How to make National Pet Wellness month meaningful to your pet | Alchemypet
October may be associated with the spooky fun of Halloween, but did you know that it is the month of a different sort of celebration--one that involves your pet?
October is designated as National Pet Wellness Month by the American Veterinary Medical Association. The message of this event is simple: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This age-old adage rings true for both human and animal health--but how exactly do we practice preventive health for our fur babies?
The importance of routine pet wellness exams
The resounding call-to-action for National Pet Wellness Mouth is for owners to build the habit of bringing their pet to the vet every 6 months, even if their dog or cat is in the pink of health. Twice yearly routine pet wellness exams is the single most important thing owners can do to ensure your pet lives a long and happy life. There are many insidious diseases and health conditions with symptoms that only become noticeable when it’s much too late--so your best bet at preventing that from happening is catching them early.
Routine wellness checks should be at least twice yearly, but our senior pets may need more frequent visits. Just like us, animals experience the pains of aging--creaky joints, a slowing metabolism, less efficient bodily functions, and the wear-and-tear of organs and tissues. Having a vet check on these issues every 6 months may seem like a tedious thing to do, but if you are able to anticipate the discomfort they will feel over the next few years and learn how to alleviate it from an animal health professional, it’ll be well worth the effort.
The basics of routine pet wellness exams
National Pet Wellness Month raises awareness about the importance of routine pet wellness exams. But what exactly should you expect during such a visit?
The components of cat and dog wellness plans will largely depend on your pet’s health condition and age, but the following basics will always be covered:
This is a fancy word for when your vet asks you about your pet’s habits and lifestyle. Though the questions may be simple, this part is crucial to any visit to the vet--in some cases, it can spell the difference between letting a disease slip by unchecked, or detecting it early enough to make a significant difference.
As a pet parent, you should pay close attention to the behavior of your pet. This includes everything from their food, pet vitamins and supplements to their bowel movements, from physical activities to sleeping habits, and everything in between. Subtle and gradual changes in behavior are more likely to be recognized by owners, so sharpening your skills of observation and taking notes of what you notice is one of the best ways you can help your vet help your pet.
The state of your pet’s body says a lot about what’s going on inside. This includes checking your cat or dog’s body condition relative to their breed standard, assessing hydration status by examining their gums and skin elasticity, testing the intactness of their neuromuscular function by watching them move and react to stimuli, examining the eyes, ears, mouth, fur, genitals, muscles for any abnormalities or asymmetries, palpating the lymph nodes for swellings--the list goes on.
Your vet will likely do this in tandem with the anamnesis, because one helps facilitate the other and vice versa. Prompted by an answer to a question, they may proceed to do a more thorough exam on a particular body part. Likewise, suspect findings from the physical exam may spur a more detailed line of questioning during history-taking.
The importance of cardiorespiratory function cannot be overemphasized. That’s why it’s important to take the breathing rate and heart rate of our pets. In addition to the quantity of breaths or beats, it is also important to consider their quality. Abnormal sounds, which may be caused by anything from parasites to viruses to age, may prompt further investigation.
The most commonly prescribed tests conducted during pet wellness exams include a complete blood count, blood chemistry, fecalysis and urinalysis. Why? Because vets can get a whole lot of information from these four tests that they might miss if they relied only on seeing, touching, and smelling your pet.
A complete blood count looks at the cellular components of the blood, including red and white blood cells, whereas blood chemistry focuses on the non-cellular components, including proteins, waste products, enzymes, electrolytes, and more. Fecalysis and urinalysis may sound gross, but what your pet passes out from their rear end is a treasure trove of information on their health.
At the end of the routine wellness exam, your vet will summarize the findings and discuss the implications with you. Some common preventive health measures include adding pet vitamins and supplements, making changes to your pet’s exercise routines, updating vaccinations, administering dewormers and ectoparasiticides, monitoring certain behaviors, among others.
With twice-yearly visits to the vet for your fur baby’s routine wellness exam, you can stay a step ahead of any healthy issues they may face.
Ideas to celebrate National Pet Wellness Month
National Pet Wellness Month is well underway, but there is still a lot of time to find ways to participate. Here are some activities that you can do to celebrate this worthwhile event:
Bring your pet for their twice-yearly pet wellness exam.
The best way to celebrate National Pet Wellness Month is to heed its call and start the habit of bringing your pets in every 6 months for a routine check-up. If you haven’t already, you might want to try inquiring at your local vet for their cat and dog wellness plans--clinics may even offer these programs at a discounted rate during October in observation of National Pet Wellness Month!
Help an animal shelter
Animal Welfare Week falls on October 3-9--an appropriate time considering how closely intertwined animal welfare is with the advocacy of pet wellness. Whether it’s in cash or kind, animal shelters always welcome help with open arms. It’s best to ask your local shelter what they’re in need of the most--that way, you can make the most impact. If you don’t have resources to spare, consider giving your time by playing, socializing, or walking the dogs in the shelter.
Get your pet a wellness package.
Once you get the results of your pet wellness exam, follow through by getting your four-legged bestie everything they need to stay healthy and happy. Pet vitamins and supplements, healthy pet treats, new shampoo, pet-friendly toothpaste and grooming supplies--maybe throw in a coupon for an extra visit to the dog park--the possibilities are endless!
But remember--while October is designated as National Pet Wellness Month, the business of keeping your pet healthy is a year-round affair. Being observant and consistent with pet preventive health measures can save you a lot of money, time, and stress in the long run. So with that, happy National Pet Wellness Month everyone!
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