Our pets love us unconditionally so keeping their heartbeat strong and healthy should be our gift to them. With love the focus during February, it’s a good time to look at tips for maintaining your pet’s heart health.
Dental care can have an impact on heart health, so as we also recognize February as National Pet Dental Health Month, now is the perfect time to encourage you to start a regular dental care routine with your dog or cat.
A study (DeBowes LJ. The effects of dental disease on systemic disease. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 1998;28:1057-1062) found there is a correlation between periodontal disease in dogs and disease affecting other internal organs, such as the heart, kidneys and liver. Bacteria found in the mouth can travel through the bloodstream causing inflammation and illness in other areas of the body.
Daily brushing is recommended, but even a few times a week is better than not at all. Brushing your pet’s teeth can be a positive experience for you and your pet when you learn the basic technique and reward your pet for good behavior. Ask your veterinarian about the right toothbrush and toothpaste for your pet. (Never use human toothpaste on your pet!)
Annual dental exams and cleanings are also important. As with our own experiences, brushing focuses on what we can see. Professional cleanings safely reach under the gum line and dental x-rays can identify potential problems we can’t see by simply looking in our pet’s mouth. Left untreated, the cost to your pet’s health and your wallet could be damaging.
Annual wellness exam
An annual wellness exam allows you and your veterinarian to establish a baseline for your pet’s health and identify any potential problems before they become serious (and costly) illnesses. It’s a great opportunity to discuss any changes you notice and address questions or concerns. Wellness exams are comprehensive, including abdominal to neurological evaluations, diagnostic testing, nutritional counseling, and vaccinations.
Preventing heartworm disease and other intestinal parasites
Fleas and ticks are blood-sucking thieves of health that carry illnesses like Lyme disease, heartworm and other intestinal parasites. Left unprotected, dogs and cats can become infected, with treatment being costly. Prevention is best way to protect your pet’s heart and overall heath. Annual testing for the presence of parasites is part of the annual comprehensive wellness exam. Talk to your veterinarian about the right preventive treatment for your dog or cat to ensure year-round protection.
It’s no secret that obesity can lead to many health issues, including heart disease. We think our pudgy little pup or kitty is cute and healthy, but adding those extra pounds over time can lead to diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. A poll revealed that over 40% of pet owners are not sure what a healthy weight looks like for their pet. Your pet’s annual comprehensive exam should include weight measurement and a discussion of body condition score, proper nutrition and healthy portions, and the possibility of a special diet or medications to treat any underlying causes of weight gain or loss.
Along with weight management, keeping your pet active can positively affect overall health. Activities that increase heart rate and lung function are perfect—and what dog doesn’t enjoy chasing after a ball or stick, swimming in the pool, or at the very least, a going for a walk? Cat toys or a multi-level perch for an indoor cat provide exercise and environmental enrichment. There are plenty of options for exercise and play to fit your schedule and lifestyle.
Making your pet’s heart health a priority will provide years of happiness and love for you both. Partnering with your veterinarian to maintain optimal wellness for your pet is important. A healthy heart requires love and commitment to a lifetime of wellness. Doylestown Veterinary Hospital offers Wellness Plans designed to provide comprehensive healthcare for each life stage of your dog or cat, making optimal pet healthcare convenient and affordable.