Pet Health

Cat Health Problems: Hairballs
Is Your Pet at a Healthy Weight?
Pet Dental Health
Routine Cat Healthcare
Small Dog Health Problems
The Best Pet Health Information
The Six Signs of Dog Health
What is Atopy?

Tip #53: Cat Health Problems: Hairballs

Domestic shorthair cat

Cats get hairballs by grooming themselves. While grooming keeps them healthy, their coats gleaming, and is an important part of cat health, hairballs aren't very fun for you or the cat. Luckily there are ways to prevent or minimize hairballs.

Whether your cat is long-haired or short-haired, make sure to brush him every day. This helps remove the loose fur that can turn into hairballs when your cat grooms. If this isn't enough to reduce the hairball problem, check with your veterinarian for hairball medication or the best hairball formula food for your cat. These specially formulated foods have ingredients that help the hair break up and pass through the cat more efficiently, ensuring good health, happy cats, and even happier cat owners.

Tip #54: Is Your Pet at a Healthy Weight?

Dog stands on scale

Pet health is a lot like human health when it comes to weight gain. Our pets can suffer the same health problems that humans face when they are overweight or obese, such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease.

Check to see if your dog or cat needs to go on a diet by rubbing your pet gently along the side from his chest back to his rear legs. Can you feel the ribs without trouble? If you can, then your pet's weight is probably fine. If you can't, he probably needs to go on a diet and get more exercise

If you're the least bit concerned, check with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help you put your pet on a diet and recommend the right foods to help your animal slim down.

Your pet's health depends on a balanced diet, lots of exercise and regular checks-ups.

Tip #55: Pet Dental Health

Dog sits next to toothbrush

Good pet dental health is necessary for good breath, eating habits and overall health. Pet dental problems can lead to heart disease, weakening of the immune system and other health problems. During your pet's annual check-up, your veterinarian will evaluate your pet's dental health. But don't just wait for a checkup -- you can take steps right now to help prevent dental disease.

Brush your pet's teeth on a weekly or monthly basis. Mark a pet teeth cleaning day on your calendar and make it a priority. If you start cleaning your pet's teeth when he's young, he will get accustomed to it much easier. Complement your home teeth-cleaning sessions with a professional teeth cleaning by your veterinarian or an animal professional once a year.

If you simply can't get your pet to give in to brushing, use a dental formula food that promotes dental health. Be sure to feed him tartar control treats as well. Tartar and plaque can lead to tooth loss, gum disease, tooth loss and a host of other pet health problems.

Take your pet's dental health care as seriously as you take your own!

Tip #56: Routine Cat Healthcare

Cat is held by veterinarian

Because your pet ages rapidly, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends your pet have an examination twice a year. You should make sure these examinations include everything your cat needs: vaccinations, a fecal exam to check for worms and parasites, a physical examination, dental exam and ear exam. These routine checkups should help keep your cat healthy throughout the year. More frequent examinations may be recommended for older cats or cats with chronic illness.

If you have an outdoor cat, fleas are his constant nemesis. A trip to you veterinarian's office every three months may be necessary for anti-flea medications. Outdoor cats are more prone to problems, so the likelihood is that they will need more check-ups than indoor cats.

Cats older than 10 years old will experience a number of changing health needs. An older cat's kidneys may be the first organ to suffer from age. His fur may gradually become less shiny and his skin thinner and less elastic. He may need to have his nails trimmed more often because it's not as easy for him to use the scratching post. As he ages your cat will need special attention to his changing grooming habits and diet. Your older cat will need to see the veterinarian more often than he did in his younger years.

Ask your vet if you have any questions about your cat's health.

Tip #57: Small Dog Health Problems

Small dog runs in the ocean

Small dogs face several specific health problems that larger breeds may not. Some very small dogs are at risk for recurring teeth and gum diseases. Feeding special diets designed to promote good dental health, crunchy treats and brushing your small dog's teeth regularly will help control dental problems.

It's also easier for small dogs to be injured if they are in an accident or get in a fight with a larger dog. Their small bones break more easily, and they are generally more fragile than larger breeds.

Small dog health problems can intensify if they get an illness or disease because their small systems can be overcome more quickly. Regular veterinary check-ups can help identify and prevent health problems in your pet.

Tip #58: The Best Pet Health Information

Dog licks veterinarian

The best thing you can do to keep your pet healthy for years to come is to schedule bi-annual health exams with your veterinarian. Regular veterinary check-ups reduce the chance that your pet will suffer from untreatable illnesses or conditions. The earlier you and your veterinarian can catch problems, the earlier he or she can prescribe treatment and get your pet healthy again.

Keeping your pet up to date with vaccinations, heart worm pills, flea treatments, and other regular medications prevent and postpone many health conditions, prolonging your pet's life and the time you spend enjoying together.

Tip #59: The Six Signs of Dog Health

Following are the six signs of a healthy dog:

Dog is examined
  1. Body Condition: Your dog should appear healthy and not show signs of obesity or muscle loss.
  2. Skin, Coat, Eyes: The skin should be smooth and clean, the coat should be shiny and soft, and your dog's eyes should be clear and bright without any discharge or cloudiness.
  3. Mouth: The teeth and gums should be free of tartar and plaque; healthy gums should not be too pink or puffy.
  4. Immune System: The immune system works on the inside but shows on the outside in a healthy, vibrant dog that has a shiny coat, good muscles and endurance, and is alert and lively.
  5. Bones and Joints: Your dog should be able to move easily without pain or stiffness; he should be interested in play and have good posture and attitude.
  6. Digestion: Check your dog's digestion by inspecting the size and quality of the stool. Firm, compact stools indicate your dog is getting the most nutrition from his food, while runny or soft stools could indicate a digestive problem.

You should never skip your dog’s annual veterinary check-ups. If you find any problems when you give your dog the six-sign exam you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian right away.

Tip #60: What is Atopy?

Cat scratches

Allergy problems are one way pet health and human health are similar. In pets these allergies are called atopy and pet health care experts say the symptoms can begin early in your cat or dog's life. Those symptoms include seasonal itching, irritation, and hair loss in the affected areas. You may notice irritation around your dog's eyes and mouth, on the abdomen or legs. In cats, hair loss or scabbing may be found above the eyes or along the sides of the nose. You may also notice hair loss along either side of the cat's backbone. Cat health and dog health professionals recommend oral anti-hisamines, essential fatty acids and cortisone-based topical medications to relieve the itching, but persistent itching may require steroid injections or oral prednisone for treatment. Treatments such as desensitization to offending allergens may also be necessary in severe cases of atopy.

Less expensive treatments for atopy such as anti-histamines and essential fatty acids may help control minor symptoms of atopy but do not always help. Some clinics report as many as 30 percent of their attempts to treat atopy symptoms with antihistamines are successful. You may wish to try an antihistamine treatment course before resorting to steroids, but always follow the recommendation of your veterinarain -- never administer over-the-counter medications to your cat or dog without consulting with your veterinarian. Some OTC drugs are toxic or poisonous for animals but safe for humans.

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