There’s no better time to evaluate your pet’s overall health and wellness than the start of a new year. Keep your pet healthy and happy in 2023 by taking a proactive approach to their care. Afterall, your pet relies on you to ensure all their needs are met, including their health. Our Haskell Valley Veterinary Clinic team offers tips to help you jump-start your pet’s health, so you can make 2023 your furry pal’s best year yet! 

#1: Prioritize your pet’s preventive care

Some pet owners think they need to bring their pet to the veterinarian only when their four-legged friend appears sick or injured, but routine wellness exams are essential to maintain their overall health and wellbeing. Postponing or failing to ensure your pet has their annual wellness examination can leave them vulnerable to numerous health issues. To ensure your pet stays healthy throughout their life, prioritize their wellness exams in 2023. Wellness visits provide pets with lifelong health advantages, including:

  • Early disease detection — Annual exams and blood work help your pet’s veterinarian identify unsuspected health problems long before visible signs manifest, improving your pet’s outcome and minimizing treatment time and cost.
  • Parasite detection and prevention — Parasites are a constant threat to pets, and  year-round parasite prevention can protect your pet from fleas, ticks, heartworms, and the deadly diseases they can carry. 
  • Disease prevention — Vaccinations help your pet build and maintain a strong defense against infectious diseases.

#2:  Prioritize your pet’s oral health

More than 70% of pets experience early periodontal (i.e., dental) disease by the time they are 3 years of age. Many pet owners do not understand the importance of oral health, which can affect their pet’s overall wellbeing. Periodontal disease encompasses the gum inflammation and tooth damage that plaque and tartar buildup cause. If you do not brush your pet’s teeth regularly, sticky plaque hardens into tartar, and can erode a tooth’s roots and surrounding structures, causing severe pain. In addition, dental disease can result in chronic inflammation and organ damage. Preventive oral health care includes:

  • Biannual professional oral exams 
  • Annual—or more frequent—professional dental cleanings
  • Daily toothbrushing
  • Appropriate chews and toys
  • Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)-approved dental products

#3: Maintain your pet’s healthy weight

Veterinary professionals’ concerns are escalating regarding the increasing number of overweight U.S. pets, because excess weight can lead to several serious health problems, including:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Liver disease
  • Cranial cruciate ligament tears
  • Diabetes
  • Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
  • Lipomas
  • Kidney disease
  • Skin infections
  • Heart disease

Many owners do not realize that their pet is overweight—especially if their four-legged friend has a big, fluffy, fur coat. Your pet is considered overweight if they are at least 10% to 20% heavier than their ideal healthy weight, which is determined by more than a number on the scale, and depends on your pet’s size and breed. While a scale provides you with your pet’s weight, that number is not as telling as their body condition score (BCS), which you can check at home. Can you feel your pet’s ribs without pressing hard and squeezing their chest? Can you see a visible waistline from above and from the side when your pet is standing? If your pet’s body is shaped more like an ottoman than an hourglass, they should likely lose a few pounds in 2023. Keep your pet at an ideal weight by doing the following:

  • Scheduling regular wellness exams 
  • Monitoring their weight
  • Measuring food portions 
  • Reducing treats 
  • Exercising daily 

#4: Provide your pet with enrichment activities

Enrichment activities relieve your pet’s boredom, reduce anxiety, foster critical thinking, decrease inappropriate behavior, and benefit your four-legged friend’s mental and physical health. Keep enrichment activities simple. Consider the following:

  • Foraging games — Foraging encourages your pet to use their nose—rather than their eyes—to seek food or treats. 
  • TrainingTraining is a great way to stimulate your pet’s thinking. Teaching your pet new commands and tricks can improve their manners, strengthen your human-animal bond, and build their confidence. 
  • Interactive toys — Interactive toys enable your pet to follow their natural instincts while honing their problem-solving skills. 

We hope 2023 is the best year yet for you and your pet, and our team is here to provide them with the high-quality veterinary care they deserve. Schedule your pet’s wellness exam with our Haskell Valley Veterinary Clinic team, and jump-start your furry pal’s health in 2023.