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How to keep your pet healthy

Know these basics of pet healthcare, then tailor your routine to your furry friend

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Every pet needs a bit of exercise and quality time with their humans. However, you can take extra steps to keep your pet’s mental and physical health in tip-top shape, tailoring care to your specific dog or cat’s needs.

5 tips for keeping your pet healthy

Build these general healthcare tips into your routine, no matter what kind of pet you have:

This advice is general and does not factor in your objectives, financial situation or specific pet’s health needs. Before applying any tips mentioned, consult your vet and read the terms and conditions for any product you use for your pet’s health.

1. Focus on quality food.

The cheapest bag of food at your pet store isn’t always the healthiest for your pet. Look for brands with few added ingredients and watch for the nutrients that your pet needs the most, like meat. Steer clear of pet food with animal fat as a top ingredient since your pet probably doesn’t need high amounts of fat in their diet.

Ready to shake up the feeding routine? Try your hand at baking animal-friendly biscuits or treats, a fun activity for you and a chance for your pet to try something new. Just make sure to use vet-recommended recipes full of natural, healthy ingredients, and limit how many special treats you hand out.

Also, you can use food to keep your pet engaged and active. Turn dinnertime into a game by hiding your pet’s food around the house for them to hunt, or you can buy toys that dispense food as your pet moves it around.

2. Keep up with grooming.

Grooming your pet regularly has a positive impact on your pet’s health, preventing flea or tick illnesses or staving off infections. Grooming also helps you catch any abnormalities early.

Before grooming at home, make sure your pet has worked off energy through running and playing, then reward them with treats for good behavior throughout the process.

  • Brush regularly. Brushy your pet weekly at a minimum, and some pets need more if they have long fur. Also, brush before washing your pet to prevent their fur from matting.
  • Keep your pet clean. Talk to your vet about how often your pet should be bathed. Always use a shampoo that’s formulated for your type of pet.
  • Keep an eye on claws. Use clippers designed for pet nails if you need to trim them. If you’re worried about doing it yourself, you can find many video guides online or ask the groomer to trim long nails for an extra cost.
  • Look out for ears and eyes. You can use a moist piece of cotton wool to clean sensitive ears and eyes without hurting your pet.

3. Establish an exercise routine.

If your pet loves to run around, take your pet to the park or a field that’s open and free for public use. Try making a long walk part of your daily routine to let out pent-up energy when you get done with work.

If you don’t have time during a busy season, you might ask a friend or neighbor to take your pet to the park or keep your furry friend for a play-date. Playtime also helps your pet get some exercise, especially if you use games or toys that encourage movement.

4. Don’t forget the vet.

Vets are open for regular checkups and to give expert advice on looking after your much-loved companion. Prevention is better than trying to cure an illness.

Some vets provide an advice line or checkups via video – and those services might be covered by your pet insurance if you have a policy.

5. Buy pet toys – and play!

Toys can keep your pet entertained while you work and take care of other daily responsibilities. You can buy pet toys that stimulate your pet’s mind and keep them busy for hours on end. Then, make time to play with your four-legged friend. They’ll love the attention and the playtime gets both of you moving.

How to keep your dog healthy

Keeping up with your dog’s health doesn’t take much time. These small actions can prevent huge health problems later, while keeping your fun-loving pooch happy and active.

1. Understand your dog’s food needs.

You can use your pet food label’s feeding instructions as a starting point, then adjust amounts based on your dog’s activity and weight goals. A fit, healthy dog should show a shiny coat with no ribs peeking through and a narrowing at the waist.

2. Pay attention to your canine’s teeth and gums.

Your dog’s gums should look solid pink, although some breeds have black or pink mixed with black coloring. Bright red, pale or any other color may signal health problems, as well as any cuts or lumps. Most vets recommend that you brush your dog’s teeth or get yearly cleanings, and you can find teeth-cleaning toys on the market too.

3. Inspect your dog’s ears.

Many dogs never get an ear infection, but they might have one if you notice discharge or an odor coming from your dog’s ears. You’ll need to inspect your pup’s ears, especially for those cuties with long, floppy ears. If you see any problems, you can clean the ears easily with a cleaning solution and cotton ball.

4. Teach obedience.

You’ll probably face times when you need your dog to obey a specific signal. Training them before you run across those situations sets you up for success. Plus, you can add fun tricks that keep your dog’s mind and obedience skills sharp.

5. Keep up with vaccines and preventive medication.

Think about the risks your dog might face when deciding which canine vaccines they need. You also need to prevent pesky or health-threatening situations like fleas and heartworms, and most dog parents use preventive medication for that purpose.

How to keep your cat healthy

Whether you’re a new cat parent or are looking to give your long-time feline friend the best life possible, these tips set your kitty up for success:

  • Know your cat’s best nutrition. Watch nutrition labels on your cat food and be aware of how many carbs your cat is eating. Cats need very little of this nutrient — their diet should consist of mostly meat, like chicken.
  • Provide outlets for common kitty behavior. A scratching post or climbing tower can go a long way in keeping your cat from damaging your curtains or furniture.
  • Scoop out the litter box daily. Cats keep themselves clean for a reason, so you can bet that many prefer a clean litter box. Some kitties like specific types of litter, and you need at least one box per cat with additional litter boxes if your home has multiple levels.
  • Give your cat love and attention. Many cats love to be brushed and stroked, and one-on-one playtime can foster a bond between you and kitty. Other cats do keep to themselves, but you can watch for ways your feline likes to be loved, like occasional special treats or toys.
  • Give your kitty their own personal space. While any pet needs love and attention, cats specifically need places to retreat to, especially if you have other animals. Those personal spaces can include a cat bed and separate litter box from other cats in the house.

How does pet insurance help with everyday pet healthcare?

Pet insurance can keep your pet healthy by paying for vet care when you first spot a problem. Consider the benefits of different policies for your pet’s health:

  • Routine pet care. If you add or buy separate routine care coverage, you can get financial help for everyday wellness care like vaccines, flea and worming treatments.
  • Illnesses. Your illness policy can help with the cost of surgery, hospital stays, specialist care, medications and therapy, all expenses that can cost thousands of dollars for serious illnesses.
  • Accidents. In some cases, accidents can leave your pet in worse health than before the event, such as if an injured leg doesn’t heal properly. Pet insurance for accidents keeps your mischievous pooch or feline in tip-top shape.

Compare pet insurance to keep your pet healthy

Name Product Pets covered Seniors accepted Hereditary conditions Chronic illness
Petplan
Dogs, Cats
Cover unexpected vet bills from emergency exams, injuries, surgery and more.
Embrace
Dogs, Cats
Enjoy extra benefits with coverage for exam fees, curable conditions and wellness visit reimbursement.
Pet Assure
Dogs, Cats, Horses
Save up to 25% on all vet bills including wellness and dental visits for as little as $10/month.
PetFirst
Dogs, Cats
Get coverage starting at $9 per month for cats and $15 for dogs. Talk to an agent at 888-738-0683.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Taking simple steps in giving your pet a high-quality diet, mindful activities and love can make all the difference in your cat’s or dog’s health. If you have the extra funds and want peace of mind about your pet’s vet care, consider how pet insurance could support your pet and their health needs.

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