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10 Essential Pet Health Tips for the New Year

Reviewed by Peter Kintzer DVM, DACVIM on Monday, November 10, 2014
Posted January 13, 2014 in Dog Checkups & Preventive Care

As a veterinarian, pet owners often ask me what they should be doing in order to help keep their pets healthy. To help others with similar concerns what follows are my top ten pet health tasks to promote the well being of your pet. 

1. Yearly veterinary examinations
Annual examinations are as essential as food and love. Don’t wait for your pet to be sick before taking him to the veterinarian. Bring your pet in for a wellness exam at least once a year. Older pets and pets with medical issues may need to be seen more frequently. 

Your veterinarian will examine your pet from head to tail to insure he is healthy and up to date on immunizations and other preventatives. In the long run these annual checkups will save you money and heartache by protecting your pet from preventable diseases and by detecting illness early when it is more treatable. Taking your pet to the veterinarian for an annual wellness exam is the best way to ensure your pet lives a long, healthy life. Learn more about the importance of yearly exams.

2. Vaccinations 
Most people wouldn’t skip vaccinating their kids and shouldn’t overlook vaccinating their pets. Immunizations protect our pets from devastating diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. As a shelter vet, I see too many animals suffering needlessly from preventable diseases like distemper and parvovirus. Ask your veterinarian to find out which vaccines would benefit your pet based on his lifestyle and risk factors, and how often your pet should receive booster vaccines.  

3. Screening tests 
Since animals can’t talk and tell us what is wrong with them, screening tests are important because they can detect disease before signs and symptoms develop. Depending on your pet’s age, your veterinarian will recommend screening tests to look for problems like diabetes, kidney disease or thyroid disease. Make sure you get the screening tests recommended by your veterinarian even if your pet looks healthy. Your veterinarian may also recommend screening tests before your pet undergoes general anesthesia to ensure they are healthy enough for the procedure.

4. Dental care
Commit to keeping your pet’s teeth clean and healthy. What does this entail? First, take your pet to the veterinarian for a checkup and cleaning if necessary at least once a year. Second, brush his teeth regularly with pet toothpaste and give him dental chews

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Ruth has more than 15 years of experience in the veterinary industry as a companion animal veterinarian in private practice. Along with being a writer and media personality, she is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.