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Ask the Vet: What are the best things I can do for my pet?
Written by Melissa Magnuson, DVM, All Pets Veterinary Hospital, Nashua NH, Canobie Lake Veterinary Hospital, Windham NH, Greenland Veterinary Hospital, Greenland NH
We all want our furry friends to live forever. The question that is asked of me most is what is the best thing that I can do for my pet to keep him/her healthy. In my 20 years of being a veterinarian, here is what I find most essential:
1. Keep your pet lean! Start by feeding quality food and portion it correctly. Lean pets live a long time! The pets I see living the longest and having the least amount of problems are lean. Pets stay this way by eating high quality food (grain free foods for dogs, and wet grain free food for cats, and appropriate diets designed for our other furry friends) that is portioned correctly. Exercise is also an important aspect of keeping a pet lean.
2. Walking your dog everyday can do wonders for your dog and for you. Encouraging your cat to play, chase a laser pointer, follow you around the house or simply chase a crumpled up piece of paper gives a cat a good amount of activity.
Feed probiotics! Super important. The gut balances the immune system and when the gut is cared for a healthier immune system follows. There are many to chose from, talk to your veterinarian about which one is best for your pet and be sure to rotate them.
3. In New England you MUST protect your dog and outside cats with flea and tick preventatives year around. It is an absolute must. If you do not use flea and tick preventatives your dog WILL get a tick borne disease. It is a guarantee. Anaplasmosis (a tick borne disease) is at epidemic levels in New Hampshire. I don’t like using chemicals on my pets but I like tick borne disease less. To keep your dogs free of these diseases, tick prevention is crucial. There are many flea and tick preventatives, please talk to your veterinarian to find out which one fits your pet the best. These can come in the form of a collar, topical and oral.
4. Use heartworm prevention all year around too! I am seeing more and more heartworm disease. Why? Because so many southern rescue dogs are being imported and have heartworm disease and the mosquitos are passing it to our New England dogs that are not protected. Everyone must understand that heartworm prevention pills (or chews) kill the small heartworms that grow in your dog’s body every month. If you fail to give it every month, those small worms will grow into adult worms and cause serious heart problems. Be sure to give it once a month all year around. It is safe, easy and prevents serious disease! And remember…your cats and ferrets need heartworm prevention too!
5. See your veterinarian on at least a once yearly basis. Our pets hide disease, they are not complainers like us—if we don’t feel well, we tell someone! Our pets do not. Often times they do not show they are sick until they are really ill. Establishing a good relationship with your veterinarian and having the health checked on your pet at least once yearly is very important.
6. Lastly, BE SOCIAL! And I don’t mean Facebook! Interact with your pet daily and spend quality time playing with them. Our pets need us as much as we need them. Be sure to give the them the love and attention they deserve by walking daily, brushing, practice tricks, play ball, or simply chill on the couch together, you will both benefit, I promise.*
About Dr. Melissa Magnuson
Dr. Melissa Magnuson is a native of southern Minnesota, where she grew up on a small pig and cattle farm. Ever since she can remember, she’s wanted to be a veterinarian and fulfill her lifelong passion of helping animals. With a degree in biology and philosophy from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, she went on to work on a master’s degree at Southern Mississippi University. From there, she completed her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota in 1998.
Her internship in small animal medicine, surgery, and emergency medicine brought her to the east coast. She has a special interest in surgery, emergency medicine, and avian and exotic animal care. Because she absolutely LOVES veterinary medicine, she never feels like she’s at work. She feels very lucky to have found her passion.Dr. Magnuson is married to her best friend, Andy, with whom she has three beautiful daughters. Her pets include four dogs, three cats, a bird, a bearded dragon, and a guinea pig. In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family outdoors, biking, hiking, swimming, and reading.ask the vet, heartworm