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How to Create & Maintain a Healthy Environment and Lifestyle for your Pet

We know you love your pet and want to do everything in your power to help them remain healthy and happy throughout their life. That's why our Voorhees veterinarians are sharing a few tips on how to create a healthy environment and lifestyle for your four-legged friend.


Keeping Your Pet Healthy & Happy

Pets can help you lower your blood pressure and improve your mood just by having them around (not to mention the physical exercise you get taking them on walks and playing with them), but how can you ensure your pet receives the best possible care in return, and lives their best life?

Our veterinarians in Voorhees offer some tips to ensure your pet's lifestyle supports their safety, health, and happiness:

1. Provide optimal nutrition. 

Meeting all of your pet's nutritional needs will go a long way to helping them develop a strong immune system and maintain their physical and mental health. Your dog or cat will need a diet that contains all the nutrients they'll require for their age, size, and breed to achieve and sustain good health. Each meal portion should also be measured to ensure your pet receives the right amount of calories in their food to support a healthy lifestyle. 

Deciding what your pet should eat, as well as how much and how often to feed him or her, can be daunting, but our veterinarians at Voorhees Veterinary Center are here to help. We understand nutritional requirements for cats and dogs of every age and breed, and are happy to assess and discuss your pet's needs, from type of food to portion size. 

2. Ensure your dog or cat gets daily exercise. 

Ever notice that the more tired your dog is, the happier they seem? A long daily walk (rain or shine) promotes physical fitness for both you and your pet, and helps keep your dog's brain active. Regularly exposing your canine companion to new places, people, smells, noises, and even other pets while safely by your side can help your dog feel content from puppyhood through their adult and senior years. 

Those long walks can also help you build a strong, loving bond in addition to improving your physical fitness. Two 30-minute walks a day is a good start for most breeds. However, ask your vet to determine the appropriate level of exercise for your pet - and of course, talk to your doctor before embarking on any new exercise program. 

While indoor cats have less physical space to wander, they still need exercise. Take time to play with your feline friend every day to ensure their mind and body stay active. Toys range from balls they can knock around with their paws to high-tech toys that make noise and move by themselves to encourage their natural hunting instincts. 

You might even consider a laser pointer so they can chase the dot of light around (be sure to never point the laser pointer at your cat to avoid damaging their eyes), which can provide hours of fun for your feline friend. Spend most of your time out of the house? Get your cat a cat tree or puzzle toy filled with cat treats to help keep them amused and happy during the day. 

3. Keep toxins out of your pet's reach.

While making sure to provide the right food and exercise for your beloved pet, there are some things they should never have access to, including many human foods and medications that can be dangerous to our beloved four-legged companions.

Raisins, chocolate, NSAIDs such as Naproxen and ibuprofen, fabric softener sheets, any foods or drinks containing the artificial sweetener xylitol, toilet cleaning pucks, and some essential oils are a few common foods, medications, and household items that can poison dogs. Keep in mind that a variety of foods and household items are toxic to dogs. To avoid veterinary medical emergencies or tragic accidents, pet-proof your home every time you put away your groceries. 

While cats are typically less likely to eat things they shouldn't, there are some foods you should also keep out of your cat's reach, including candy, raisins, onions, alcohol, garlic, and chocolate. Do not allow your cat to eat dog food and never ever give your cat human medications without consulting your vet. It's also important to note that many common household and garden plants are toxic to cats. While cats tend to be wise enough to avoid plants that can make them sick, kittens may be drawn to fluttering stems and leaves. Do your research before bringing home a new plant, even if it will be outside in your garden. 

4. Help your pet achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Another way to help your pet feel their best is to support your dog or cat in maintaining a healthy weight for their breed, age, and build. While many pet lovers find it normal to see chunky cats or dogs with a little extra girth around their middle, obesity can increase their risk of developing serious illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, or painful joint problems. Follow steps 1 and 2 closely to help your pet stay at a healthy weight throughout their life. If you have concerns about your pet's weight or questions about their diet or exercise routine, book an appointment with your veterinarian at our Voorhees vet center today. 

5. Create a special place for your animal to relax.

We all need a safe and comfy place to relax, and your pet is no different. Providing an area that has been created especially for your animal can be fun for you and give your pet a feeling of calm security. Most pets appreciate a space of their own, away from the hustle and bustle of busy children and/or other pets.

Cats often like a place to hide. Many cat towers include little hiding spots but simply putting a comfy blanket or towel into a cardboard box can help to create an ideal space for your cat to relax. Just be sure that your cat can get to their safe space whenever they want to get away.

The size of your dog will determine how special a place you can make for him. Some dogs prefer to relax in their own crate, while others prefer the solitude of a bed tucked into the corner of a small room like a laundry room. Your dog will undoubtedly give you hints about which rooms they prefer to relax in and which pieces of furniture they prefer.

6. Make annual dental exams a must.

Your pet's oral health has a significant impact on their overall health. Your dog or cat will be in pain if they have gum disease, decayed or broken teeth, but these conditions can also have a negative impact on their overall health, leading to conditions like heart disease. Take your animal companion for regular dental cleanings and exams to help them maintain good oral health. Dental hygiene can help to prevent more serious conditions that can be expensive to treat.

7. Keep your pet's vaccines and parasite prevention up to date.

Keeping your pet's vaccinations up to date and administering appropriate parasite prevention medications as needed can help to protect your pet from a variety of highly contagious and serious diseases that can harm your animal's long-term health and longevity. The vaccination and parasite prevention needs of your pet will be determined by their lifestyle. A hunting dog who spends a lot of time in tall grass and water, for example, will have very different needs than an indoor cat who lives in a New York apartment. Inquire with your veterinarian about which vaccines and parasite medications are appropriate for your pet.

It's important to note that in many states it is mandatory for all dogs and cats over 6 months of age to have up-to-date rabies vaccines. Do not skip your cat's annual vaccines just because they stay indoors. Speak to your vet for details on which vaccines and parasite prevention products are right for your feline homebody.

8. Make regular pet checkups central to your pet's yearly preventive care. 

Your vet is dedicated to keeping your pet healthy. By bringing your dog or cat in for physical checkups (wellness exams) your vet is able to take care of those essential vaccines, provide advice on nutrition, monitor your pet's weight, and watch for any developing health concerns.

Most healthy middle-aged pets should be seen once a year, but if your pet has an underlying health problem, is very young or elderly, your veterinarian may recommend visits every 6 months or more. Early detection of developing conditions allows treatment to begin when it is most effective. These checkups also allow your veterinarian to provide proactive treatments for elderly pets, which can help them feel more comfortable as they age.

The Bottom Line

Caring for a pet is a big responsibility, but following the eight simple steps above can help you form a strong emotional bond with your pet and give them the best chance at a long, happy, and healthy life.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Our veterinary team wants to help you provide your pet everything they need to be happy and healthy as they grow. Contact our Voorhees vet clinic today to schedule preventive care for your furry companion.

New Patients Welcome

Voorhees Veterinary Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of New Jersey's companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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