By Angela Hickey, March 2023
Looking after your pets health is very important. As a pet owner you need to ensure you’re giving them best care and also recognising signs when they may be unwell. Although some health problems unfortunately can’t be avoided, there are steps you can take to minimise health problems in your pet. We’ve put together 5 tips to make sure you keep your pet as healthy and happy as possible.
- Avoid health problems by your choice of dog or cat.
Start as you mean to go on! Pro-actively choose a breed of pet which is not prone to genetic diseases and defects which will lead to a lifetime of illness and pain.
Unfortunately there are many popular breeds with problems such as the flat faced breeds ( Pugs, French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Shih-tzus, Pekinese, etc. - as well as many breeds of cat.) who have obstructed airways and struggle to breath daily or cool down in hot weather. They also often have bulging eyes leading to trauma or infection; tummy problems so they regurgitate food and may develop pneumonia if food goes ‘down the wrong way’, plus skin issues, spinal defects etc.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, as a breed, have high levels of Syringomyelia, where fluid builds up on the spine causing irritation and pain. This breed and others, like Boxers, are also predisposed to heart problems. Many dogs have a high risk of hip and elbow dysplasia that will often require major surgery and lifetime control of pain. Others run an increased risk of developing epilepsy and also other metabolic diseases related to their breed.
Read up about a breed you are interested in and be aware of health risks. Check if screening tests are available to assess your pet and go to a reputable breeder who will have screened its parents. By only buying a pedigree pup or kitten from disease free parents you are helping eliminate problems for your own pet’s lifetime and not supporting indiscriminate and excessive breeding from genetic lines with very poor health outcomes. The other great option is to be happy with a crossbreed who have much less risk of these genetic conditions as they are part of a much bigger gene pool so the ‘nasty ‘ genes are diluted out, making them a healthier alternative!
2 Prevent health problems by pro-active care.
You can be pro-active in keeping your pet healthy.
Take advantage of all your veterinary practice can offer you in terms of vaccinations, worming, and preventative care for ectoparasites ( fleas, mites, ticks etc.) to prevent nasty illnesses. Your young pet will need repeat doses of these items to help provide full protection. Then follow your vet’s advice about ongoing needs throughout your pet’s life. At the very least visit your vet once a year for booster vaccines and get regular parasite prevention.
Your vet will also advise you on the appropriate age to neuter your pet. Apart from preventing unwanted offspring this will also greatly reduce the risk of mammary cancer and womb infections in females as well as testicular tumours and prostate disease in males, if neutered early in life.
Prevent behavioural and emotional disorders in your pet by early training, behavioural advice from your vet or Behavioural Therapist and attention to problems in the early stages.
Prevent obesity and related conditions ( arthritis, Diabetes, heart disease, etc.) by following a strict, balanced and healthy diet for your dog from day one and by making plenty of exercise part of both of your lives.
3 Insure your pet for unexpected vet fees
In spite of the best care and preventative health you can give the unexpected can happen – a road traffic accident, a suspicious lump, a fractured bone or tooth, gastroenteritis, heart disease, arthritis etc. etc. Vet fees are very high and as companion animal vets invest in more and more sophisticated equipment and specialise in different branches of medicine, their costs increase. You will always want the best treatment possible for your pet but it is difficult to cope financially with a large unexpected bill. Pet Insurance can provide ease of mind in these cases as your regular premium will safe guard you against a sudden injury or a protracted illness. It is there to cover what you could not have predicted would happen to your pet, in spite of your best care.
4 Observe your pet and notice anything unusual
You are the person closest to your pet so trust your gut if you feel uneasy about any change of behaviour as pets often try to hide symptoms of being unwell. Watch for changes in eating habits, changes in pees and poos, any vomiting, soreness or lameness, discharges from eyes, nose etc., breathlessness, slowing down or lethargy, itchiness etc. Trust yourself to know if things are not right and seek advice.
5 Treat any health problem as soon as possible
If you do notice or suspect that something is not right do not delay in getting it checked out. The earlier a condition is diagnosed the best possible outcome there is for effectively treating it. This applies to infections, cancers, arthritis, itchy skin, excessive licking as a sign of stress in cats, urinary problems etc., etc.
The smartest choice is to investigate and treat early to return your well minded pet to good health again or to minimise long-term health problems.
At Allianz, we know your pet is just as much a part of your family as anyone else. Following these steps may help avoid unwanted illnesses and extra trips to the vet - keeping them healthier for longer.
Information correct as of date of publishing. This blog will not be updated or edited so the information may become outdated.