Have you ever thought, “I need to find a veterinarian near me who’s skilled at treating medical issues and is also an excellent communicator.”? Good veterinarians value the relationships they build with their furry patients and their patients’ human companions and are always glad to answer pet health questions. The next time your pet visits the vet, keep these questions in mind.
Is My Pet Overweight or Underweight?
Obesity rates are rising for U.S. men, women and children, but weight issues are also a problem for our pets. Approximately 53 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats were overweight in 2015, according to the Association for Pet Obesity.
Obesity can lead to a number of serious health problems, including:
- Type 2 diabetes
- high blood pressure
- joint injuries
Your pet is at increased risk of developing these problems by gaining as little as a pound or two. The more your pet weighs, the greater the risk becomes.
Being underweight isn’t as common in pets as being overweight, but weighing too little may also cause health problems. Failure to receive enough nutrients can affect your pet’s development, growth and behavior.
How Can I Help My Pet Achieve or Maintain the Ideal Weight?
Just like people, most pets become obese because they eat too much. When your pet looks up at you with sad eyes, it’s tempting to add another handful of kibble to the bowl. Although your pet may want more food, that doesn’t mean they need more.
Some pets become overweight if they continue to receive food intended for puppies and kittens when they reach adulthood. These foods contain extra calories and nutrients that growing animals need. Fully grown pets don’t need as many calories, although they won’t turn down puppy or kitten chow.
Your pet’s vet will make food recommendations based on your furry friend’s age, breed and size. He or she will also take into account any health conditions that may affect your pet. In addition to making food recommendations, your veterinarian can also tell you how much exercise your dog or cat needs to stay fit and healthy.
What Health Issues Are Common at This Age?
It’s easier to spot signs of illness when you know what types of health issues commonly affect pets at various ages. For example, diabetes is most often diagnosed in dogs between the ages of 7 and 10 and in cats 6 or older.
If your pet is in this age range, look for signs of the disease, such as increased thirst, frequent urination, decreased appetite and chronic infections. Asking your pet’s vet for information on common diseases can help ensure your pet receives prompt treatment if they show signs of any of these illnesses.
I’ve Noticed These Changes. Do You Think They’re a Problem?
Because you spend so much time with your pet, you can probably tell when something is wrong, even if there are only subtle changes in your pet’s appearance or behavior. Although you may think minor changes aren’t worth mentioning, little problems can often be a sign of a serious health or behavioral problem, resulting in a trip to the emergency vet if they suddenly become worse. Mention any changes you notice, including:
- Changes in behavior, such as nipping, increased aggression or marking behaviors
- Lethargy or reduced stamina
- Lumps and bumps
- Bald spots and other coat and skin issues, such as increased shedding or a greasy coat
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits
- Frequent barking or meowing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bad breath
- Changes in level of affection
- Difficulty handling stairs or moving easily through your home
Is My Pet Up to Date on Healthcare Milestones?
During the visit, ask if your pet is due to receive immunizations or dental cleaning. Gum disease is common in pets and can cause pain and tooth loss. The problem occurs when plaque on teeth turns into a hard deposit called tartar, which can be removed only with special dental instruments. When tartar extends below the gum line, it can damage gum tissue, bone and even the ligaments that help hold teeth in place. The veterinarian can make recommendations regarding how often your pet’s teeth should be professionally cleaned.
Is it time for your pet’s next vet exam? Don’t forget to bring a list of questions about your furry friend’s health and behavior when you visit.
WebMD: 10 Questions Everyone Should Ask Their Veterinarian
Pet Health Network: Five Questions to Ask Your Veterinarian
AVMA: Diabetes in Pets
Petfinder: 10 Questions Cat Vets Wish You Would Ask
Association for Pet Obesity: 2015 Pet Obesity Statistics