Early Intervention Makes a Lot of Sense PDF Print E-mail

Eliot Kaplan, DVM

I have many clients who are highly attached to their pets, so much so in fact, that they want to have their pets living as long as possible and living as well as possible. Many clients make this known to me when their pets are first presented as puppies or kittens. This is a good time to do things which can assure that this can happen.

As I have said many times, the first thing to do is to feed good diets in limited quantities. That is to say, do not free feed your pet. Feed discrete, or measured, amounts two to three times daily to avoid too rapid growth at a young age which can lead to poor joint development. Discrete feedings will also help avoid obesity which can lead to a whole slew of problems at a later age.

Regular exercise is great for growing pets. It assures proper muscle development which aids in joint development. In older animals it slows the ageing process, as it does in people. Good oral hygiene is a must. Whether it is daily tooth brushing, or availability of chew toys, or yearly dental cleanings by a veterinarian, it has been shown that the lower the bacterial count in a dog or cat's mouth, the longer the pet will live. Make sure that your pet sees the vet for a yearly health check. The veterinarian could spot a problem and intervene early enough to make a real difference.

When a pet gets older (7-10 years old) allow the vet to do blood work and a urinalysis on a yearly basis as well as check the blood pressure. The progression of many problems, such as kidney disease can be slowed or even stopped if caught early and treated. And if your veterinarian spots an abnormality during a yearly exam, such as a heart murmur in a cat, allow further tests to be conducted. In cats especially, there are certain heart diseases which, if caught and treated before symptoms occur, may never take a day off the animal's life. Otherwise, they can be fatal. And, yes, to keep your pet living as long as possible and as well as possible there are monetary costs involved, but the emotional payback can be exponential.
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