From birthday parties to car seats, people treat their pets like they are children. Maybe you take your pet shopping or are subscribed to a monthly toy box. Or, maybe you take your furry friend on dinner dates to your favorite patio. No matter what, you find a way to prioritize them and show your love.
Odds are, if you are invested in your pet’s happiness, you are probably equally invested in their health. However, there’s a lot of misinformation about what is healthy for your four-legged friend, and it can be hard to know what’s best. Here are five things you can do to really improve your pet’s well-being.
1. Provide Nutritious Food
Feeding your dog nutritious food is vitally important to their overall well-being. Similar to humans, what pets consume can impact their physical and mental health. Unfortunately, many popular brands use fillers in their recipes. Some of these ingredients — like meat by-products, and plastics like melamine — should be avoided. While other additives, like soy, wheat, and fruit pulps, should only be consumed in moderation.
To avoid risky ingredients, you could try fresh dog food. Your pet should be consuming whole foods and vegetables, just like you. These fresh brands are typically jammed-packed with quality ingredients like sweet potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, and peas. They will also include quality proteins like beef, chicken, or lamb. Typically, they will have important minerals and vitamins included in their ingredients list.
2. Consider Pet Insurance
While it may not seem like pet insurance directly impacts your animal’s health, it can indirectly. Pet insurance is available for all kinds of pets including dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, reptiles, and rodents. Without the barrier of fear associated with treatment costs, you will likely have your pet treated more frequently. Insurance can offset the costs of vet visits and associated treatments. Pet parents pay between $800 and $1,500 on average for an emergency vet visit. However, you can find pet insurance policies starting at $15/month.
When pet insurance is on your side, it helps offset high bills. Pet insurance functions a little bit differently from human medical insurance. With your furry friends, there are no networks or copays to worry about. Instead, their coverage will simply allow you to be reimbursed for specific costs when using a licensed vet. This will help cover costs associated with routine and emergency care. Some policies may even reimburse up to 90% of the entire bill.
3. Maintain Routine Preventative Care
Just like humans, pets need routine wellness exams. At these annual exams, your pets should be receiving preventative medications. Puppies should be receiving shots every few weeks to protect them from diseases while kittens need less frequent vaccinations in early life. Core vaccines include canine parvovirus, distemper, and canine hepatitis and rabies. Non-core vaccines are less frequent but are often required for boarding your pet or taking them to membership-based dog parks.
Non-core shots include Bordetella bronchiseptica. This shot, commonly known as Bordetella, treats kennel cough. This is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is easily prevented through a simple vaccination process. When left untreated or unvaccinated, dogs with underlying health issues may experience severe illness. In severe cases, there is risk of death. Keeping your pet’s vaccinations up to date is vitally important for your animal’s long term health.
4. Encourage Mental Stimulation
Pets need hobbies, too. Give them opportunities to discover the world through sounds and smells. Stimulating their brains can increase happiness. When dogs are engaging in behaviors that enrich them, they are more likely to be happier. Whether it is obedience training, puzzle games, or a chew stick, your pet will benefit from this stimulation.
Engaging your pet in activities can eliminate boredom and anxiety. Try taking a new route on your daily walk. Or, visit a dog friendly store and let them sniff around. Rotate their favorite toys in and out to provide variety and excitement. You can even purchase a puzzle toy to keep them busy and enriched.
5. Focus on their Skin
While it sounds simple, routinely bathing your pet can vastly improve their health. Baths can reduce inflammation of their skin. It can remove damaged fur and work to heal infection. Conditioning your animal’s coat during the winter months can also combat dry skin and help them feel more comfortable. During the spring, frequent baths can remove any allergens from their fur.
If your animal’s skin is itchy, they are likely going to scratch itself for relief. Doing so can create small tears in their skin. This can create opportunity for bacteria to enter through open wounds, which can lead to illness. An additional benefit of bath time is that during your pet’s bath, you can check their body for any abnormalities. Keeping an eye on any changes, like bumps or wounds, can prevent a serious problem before it progresses.
Maintaining your pet’s health doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it can be as simple as bathing them once a month, switching to healthier food, and providing mental stimulation. To keep your pet’s well-being top of mind, schedule annual vet visits ahead of time. If your pet is experiencing a health issue, consult your veterinarian.