With the arrival of 2015, not only is this a great time for us to set some New Year’s resolutions for a life of good health, but also for our animal companions. While every situation will be unique with individualized recommendations, there are some general pet health tips that I can make for most animal guardians regarding their companions.
Probably the most important part of good health for either owner or pet is remembering the old saying, “You are what you eat.” Unfortunately, most commercial pet foods sold in supermarkets and even recommended by well-meaning veterinarians, are made with poor quality ingredients, along with toxic preservatives. I have found the best possible diet in most situations is a proper and balanced homemade diet. While some will argue the benefits of raw vs. cooked, it is the freshness and quality of ingredients that is most important. There is an abundance of reliable and available published information on this topic, as well as an increasing number of holistic oriented veterinarians more familiar with proper nutrition. If this is not possible, than there are certainly increasing numbers of excellent quality natural commercial diets. Given the role of excessive and unhealthy carbohydrates in chronic inflammatory diseases in both people and animals, I usually recommend animal guardians choose a low- or no-carb based diet, if going with a commercial diet.
Along with an excellent diet, I also recommend certain nutritional supplements for enhancing health for most pets. This would include a good quality probiotic and digestive enzyme, omega 3 fatty acids, and antioxidant supplements to help prevent free radical damage and inflammation seen with most chronic diseases. There has also been increasing evidence of the health benefits of coconut oil, as well as turmeric in both people and pets.
If it has been 6 months to one year since your pet’s last veterinary exam, it is probably a good idea to have a thorough physical exam done by a local veterinarian. Depending on the age of the pet, metabolic blood screens to check liver and kidney function, urine analyses, and fecal evaluation also should be considered. Getting pets tested for heartworms, as well as possibly on a monthly preventative also may be a good idea in the New Year.
While vaccinations do play a role in preventing certain infectious diseases at susceptible ages, animal guardians should be aware of the pet over-vaccination problem, and ask for less frequent vaccinations or possibly measuring vaccination titers in their pets, instead of simply routinely vaccinating their pets injudiciously.
Given the role periodontal disease may play in chronic diseases of the heart, liver and kidneys it is also a good idea to have a thorough oral exam performed by a veterinarian, as well as implementing some sort of regular dental hygiene program in our feline and canine companions. With the increasing awareness of obesity and is role in many chronic diseases in pets and people it is probably a good idea to institute some sort of exercise program as the new year gets under way.