With the fortune of good health, the average pet owner may live to 80 or more years of age. This is light years longer than our pets’ 10 to 15 years, and almost certainly ensures we must endure the pain of their loss. Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved—but what if you could actually extend your pet’s life? Adamson Veterinary Services strongly believes you can add years to your pet’s life by prioritizing preventive and wellness care. Here are the top five ways to keep your pet healthier, longer.

#1: Regular pet wellness visits and disease screenings

Pets age faster than people, so disease develops and progresses more quickly. At regular wellness examinations, our veterinarian can detect diseases or physical changes earlier, when most are more responsive to treatment. Pets instinctually hide illness signs as a survival mechanism, but regular wellness visits can reveal diseases before they advance. Wellness visits also offer an opportunity to discuss your pet’s infectious disease risk and update their vaccinations, thereby preventing many common, potentially serious or deadly diseases.

Some disease processes start internally, and can be detected only with lab work or imaging tests. Annual disease screenings can analyze blood, stool, or urine samples, and help the veterinarian assess your pet’s organ and endocrine function to track trends and changes over time. Blood tests can detect some common diseases, including diabetes, kidney disease, and thyroid disease, before your pet shows any clinical signs.

#2: Meticulous pet dental care

Your pet’s oral health is key to their overall health and wellness. Dental disease affects nearly all dogs and cats older than 3 years, and may cause painful gum, tooth, and bone damage. In addition to lost teeth, pets whose dental disease is not treated can experience permanent heart, kidney, or liver damage if oral bacteria leach into their bloodstream. You can prevent dental disease by brushing your pet’s teeth daily, and using Veterinary Oral Health Council-approved dental products

Despite daily prevention, most pets require periodic veterinary professional dental cleanings, the same way you visit the dentist every six months in addition to your daily home care routine. Our veterinary team may recommend a dental cleaning if we notice significant plaque, tartar, or gingivitis during your pet’s next wellness examination.

#3: Pet parasite prevention and control

Parasites are not only a nuisance, but can also transmit serious diseases to your pets or human family members—for example, fleas carry the infamous plague, ticks can transmit Lyme disease, and mosquitoes carry deadly heartworms. Intestinal parasites, which steal nutrients and blood from the digestive tract, can also harm your pet. Some parasite-borne diseases can be treated, but they may permanently damage your pet’s health.

Years ago, products to prevent or control parasite infestations were limited, but many effective options are available today. Most products protect against multiple parasites and last 30 days or longer, so you can protect your pet completely by administering one or two monthly products. Ask our team which parasite prevention products are right for your pet.

#4: Pet exercise and weight management

Around half of U.S. pets are overweight or obese, according to a survey of veterinarians and pet owners—an alarming number, because obesity greatly increases your pet’s risk for certain diseases, including diabetes, arthritis, lung disease, and heart conditions. Proper nutrition can help your pet achieve a healthy weight, but since nutrition is not one-size-fits-all, you will need our veterinary team to help you address your pet’s specific nutritional needs. Exercise also helps maintain your pet’s weight, provides an outlet for excess energy, and offers opportunities for mental and social stimulation.

#5: Pet mental health care

Many pets develop emotional or behavioral health problems, such as anxiety or house soiling, or obsessive-compulsive disorders, such as self-destructive licking. These disorders often develop in genetically predisposed pets, but social and environmental factors can also play a big role. These pets may be under constant internal stress, which may result in physical manifestations, such as increased susceptibility to infections, inflammatory disorders, and urinary tract disease in cats. A veterinary behaviorist or trainer can help address serious behavior issues, but most pets benefit greatly from regular exercise, daily play sessions, socialization with people, dogs, and other pets, and regular training sessions. These activities can also improve your bond with your pet, which is beneficial for everyone involved.

The old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” A proactive approach can help you prevent pet illness or treat diseases in their early stages, rather than simply waiting for disease to take hold. The Adamson Veterinary Services team can empower you with tools to extend your pet’s life, so call us to schedule a wellness visit or consultation to start your pet down a longer, healthier path.