The month of October may conjure up images of ghouls, goblins, and jack-o’-lanterns, but pet parents have another reason to celebrate: It’s National Pet Wellness Month!
Sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), National Pet Wellness Month takes place every October as an initiative to educate pet owners about the pet aging process and the importance of preventive care, and to promote positive lifestyle choices for dogs and cats to help them lead long, happy, and healthy lives.
There’s no better time to evaluate your furry friend’s overall wellness and to make healthy changes to their routine. Here are six tips on how to keep your pet healthy this month, and year-round.
6 Ways to Provide the Best Care for Your Pet
1. Schedule a wellness exam
Annual veterinary checkups are essential in order to assess your pet’s overall health and to check their weight and vaccination status. Regular exams can also help your vet catch signs of illness or health complications early, which is important because dogs and cats age faster than humans, so health issues can arise and escalate quickly. In fact, many vets recommend seeing senior pets twice a year.
2. Stay on top of parasite prevention
Parasites, like fleas and ticks, can spell trouble for your pet, not only by causing irritation and discomfort, but also by transmitting harmful diseases. Talk to your veterinarian about medications to prevent these parasites, as well as heartworm disease, which is transmitted by mosquitos and can be fatal if left untreated. Because heartworm disease is so serious and is prevalent in all 50 states, the American Heartworm Society recommends that all dogs and cats take year-round heartworm prevention medicine.
3. Evaluate your pet’s diet
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 59% of dogs and 61% of cats in the United States are overweight or obese. Just like with humans, obesity in animals can cause health problems such as heart disease and diabetes, and diet plays a major role in weight management. Avoid giving your pet table scraps or too many treats, and make sure you’re feeding proper serving sizes of high-quality food. Check your pet food labels to ensure you’re giving your four-legged friend wholesome food with plenty of the protein, vitamins, and minerals they need to stay healthy.
4. Add in regular exercise
In addition to a healthy diet, getting enough exercise can help your pet maintain a healthy weight. Look for fun and enjoyable ways for your dog or cat to stay active—this can be a great bonding experience for you both! Take your canine companion on regular walks around the neighborhood, set out on a hike together, or play a game of fetch or tug-of-war. Encourage your cat to run and pounce with a favorite toy or laser pointer, or set up an obstacle course for your cat at home.
5. Promote dental health
Dental care is the most overlooked aspect of pets’ healthcare, with periodontal disease affecting 90% dogs by the age of 3 and 90% of cats over the age of 4, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. And while periodontal disease can lead to pain, tooth loss, and even damage to internal organs, it is fortunately preventable. Protect your pet's teeth and gums by scheduling an annual professional dental cleaning, starting a brushing routine at home, and serving Tartar Shield products to keep plaque and tartar at bay.
6. Don’t forget about social and emotional health
Your pet's wellness is about more than just their physical health. Just like humans, dogs and cats can experience depression and anxiety, especially after major life changes. Give your furry family member plenty of love and attention, help them socialize with other humans and animals, and spend time together. Interacting with your pet is good for their mental well-being, and yours too! Plus, it can help you become more in tune with their behavior and emotions so you can recognize when they aren’t acting normal or feeling well.