Having a pet can be very fulfilling and brings joy like no other. Pets are your true companions and if you are able to form a genuine bond with your pet, it will really be rewarding. As an owner, your pet will rely on you to keep them in good health. Habits like healthy eating, regular exercising, grooming, and routine vet check-ups are ways to take care of your pet.
It is important for you to be observant about your pet's habits with eating, drinking, sleeping, playing, etc. Change in any of these habits can indicate that an animal is not feeling well, so always pay attention to their behaviors. You should also have a trusted veterinarian close by that you can call or visit anytime you feel like your pet might be uncomfortable or in pain.
Studies have shown that the bond formed between humans and their pets like cats and dogs has many health benefits. This can promote fitness, lower stress levels, and of course, bring happiness. Here are the general benefits from having a pet at home:
- Lower blood pressure levels
- Decreased cholesterol levels
- Decreased triglyceride levels
- Decreased feelings of loneliness (or less frequent)
- Promote more social activities
- Promote exercise and movement
- Promote relaxation and calmness in the body
- Increase sun exposure and outdoor activities
- Instill a sense of responsibility
- Comfort and companionship
There are countless ways to take care of your cat or dog and ensure they will have a long and healthy life.
We recommend keeping an eye out for healthy (or not healthy) signs for your pet. Below are the seven things you can keep an eye out for as a responsible and caring pet owner!
1. Glossy Coat and Smooth Skin
It is no secret that how your pet looks is an indication of how they feel. Pay attention to your pet's coat and skin. The coat should be nice and shiny - unless you came from an outdoor trip through the woods or a swimming trip. But generally, when you rub their coat, there should not be any dandruff or excess oil. The skin should be smooth to the touch without flakes, scabs, redness, or wounds of any sort. Skin problems are common among outdoor animals so keep an eye out for any signs.
The skin color of your pet can vary on the breed. But generally, healthy skin color is light pink to dark brown. Any redness or unnatural spots might need to be investigated by your trusted veterinarian.
You may also want to keep an eye out for any parasites. Fleas or ticks usually hide on your pet's skin so they can be hard to spot if your pet has long, fluffy hair. Parasites can be avoided by using preventive medicines and regular vaccinations. Fleas are not very life-threatening but if there are too many, medicines may be needed to get your pet back in shape. However, there are some parasites that can really damage your pet's health, like heartworms. Thankfully there are vaccinations and medicines available to prevent conditions like this so make sure to complete all the preventive measures for your pet.
2. Bright Eyes
Bright eyes are a great indication of a happy, healthy animal. When your pet is gazing at you, observe their eyes if they look bright and shiny. Even if there is mucus or tears, it should be clear and minimal without disrupting their vision or covering their eyes too much.
Tears and tear marks are pretty common. But their eyes should be free of gunk and dirt! If your pet loves to play outdoors, you may want to clean around their eyes regularly. There are also some dogs that are more prone to tear marks - but to be sure, consult with your vet.
You should also check if the lining on the inside of their eyelids is pink. Inflammation, redness, or dryness are warning signs. If you observe any of these, it is time to call up your veterinarian.
3. Clean Ears
Some pet owners underestimate the importance of ear hygiene! The color of healthy ears should be a light pink, no matter the skin color of your dog. It is normal if there is some earwax, too, which is usually color yellow or brown. But if there is a lot of excess wax or crust, you may want to consult the vet. Wax or crust can form if there is an infection so it is definitely best to consult a professional if you observe something unnatural in your pet's ears.
Another thing to look out for is fleas. Oftentimes, ticks and fleas will hide in the floppy ears of our furry pets. Check all folds and corners of both ears thoroughly. A good way to prevent this is by bathing them regularly and cleaning their ears with soap.
If you observe that your pet is often scratching or shaking its head, there might be an ear problem so give your vet a call.
4. Having White Teeth and Fresh Breath
While our pets can have smelly breath sometimes, it should smell somewhat clean. Bad breath might be unhealthy or indicate that an adjustment is needed for your pet's diet.
As for the teeth, they should be more or less color white without plaque or tartar buildup. Some owners are apprehensive about brushing their pets' teeth but your vet can help you out with this. Same as humans, pets should have clean teeth because they chew different types of food every day. But it is more common to brush the teeth of dogs than cats. Cats are generally averse to grooming but if you can check their dental hygiene then that is ideal.
It is also important to check the gums of your pet. A healthy color is pink and no food remains should be in their mouth long after they eat.
When you take your pet for routine check-ups, ask for a dental assessment as well. Dental issues like periodontal diseases can happen to our pets, too, so prevention and early detection are key.
5. Healthy Bowel Movements
Did you know that your pet's waste is a good indicator of their health?
Their urine should be clear and yellow, while their solid waste should be brown and firm. Cats and dogs pee a lot - especially if they are well-hydrated - so this should not be a cause for concern. On average, pets will have 1 to 2 bowel movements daily.
If you notice irregular bowel movements like loose stool, dry stool, diarrhea, then give your vet a call. Your pet might be experiencing some stomach problems, like hyperacidity. Sometimes their solid waste also adjusts if there is something wrong or unhealthy in their diet. Pay attention if there are any changes especially if you recently introduced new food or treats to your pet.
6. Good Appetite
Different pets, breeds, and ages will have different dietary needs and eating habits. It is best to pay attention to your pet's eating behaviors and if there are any sudden changes in their appetite.
Poor appetite can indicate dental problems, disease, or even boredom. When cats and dogs consistently do not eat for a day or two, this might be an indicator of a serious disease so take your pet to the vet as soon as you can.
Nutrition is very important and it is the pillar of health for any animal. Your dog should have a healthy diet with proteins and carbs. Some professionals even recommend taking supplements that can have benefits for your dog like a glossy coat, stronger immune system, among others.
Liquid glucosamine chondroitin is a new product that can help with osteoarthritis especially in aging dogs. Wild Alaskan salmon oil is another supplement that you can give your dog because it contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which are an essential nutrient. Salmon oil is one of the few sources of the beneficial long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and also DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Health benefits of taking wild Alaskan salmon oil include:
- boosts development in puppies
- shiny coat and itch-free skin
- arthritis treatment
- support heart health
- stronger immune system
- anti-inflammatory properties
- helps against cancer and kidney disease
- lowers blood pressure
- stimulates appetite
- promotes weight gain for underweight dogs
The salmon oil dosage varies on your dog's height, weight, and medical history so consult with your veterinarian before adding this to their diet. Overall, fish oil is known to boost your pet's health.
These supplements can come in different forms like liquid oil or infused in treats. Either way, get clearance and recommendation from your doctor first and observe for any reactions or changes in your pet. You would be lucky if you notice that they enjoy eating the treats - a good win-win situation!
7. High Energy
Pets are generally ready for playtime and you can observe this when they get excited to see you or their toys. While every pet is different, most pets are eager to play! Healthy and happy pets are usually active and energetic especially if you engage them. However, the level of activity will vary depending on the pet's breed, age, weight, and other factors.
Cats are generally less engaging than dogs - but they are still sociable. Pet cats have their own ways to play and stay active during the day. They also play with toys a lot more than (adult) dogs do. There are many toy options for cats and if they are really active, they will love a scratch post! Otherwise, they will just climb on top of household objects and furniture around the house.
Keep an eye out if your pet is usually energetic but suddenly becomes weak or disinterested. Low energy can indicate they are in pain or discomfort, so you might want to call your vet if this happens. Be observant if their energy level shifts during their regular walks, too. If they are sick with something, it will affect their energy level and make them less energetic than normal.
Give yourself time to get to know your pet’s own habits and it will become easier to notice any changes or reactions. Every pet is unique and the dynamics between pet and owner are always different.
These are seven signs of a healthy pet and they serve as a great starting point to ensure if your pet is happy in your care. Pets deserve the absolute best and if you do your best as their owner, you can give them a happy and healthy life.