1. Most of the time you shouldn’t be following the serving sizes found on pet-food packages.
When it comes to pet food, less is sometimes more. The suggested amount on the back of the food bag is usually too much. Feed your pet just slightly lower than what is on the bag of food. Unless you’ve received special instructions from your pet’s vet, it’s normally fine to feed your animals slightly less than the suggested serving size, which can help stave off obesity.

2. A chubby animal may be cute, but obesity can compromise a pet’s health.
Just like with people, obesity in pets can lead to diabetes, heart problems, and arthritis. If you suspect your pet may be overweight, bring them to the vet before making any major diet or lifestyle changes for them. Along with providing an objective opinion about your pet’s weight, your veterinarian will also check if your pet’s obesity is due to excess calories or a medical condition.

3. Coughing up hairballs isn’t normal for a cat.
Vomiting hairballs is never normal and is a sign of a problem. Your cat may be consuming too much hair through over-grooming due to an allergy, or there may be a gastrointestinal problem and the movement of hair through the intestinal tract is being compromised. If you are noticing that your cat is regularly hacking up hairballs, you should have your veterinarian assess your cat’s dermatological and gastrointestinal health with a physical exam and diagnostic tests.

4. Pet vaccines can become less effective over time, so booster shots are important.
Although many realize the importance of vaccines, some pet parents have the misconception that a single shot is enough to give their puppy or kitten lifelong immunity to a disease. The truth is that most vaccines need ‘booster’ shots in order to be effective. It is important that people don’t make the mistake of assuming their new pet is protected just because they were vaccinated one time at the shelter.

5. Investing in a quality pet carrier is worth it.
The quality and design of a pet carrier can make a big difference when it comes to veterinary visits and your pet’s comfort. Opt for a carrier that is hard plastic and is large enough for your pet to turn around and lay down comfortably. It is also important to choose a carrier that opens from the side and from the top. A two-door carrier can help nervous pets feel more comfortable at the vet.

6. In the long run, it’s almost always cheaper to pay for preventative check-ups than it is to pay for major procedures.

Many pet parents try to save money by skipping annual exams or other preventive treatments. It is far more cost-effective to vaccinate your dog against a virus and give consistent heartworm preventatives than to risk having your dog become infected and spend hundreds of dollars treating the disease.

7. Exotic pets require specific environments and diets, so do your research and be realistic before adopting one.
Before getting an exotic animal, go see an exotic vet. The most common reason most reptiles get sick is that something is wrong in their habitat. Be sure to ask an exotic vet what you need to do before bringing your pet home and what signs of distress you should look out for. They’ll be able to make recommendations regarding habitat temperature, diet, exercise, and cleanliness. It is much easier to fix the problem before it starts.

8. Pets should never take human medication without a prescription.
In some cases, medicines that help humans can fatally harm pets. Never give your pet human medication without a veterinary prescription. Although some human medications are fine to give a pet, your veterinarian will need to calculate dosage for you. And most over-the-counter human medication is not good for your pet.

9. Proper dental care can benefit your pet’s overall health and even potentially prolong their life.
Dental disease in pets can lead to serious health issues like kidney, heart, and liver disease. In fact, most pets have dental disease by the time they are three to four years old. Dental procedures under anesthesia allow veterinarians to thoroughly inspect and clean below the gum line, where most dental disease is found. That said, regular brushing at home with a pet toothbrush and toothpaste can help minimize your animal’s risk of dental disease and bad breath, but it shouldn’t take the place of annual veterinary cleanings.

10. Pets show pain differently than humans, so it’s important to recognize the signs.
Unfortunately, pets are extremely good at hiding their pain. This means pet owners should always keep a close eye on their animals’ eating habits, behaviors, and patterns. When pets are vocal about pain, it is usually a sign that it is severe. Other signs of pain include behavior changes, excessive grooming, changes in eating and drinking, and guarding behavior.

If your pet is showing any signs of pain or if they start behaving differently, consult your veterinarian right away. Many medical conditions that cause pain can be treated if caught early, but some can become life-threatening problems if ignored.

Please call us when you have questions about your pet. And have a beautiful Spring!
Dr. Bonnie