A healthy pet starts with excellent preventive care, and what better time to refocus on a healthy lifestyle than at the start of a new year? By focusing on preventing disease rather than treating it, you and your Stone Ridge veterinarian can set your pet up for a lifetime of good habits and healthy choices. Continue reading for answers to some commonly asked questions regarding preventive care.
What is preventive care?
Veterinary services and medications that prevent or screen for illnesses fall under the preventive-care umbrella, which can include anything from annual wellness examinations, to immunizations, to infectious-disease testing, to diet and exercise advice. Preventive care is an important component in your pet’s overall health, because it not only helps prevent disease, but also often alerts your veterinarian of abnormalities before they become too serious.
What kind of preventive care does my pet need?
The type of preventive care your individual pet needs will vary based on lifestyle, age, and other factors. The majority of pets will benefit from the following preventive services:
- Annual or semi-annual physical examinations
- Oral examinations and dental prophylaxes
- Immunizations for diseases such as rabies, distemper, and bordetella
- Heartworm testing
- Heartworm-prevention medication
- Tickborne-disease testing
- Flea, tick, and other ectoparasite prevention medication
- Fecal testing
As pets age, additional screenings, such as X-rays or routine blood, urine, and thyroid testing, are often recommended to evaluate for common age-related conditions. Your Stone Ridge veterinarian will help you decide the best services for your pet.
Do I need to brush my pet’s teeth?
Brushing your pet’s teeth is the ideal method for preventing plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth, but we understand that toothbrushing can prove difficult in some pets. Starting the process slowly and early on will help your pet become accustomed to, and more likely to accept, the practice. Therefore, we recommend beginning an at-home, oral-care regimen as early as possible. Begin by getting your pet acclimated to the flavor and texture of a VOHC-approved toothpaste, and slowly work up to brushing the teeth with a toothbrush or finger brush. If your pet has limited patience, focus on the areas that typically acquire the most tartar, such as the canines and large molars. Other products, such as oral rinses, wipes, and water additives, help keep your pet’s teeth clean, but these generally are not as effective as brushing.
Why does my pet need an anesthetic dental cleaning?
While at-home oral care is excellent for preventing plaque buildup, it cannot eliminate calcified tartar that has already accumulated on the tooth surface and under the gumline. For the safety of your pet and our veterinary team, all pets must undergo general anesthesia to receive a thorough dental cleaning. We will take all the necessary precautions to ensure your pet is healthy enough for this procedure.
How do I know if my pet is on the right diet?
With the wide variety of pet diets on the market, making the right choice for your pet can feel overwhelming. While your Stone Ridge veterinarian should be your first step in choosing a new pet food, these general guidelines can help:
- Pets under the age of 1 should be fed a puppy or kitten food
- Pets over the age of 7 can be fed a senior diet
- Pets with skin disease may benefit from a limited ingredient diet
- Overweight pets may need a low calorie, high fiber diet
Should I give my pet any supplements?
Walking the pet-store aisles and picking up a product that promises to relieve your pet’s itching or joint pain may be tempting, but talk to your Stone Ridge veterinarian before giving your pet any over-the-counter medications or supplements, as efficacy can be questionable and adverse effects are possible. If your pet suffers from an orthopedic injury or pain, our veterinary team may recommend Movoflex, a palatable supplement that supports your pet’s joints with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and collagen.
How do I know if my pet is overweight?
Your Stone Ridge veterinarian is your best resource for evaluating your pet’s weight, but the following general rules can help you monitor your pet’s body condition at home:
- She should have a slight fat pad over her thorax, but you should be able to easily palpate the ribs
- Her waist should be well-defined, and tucked-up behind the rib cage
- She should not have any obvious fat deposits over the shoulders, hips, or rump area
We care about your pet’s well-being, and we are here for her preventive-care needs. Contact us if you have questions, or to set up a wellness exam today.