Healthy. Happy.

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Posted by Pets Best on 10/27/2008 in Articles from Newsletters

For humans, staying happy can be a complicated issue. Not so for pets, who, as long as they are healthy, loved and well cared for, are almost always happy. With National Pet Health Month in full swing, now is a great time to perform a check-up on your pet’s health care and make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect your furry friends. Here’s what you should be doing to help maintain their good health, plus the top ten signs that your pet may be feeling ill.

Regular Wellness Exams
You probably visit your doctor, and your dentist, for a yearly checkup. Your pet, though, ages up to seven times faster than you do—if you take your pet to the veterinarian once a year, it’s like you seeing your doctor or dentist just once every seven years! Pets who have reached middle age should have a wellness exam every six months.

What should your wellness exam include? The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) endorses this list of ten important health screenings for adult dogs and cats. Your veterinarian may recommend additional tests, depending on your pet’s age and other factors.

-Osteoarthritis check
-Parasite check
-Chest radiograph
-Heartworm check
-Thyroid check
-Dental health
-Blood panel (CBC)
-Chemistry panel

Keep in mind that BestWellness, an optional plan available to Pets Best policyholders, provides annual benefits toward wellness exams as well as tests including blood panel, heart worm, and urinalysis, plus numerous vaccinations and more, all with no deductibles.

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Which Vaccinations? How Often?
According to the AVMA, not all pets should be vaccinated with all vaccines. Your veterinarian should determine your pet’s needs based on the pet’s health, potential exposure, access to other animals, and travel to other geographic locations, since these factors affect your pet’s risk of disease.

Likewise, the best vaccination schedule should take a number of factors into account. A set of annual vaccinations used to be the norm, but doctors now recognize that while some vaccinations offer disease protection that lasts longer than a year, others may fail to protect for a full year. Your veterinarian should design the most effective vaccination routine around the specific needs of your pet.

Signs of Trouble
Even with the help of regular exams and vaccinations, your pet may still get sick from time to time. But pets, unlike people, won’t tell you when they don’t feel good, especially our feline companions—it is up you to watch for the signs of illness. Pet health problems are easier to treat when they are addressed quickly. Remember that the list below is not exhaustive. Pets have plenty of ways to let you know they are not feeling well, but you should definitely call your veterinarian if your pet shows any of these common symptoms:

-Loss of appetite for more than a day
-Drinking more than usual for days
-Gaining or losing a lot of weight quickly
-Strange behavior including sudden viciousness
-Being unusually sluggish and tired
-Trouble getting up or laying down
-Strange lumps
-Abnormal discharge from eyes, nose, or elsewhere
-Excessive head shaking, scratching, licking or biting
-Dandruff, loss of hair, skin sores, a ragged or dull coat

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