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  • A Preventive Healthcare Guide for Dog Owners

    by Emily Bergquist

    All dog owners want their pets to live the longest, healthiest life possible. Focusing on preventive healthcare is one of the most important steps dog owners can take to preventing disease and detecting health issues early, when they may be easier and more affordable to treat.

    When it comes to keeping your pet healthy, the old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” does not apply. Waiting until your pet becomes ill to seek veterinary care is never a good idea. By the time your dog is displaying symptoms, the illness may have progressed to the point where your pet has been suffering for quite some time.

    Wondering what it’s all about? Here’s our preventive healthcare guide for dog owners.

    A brown and white corgi and a brown and grey terrier running down a dirt trail at sunset.

    Prioritize Regular Wellness Exams

    We all know our pets should have wellness exams, but life can get hectic and it’s easy to put them on the back burner, especially if your pet seems fine. But prioritizing annual wellness exams is essential for detecting the subtle signs of illness early.

    If you have a senior pet or one with a health condition, these visits should take place more often. This will allow your vet to monitor your pet’s health and keep him comfortable and happy for as long as possible.

    Annual exams also offer the perfect opportunity to discuss any concerns you might have about your dog’s health or behavior. Be sure to write down your questions so you don’t forget to ask anything.

    Take Care of Your Dog’s Teeth

    Many pet parents are surprised to find out that their dog’s breath shouldn’t be horrible. In fact, bad breath could indicate a serious problem. Many pets have dental disease by the time they’re four years old.

    If left untreated, dental disease can lead to severe bad breath, receding gums, tooth loss, and a lot of pain for your beloved fur baby. Even worse, bacteria from diseased teeth can travel through the bloodstream. When this happens, it can cause harm to your dog’s organs, including their heart, kidneys, and liver.

    At Bond Vet’s NYC veterinary dentistry, doctors recommend professional dental cleanings every 2-3 years, with a checkup each year during the wellness exam. Brushing your dog’s teeth at home regularly is also key for keeping his gums and teeth healthy and extending the time between professional cleanings.

    Get Your Dog Spayed or Neutered

    Having your dog spayed or neutered isn’t just about preventing unwanted puppies. It can also prevent many diseases that can be life-threatening to your pet.

    For example, neutering a male dog lowers his risk of developing prostate disease and eliminates the risk of testicular cancer. And, spaying your female dog lowers her risk of developing hormone-related cancers and pyometra, a life-threatening uterine infection that often requires expensive surgery to correct.

    Spaying and neutering also prevent or reduce unwanted hormone-related behaviors, such as roaming and anxiety associated with the hunt for a mate and hormone-related aggression.

    Stay on Top of Your Dog’s Vaccinations

    Rabies vaccines are required by law in some states, but other vaccines are also important for preventing several life-threatening diseases. Talk to your vet to find out which diseases are prevalent in your area and ask him to recommend an appropriate vaccination program for your dog.

    Protect Your Dog Against Parasites

    Fleas, ticks, and mosquitos can be a problem year-round in some areas. Talk to your vet about monthly, year-round broad-spectrum parasite protection to control intestinal parasites and heartworms, as well as fleas and ticks. Your pet should also have a fecal exam each year to ensure that they’re parasite free.

    You can easily manage and keep track of your pet’s flea/tick and heartworm medications by using the Pawprint app. Using this app, you can set reminders so your dog never misses a single dose. With the Pawprint app, you’ll also be notified when your pet needs a refill, and you can order more medication directly in the app.

    A screenshot image of setting reminders for heartworm and flea/tick medications in the Pawprint app

    Get Your Dog Moving

    Just like humans, exercise has numerous benefits for your dog’s mental and physical health. It’s a great way to get rid of excess energy and provide mental stimulation. Of course, it also keeps your dog’s bones, muscles, and heart strong and maintains a healthy weight, which is crucial for your pet’s longevity and quality of life.

    Feed Your Dog Right

    Obesity isn’t just a problem for people, it’s become a huge problem for our pets too. As many as 35-percent of pets are obese, and even a few extra pounds can shorten your dog’s life.

    Obesity puts extra strain on your dog’s organs, bones, and joints. It makes it harder for them to get around, especially as they get older.

    If your pooch needs to lose a few pounds, start by cutting back on the treats and getting them out for more exercise each day. Then, talk to your vet about which food they should be eating, how much you should feed them, and how often.

    And, if you’re feeding them unhealthy table scraps, stop! Those calories can add up quickly. Veggies are a better choice for healthy snacks that won’t pack on the pounds.

    Provide Regular Grooming

    Grooming isn’t just about keeping your dog looking pretty. Grooming your dog regularly will help you detect potential issues early, such as lumps, bumps, skin problems, ear infections, and parasites. And of course, your dog will feel better if they’re clean, brushed, and his nails and hair are trimmed to a comfortable length.

    A small white dog runs and leaps through a yard with a smile on their face.

    Some Final Thoughts

    You can’t prevent everything but taking the preventive healthcare steps outlined in this article can go a long way toward keeping your pet healthy and happy for as long as possible. 

    All dog owners should keep in mind that accidents can happen at any time, no matter how careful you are. Familiarizing yourself with doggie first aid and learning what to do in common emergencies like choking, poisoning, and heatstroke can also increase your chances of helping your pet if something goes wrong.

    About the Author

    Nicole is a die-hard animal lover who has worked in pet care for years. She is a former vet technician, a dog mom to her two rescue pups. She grew up living and working at her family’s pet boarding facility. Nicole loves using her writing talents to share the insight she’s learned throughout her career in the hopes that her knowledge can help other pet parents out there!

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