October 2020 Blogs

October is National Pet Wellness Month

National Pet Wellness Month

Though it may seem like only yesterday that your pet was a playful puppy or curious kitten, pets age more rapidly than humans. At age 2, most pets are considered adults, and by the age 7, pets have entered their senior years. As pets grow older, it becomes increasingly important to spot health problems before they become serious. In order to raise awareness of the pet aging process and promote twice-a-year wellness exams, the American Veterinary Medical Association and Fort Dodge Animal Health has named October "National Pet Wellness Month."

Regular wellness exams are a key part of keeping pets healthy and happy. While annual exams are a good start to keeping your pet healthy, more frequent exams are better. Twice-a-year wellness exams are a way for your veterinarian to detect, treat and, most importantly, prevent problems before they become life-threatening. These exams are also an excellent time for you to ask your vet questions about nutrition, behavior, dental health and other issues.

children with dog

Much like humans, as pets age, the risks of cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, heart disease and other conditions increase. Many of these conditions are treatable if diagnosed in time, making twice-yearly wellness exams extremely important. For adult cats and dogs (ages 1-6 years), wellness exams include immunizations, parasite and heartworm checks, dental exams, urinalysis and blood and chemistry profiles. For senior pets, these exams also include osteoarthritis exams, thyroid checks and other tests. Your veterinarian may recommend additional tests depending on your pet's health history.

Contact your veterinarian today to schedule a wellness exam for your pet.

Pet Behavior - Aggressive Cats and Dogs

Aside from a discussion about euthanasia, aggressive behavior in animals is one of the most difficult pet topics to discuss. However, according to veterinarians and humane societies, the number one reason animals are euthanized is for behavior problems. We think of euthanasia as a merciful relief from suffering for an incurably ill or old animal. But the majority of pets are euthanized because of behavior problems.

aggressive cat

Aggressive behavior in pets must be addressed without delay. The longer it continues, the harder it is to change. Don't wait until someone is injured to seek help with this problem.

Some behavioral problems result from medical problems. A thorough physical examination by a veterinarian may reveal an underlying medical condition. A dog may be aggressive due to an injury or a congenital defect. Hip dysplasia and car accident injuries account for many episodes of canine aggressive behavior. Dental problems as well as chronic skin conditions can make a pet uncomfortable, leading to a low level of tolerance, resulting in aggression.

Pet behavior is a new and growing field. Your veterinarian may have some suggestions on curbing aggressive behavior. However, veterinarians often don't feel qualified to give such advice because their training is in medicine and surgery rather than behavior.

If the pet is healthy and initial efforts to curb the behavior don't work, then it is wise to contact a board-certified behaviorist. This is a veterinarian who specializes in animal behavior. Since mishandled aggressive behavior is potentially dangerous, most specialists will want to see the pet and the owner in person.

A pet dog or cat is a 15-year emotional, physical and monetary commitment. A little advance planning can help make it a rewarding experience. Prospective owners can reduce the chance that they will end up with an aggressive pet by educating themselves. There are many good books and pamphlets on pet behavior and there is much information regarding each individual breed. It is strongly recommended to read several books about general pet care and about handling and raising a puppy or kitten.

When picking out a puppy or kitten, don't choose the most aggressive or the shiest one in the litter. Pick out a friendly, happy animal that comes to you. Then, while the kitten or puppy is young, allow him or her to experience a variety of different situations, people and other animals. Early socialization is very important for the development of the pet, particularly how he or she deals with the surrounding world.

If you are considering adopting an adult animal that is known to be aggressive, be realistic about your expectations. Even if the problem was the result of the previous environment, rehabilitating an aggressive animal is a big project. To believe the animal needs only tender loving care is a mistake. Animals can change, but it takes love, persistence and lots of time. An aggressive pet is a tremendous liability, especially if there are young children around. If a pet shows signs of aggression, the most important thing is to get help right away. Whatever you do, don't delay.

Senior Pets - Maintaining Good Health

In general, pets over the age of 7 are considered senior pets. The following are a few suggestions to help ensure good health to your faithful companion.

senior dog

1. As your pet approaches senior status, your veterinarian may recommend basic blood and urine tests as a baseline for measuring future changes. Regular blood testing can help identify diseases in their earliest and most treatable stages.

2. Note changes in your pet’s behavior or appearance. Treat simple medical problems, such as incessant ear scratching, immediately. A trip to the veterinarian can get problems under control early, before they become major problems requiring more extensive treatment.

3. Switch to a quality senior food that provides enhanced levels of key nutrients

4. Ask your veterinarian about a dental checkup and teeth cleaning. Follow the cleaning with recommended dental care at home.

5. Provide moderate exercise. This will deter anxiety-related behavior problems, help with weight control and keep muscles toned.

6. Talk with your veterinarian if your dog or cat tires easily or has trouble breathing.

7. Groom your senior pet at least once a week. Check for lumps, sores, parasites and foul-smelling ears or discharge. Older pets may need to he bathed with medicated or moisturizing shampoo.

8. Maintain a familiar routine and environment to minimize stress.

9. If your pet has not been spayed or neutered, ask your veterinarian about having this done. These procedures reduce the likelihood of mammary or prostate gland tumors.

10. As your veterinarian about a Senior Pet Health Examination. He or she will examine your pet and offer suggestions for maintaining an excellent quality of life.