Pet Health Tips

Pet health is an important topic for any pet owner. Pets occasionally get sick and need medical care, but taking good care of your pet throughout his life can help prevent many illnesses, and help him live longer with fewer vet bills. Follow these pet health tips for a happy, healthy pet.

Get Your Pet Vaccinated

Vaccinations are one of the best things you can do to safeguard your pet's health and your own. Some animal diseases, like rabies, can be transmitted to humans and cause severe, even deadly, illness. Others, like parvo and distemper, aren't contagious to humans, but they can nevertheless cause serious, life-threatening illness in your pet.

Vets recommend that puppies and kittens receive four core vaccinations. Puppies and dogs should be vaccinated against rabies, distemper, canine hepatitis and parvovirus. Cats and kittens should be vaccinated against rabies, feline panleukopenia, feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus. Vaccinations against other diseases are available; discuss your pet's risks of infection with your vet first.

Initial vaccinations should be administered at six to eight weeks of age. Boosters should be administered at 12 to 16 weeks, and again at one year. Your pet should receive boosters every year at his annual check-up.

Take Your Pet to the Vet for Check-Ups

Veterinary physical exams are crucial to pet health. Your pet can't tell you when something's wrong, so if he gets sick, chances are good the disease will have already advanced to a more serious stage by the time symptoms appear. Yearly veterinary check-ups can help your vet spot problems in their early stages. They also give your vet more information with which to make a diagnosis when your pet does inevitably fall ill.

Look after Your Pet's Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene is more important to pet health than you might think. The bacteria in your pet's mouth can spread to other parts of his body, causing major organ damage and even death in severe cases. Brush your pet's teeth daily, or use oral hygiene rinses or dental treats designed specifically for pets, to help keep his teeth clean.

Your pet should receive a yearly veterinary dental exam when he gets his physical. Your vet will examine your pet's teeth for signs of decay. He should also clean your pet's teeth. Dental decay can lead to serious infection, and may eventually necessitate the extraction of teeth.

Feed Your Pet Well and Give Him Plenty of Exercise

It should go without saying that your pet needs a healthy, nutritious diet. Feed your pet a quality commercial pet food suited to his needs. Make your own pet food only if you've discussed your pet's nutritional needs with your vet, and fully understand them. Don't feed your pet table scraps; don't let him eat garbage, rotting animals or toxic household chemicals. Make sure he has access to plenty of clean, fresh water at all times.

Your pet also needs exercise for good health. Walk your dog and teach him tricks to sharpen his mind. Play with your cat or dog daily, even if only inside the house.