Pet Health Tips
Keeping your pet healthy is one of our top priorities at Wills Animal Hospital, and we believe that one of the best ways to do this is with client education. On this page is a list of pet health tips on a variety of topics, allowing you to be a more responsible, educated pet owner. Click on the headers below to learn more about each topic. If you have any questions not addressed on this page, feel free to Contact Us.
Did you know that about 85% of adult dogs and cats have some form of gum disease? Pets are susceptible to many of the same dental problems as people, including tartar build-up and gum disease. But unlike humans, sometimes the only indication of an oral problem is bad breath, which some owners tend to overlook. As a result, dental disease can progress to serious and potentially painful infection that can affect the heart, liver, and kidneys.
Since many pets are good at masking their pain, it’s important for you to establish a good hygiene regimen for them as soon as possible. The regimen should include daily brushing with pet toothpaste to help prevent any future oral problems. Yearly dental examinations and professional cleanings are important to help maintain good oral health.
Just like with people, pets should exercise regularly to maintain proper weight and joint health. Walks/runs, fetch, hide-and-seek, obstacle courses, and swimming are all great exercise options for dogs. If your companion is a feline, using toys, moving their food (to promote hunting), incorporating cat towers (to promote climbing), and using laser light toys (to promote chasing) typically work best to give cats some exercise opportunities.
Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks are more than just pesky parasites. Fleas can cause allergies and anemia while ticks can cause Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. To protect your pet from the dangers of fleas and ticks, we recommend using products that are designed to kill adult fleas and ticks while controlling future flea development. Remember to always check your pet’s fur for fleas or ticks if they came into contact with high grass areas, where ticks commonly thrive. We have a variety of products, both oral and topical, to choose from. We are happy to assist you in making the decision of what is best for your pet and your situation.
Regular brushing can promote healthier coat and cleaner skin while preventing hair balls for cats. Nail/claw trimming is another critical part of grooming. Regularly clipping your pet’s nails/claws can help prevent pain to paw pads (dogs) and damage to furniture. Before you begin clipping, it’s best to first ensure that your pet is comfortable with your touching their paws before you bring out the clippers. One way you can do this is by massaging their paws first. Regular grooming is also a good way to notice changes on your dog’s body. Bathing with a pet shampoo that is suited for your pet’s skin is recommended. Our staff can help you with these decisions.
Heartworm is a potentially fatal disease caused by parasitic worms that live in the heart and arteries of an animal. The larvae of these worms are transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Living in Owensboro, your pet is in a very high risk area of the country. The good news is that you can protect your pet from heartworm year round with a monthly preventative, which is much less expensive than treatment, or an injection that last 6 months. Due to the high risk of exposure, testing for HW disease is recommended annually.
Osteoarthritis is a common joint problem for dogs, especially seniors, larger breeds, and overweight dogs. Although this disease may be inevitable for some dogs, it can be prevented or delayed with proper nutrition as well as regular exercise to help maintain an ideal weight. Incorporating daily supplements is also a great way to keep your pet healthy and prevent joint problems in the future. We have special diets that help with maintaining a healthy weight and with joint health. If you have questions about your pet’s weight or joint condition, be sure to let us know at your next visit.
Prescription Food/ Supplements
Nutrition is key to many health issues and conditions. For example, there are specific foods that aid in the treatment of heart, kidney, liver, pancreatic, and joint diseases. There is also a new weight reduction food that alters you pets metabolism and accelerates weight loss. We also have supplements that treat skin and arthritis.
Puppies & Kittens
Starting your puppy or kitten off in the right direction is very important to their life long health. Vaccinations are a vital part of their veterinary care to prevent life threatening diseases. Several boosters will be necessary over the course of the first year in order to provide immunity for your puppy/kitten. Many puppies and kittens already have intestinal parasites contracted from the mother before they are even born. At each visit we will deworm your pet in order to protect you and your family from parasites. On your first visit, it would be best if you bring a fresh stool sample for us to analyze.
Most flowers look harmless, but did you know some of them can be toxic to your pet if ingested? American holly, lilies, aloe, blackjack pine, and begonias are just a few of the many plants that have been known to affect the GI tract of dogs and cats. It’s important to ensure your pet does not have access to any of these plants, whether it’s out in your garden or inside your home. If you prefer to have real plants in your home, refer to the ASPCA’s website for a list of toxic and non-toxic plants.
Behavior is often the defining factor of how well pets bond with their owner, so it’s best to train your pet and start when they’re young. Wills Animal Hospital is pleased to have a trainer on staff who teaches a puppy obedience class. Some of the topics addressed include housetraining, chewing, barking, coming when called, jumping, socialization, and basic commands (sit, stay, speak, etc.).
If your pet experiences motion sickness during car rides, try taking them on shorter rides around the block before the actual trip to acclimate them to traveling in a car. You may also want to consider medication to help them relax or combat nausea. If you’ll be flying to your destination, check your airline for the carrier and health certificate requirements. Keep in mind that not all pets do well with air travel, so you may want to consider boarding your pet at our hospital as an alternative. Visit our Services page to learn more.
Vaccinations should be included in your pet’s annual wellness visits, as they protect against a number of health conditions. These include rabies, feline leukemia, bordetella, and leptospirosis, to name a few. Vaccinations allow a pet to develop antibodies to fight off an illness so if ever they’re exposed to the real illness, they’re body will be prepared to fight it off. Vaccination schedules vary and are dependent on your pet’s breed, age, and lifestyle.