The ball has dropped and you likely have toasted the New Year and made some self improvement resolutions. Such pledges can also benefit your pet—and you still have time. Our Scripps Ranch Veterinary Hospital team wants your pet’s 2023 to be happy and healthy, so we suggest New Year’s resolutions that will help improve your four-legged friend’s life. 

Focus on your pet’s wellness care

Does your pet seem healthy? You may expect your pet to let you know they are sick, but pets frequently hide illness until their condition is advanced. This can negatively impact their prognosis, since treating most conditions is easier with early detection. At your pet’s wellness visit, our veterinary team will assess their health and establish a baseline so we can easily detect slight abnormalities that may indicate a health problem. Here’s what you should expect at your pet’s wellness exam:

  • A chat — You know your pet better than anyone and are in the best position to notice behavioral changes that may indicate a health issue. We discuss your pet’s actions and behaviors, and your concerns about their health.
  • Treats and belly rubs — We perform a thorough physical examination looking for indications of any health problem, and we provide treats and belly rubs along the way to keep your pet happy and content.
  • A small poke — Not every disease can be detected by a history and physical examination. We pull blood to run a complete blood count and biochemistry profile to check your pet’s organ function and assess their overall health status. 
  • Pee in a cup — We perform a urinalysis to look for issues such as urinary stones, diabetes, and kidney malfunction.

Ensure your pet receives appropriate parasite prevention

Parasites can significantly affect your pet’s health, and year-round parasite prevention medication is necessary for their protection. Several products are available, so our veterinary team will help you determine the best options to protect your pet against:

  • Fleas — Flea bite dermatitis is the most common skin disease diagnosed in pets, and causes severe itching, skin excoriations, and secondary infections. In addition, these parasites can cause anemia and transmit diseases such as the plague and cat scratch fever.
  • Ticks — Several tick species transmit diseases, such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In addition, some female ticks excrete a neurotoxin that can paralyze pets.
  • Heartworms — Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and can cause severe lung disease and infection that can potentially lead to heart failure. Most pets don’t exhibit signs in the early stages, making detection difficult.
  • Intestinal parasites — Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms, can leach nutrients from your pet and cause gastrointestinal upset. Some intestinal parasites can also be transmitted to humans. 

Watch your pet’s figure

Many people include losing weight on their New Year’s resolution list, and your pet should also maintain an ideal weight to remain healthy. Obesity is a common problem in pets, yet owners often don’t realize their pet is overweight. Obesity is not a cosmetic issue for pets—added pounds predispose pets to many serious health complications, such as cancer, metabolic dysfunction, kidney disease, and arthritis. Tips to help your pet keep their svelte figure include:

  • Do the math — Use an online calorie calculator to determine how many calories your pet needs per day. You will be asked to provide your pet’s weight, age, activity level, and spay or neuter status.
  • Read the details — Once you calculate your pet’s daily caloric needs, read their food label to determine the daily amount of food they need. Most pets do better if they eat at least twice a day, so feed half the amount each morning and evening. 
  • Be accurate — Estimating your pet’s food portion can easily lead to overfeeding, so use a measuring cup and measure their meal amount accurately.
  • Limit temptation — Treats should account for no more than 10% of your pet’s daily calories, and should include healthy options such as snap peas and baby carrots.
  • Monitor the situation — Periodically, weigh your pet and assess their body condition score (BCS) to ensure they stay at a healthy weight. 

Don’t neglect your pet’s dental health

Bad breath is a faux pas for anyone, but if your pet’s breath smells bad, they may have dental disease, which affects most pets by the time they are 3 years of age, and can lead to issues more concerning than halitosis. Bacteria that cause dental disease can invade under your pet’s gum line, damaging the supporting structures of their teeth. Issues include bleeding gums, loose, painful teeth, missing teeth, tooth root infections and, in severe cases, a broken jaw. In addition, the bacteria can enter your pet’s bloodstream and damage organs such as their heart, kidneys, and liver. Tips to help keep your pet’s breath minty fresh include:

  • Call the dentist — Your pet needs regular cleanings, like you. Our veterinary team performs professional veterinary dental cleanings to effectively remove damaging bacteria from your pet’s teeth and from under their gum line.
  • Say “Ahhh” — Between professional dental cleanings, you should brush your pet’s teeth daily to remove plaque that accumulates after meals. Use pet-friendly products, because human dental products can be toxic to pets.

These resolutions should start your pet’s new year off on the right paw. If you would like to schedule a wellness exam or a professional dental cleaning, contact our Scripps Ranch Veterinary Hospital team, so we can ensure 2023 is an excellent year for your four-legged friend.