How to prevent your pet getting ill

How to prevent your pet getting ill

Having a sickly pet can be a worrying and costly affair – so take time to do everything you can to keep them healthy, says vet Marc Abraham

One of the secrets to keeping your beloved pet healthy and happy is to follow some simple rules of responsible pet ownership. Always be vigilant, and make sure you report anything that doesn’t seem normal (vomiting, coughing) to your vet immediately. These tips will help:

Lifestyle
Always make sure your pet is fed the correct amount of food and, if appropriate, the right life-stage diet. We all like to treat our pets, but make sure any treat you give them is healthy, with the excess calories removed from their daily food ration. Rabbits must be fed nuggets, not muesli mix, accompanied by meadow hay. Obesity, with its related health problems, is a growing issue among pets, so make sure your pet enjoys regular exercise.

Vaccinations
Like humans, pets need this form of protection, and must be regularly vaccinated against killer diseases lurking in their environment. These include parvovirus and leptospirosis in dogs, cat flu and leukaemia in cats, and myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease in rabbits. Ask your vet for more details.

Parasites
Pets pick up all sorts of parasites from their surroundings, so it’s important to be aware, administering flea, worm, tick, lungworm and even lice treatments when necessary. Rabbits and their environments must be kept clean to protect them against flystrike disease – which can be fatal.

Exercise and playing
Exercise and playing are essential for keeping both minds and bodies in good working order. Safe toys keep pets mentally stimulated, preventing boredom and associated behavioural problems. A healthy dose of outdoor life helps maintain your pet’s cardiovascular system and muscle usage.

Grooming and teeth cleaning
Grooming not only strengthens the bond between you and your pet but also helps detect any cuts, grass seeds, or lumps and bumps requiring veterinary attention, as well as promoting healthy oils in your pet’s hair. Tooth brushing can help identify potential problems with teeth and gums and should always be carried out using pet-friendly toothpaste and an appropriate brush.

Pet insurance
A must for all pet owners. We don’t always know what’s around the corner, so make sure you can pay for whatever life throws at your pet! From broken legs to twisted stomachs, pet insurance is essential – but always do your research to find the best policy that suits both your pet and your budget.

Regular check-ups
Six-monthly check-ups, recommended by most vet practices, are one of the best ways to prevent illness. They give you a chance to talk your vet or a nurse about any worries you may have, such as abnormal growths, and get your pet weighed. If possible, take a urine sample in a sterile pot; blood tests can help detect early geriatric disease too.

Microchip
Finally, make sure your pet is microchipped, particularly if you have a dog. It may not stop them from getting ill, but it may prevent them being euthanised by a dog pound that only waits a week for strays to be claimed by their worried owners.

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