How to Ensure Your Pet Has the Longest, Healthiest Life Possible

May 6 through 12 is National Pet Week! This annual celebration sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offers an opportunity for veterinarians to join with clients to promote responsible pet ownership and honor the many amazing pets in our lives.

This year’s theme is “Barks, Purrs, Tweets, Neighs … Pets Speak Love Many Ways.” (The above image shows the 2018 poster contest winner.)

Celebrating the special bond between people and pets reminds us of the importance of pet health care and the need for owners and veterinary caregivers to partner to keep four-legged family members as healthy and happy as possible.

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of National Pet Week, AVMA has shared seven specific values that every pet owner should consider to ensure that their pet lives the longest, healthiest life possible.

1. Choose well, commit for life

Select the pet that’s right for your family’s lifestyle and make a commitment to that pet for its life. Even if you have already welcomed a pet into your home, your veterinarian can help you better understand the social and health care needs of your individual pet.

2. Socialize now—new doesn’t have to be scary

Learn about how to appropriately prepare your pet to enjoy a variety of interactions with other animals, people, places and activities. Everyone will be more comfortable!

3. Nutrition and exercise matter

With an estimated 53% of dogs and 58% of cats in the United States considered overweight or obese, and humans plagued by this issue as well, the AVMA encourages pets and their owners to get proper nutrition and regular exercise—together! This not only improves cardiovascular health, maintains a healthy weight, and supports good mental health for both owner and pet, but it also strengthens the human-animal bond. For tips on walking, running, or starting another exercise program with your pet, visit avma.org/Walking. Visit avma.org/nutrition for more information on your pet’s healthy weight.

Step It Up! is the Surgeon General’s initiative to promote walking. The program encourages brisk walking to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes in people. Dog owners know there is no better motivator for a walk than their canine companion. Recent scientific studies show that dog owners may get more exercise and are less likely to be obese than those who don’t own or walk a dog. Owners that walk their dog also had greater mobility within their homes. Other studies have shown that all pets, not just dogs, have been shown to lower heart rates and blood pressure as well as promote quicker recovery times from stressful events.

The Centers for Disease Control recognizes that keeping pets healthy keeps people healthy too. Visit cdc.gov/healthypets for more information.

4. Love your pet? See your vet!

Everybody loves their pet, yet a majority of cat owners and nearly half of dog owners do not take their pet to the veterinarian unless it is visibly sick or injured. Pets often hide signs of illness. Reular check-ups are vital to catching health problems early. Early treatment means better health for your pet. It can also save money!

5. Pet population control: Know your role

Do your part to prevent pet overpopulation. Talk to your veterinarian about when you should have your pet spayed or neutered. Avoid unplanned breeding through spay/neuter, containment, or managed breeding. To learn more, visit the AVMA webpage on spaying and neutering your pet.

6. Emergencies happen. Be prepared.

Include your pets in your family’s emergency plan. The AVMA offers a step-by-step guide to assembling emergency kits and plans for a variety of pets and animals.

7. Give them a lifetime of love

Thanks to better care, pets are living longer now than they ever have before—but as pets get older, they need extra care and attention. Regular veterinary examinations can detect problems in older pets before they become advanced or life-threatening, and improve the chances of a longer and healthier life for your pet.

Visit the AVMA’s special page for senior pets to find out what is “normal” and what may signal a reason for concern about an aging pet. Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not age at a rate of seven human years for each year in dog years.

To honor and celebrate all of the amazing dogs and cats that are a part of our Medical District Veterinary Clinic family, we invite you to bring in your favorite pictures, so we can post them around the clinic. You can also email them to gethelp@medicaldistrictvet.com. We can’t wait to see all of the adorable photos!

Amber Slaughter, DVM
Medical District Veterinary Clinic

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