As veterinary professionals, we naturally love animals and enjoy caring for them each day. In addition to being doctors, we are teachers. We carefully listen to the questions asked by concerned pet owners and then thoroughly answer them in a way that provides pets with the best care possible, in the hospital and at home. Here is a list of frequently asked questions by pet owners. Have you asked at least one of these during your pet’s last visit to the veterinarian?
What should I feed my pet and how much?
Nutrition-related concerns are common because there are so many choices. First, we like to know what your preferences are as a pet owner. Many people want their pets to eat in a way that matches the choices they make for themselves. This includes eating organically, gluten-free, or preservative free. Fortunately there is a wide selection of complete and balanced pet foods to help you accomplish this goal.
If you prefer a simple commercial name-brand pet food, something with the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) seal is a good choice. This seal ensures that the food is complete and balanced for all life stages of your pet. The feeding guidelines on the label will help you determine the quantity of food. However, the actual amount of food will depend upon:
- Your pet’s activity level
- Overall health
If you have any questions, be sure to consult with your veterinarian.
Should I feed my pet dry food or canned food?
This is often a choice based on the preference of the owner and the pet. In cases of certain diseases or treatments, the options should be discussed with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist.
For more feeding guidelines, visit the American College of Veterinary Nutritionists.
How often should I bathe my pet?
Depending upon the species, coat, and environment, many pets only need to be bathed when they are dirty or smelly. Your pet’s coat provides natural protection and insulation from heat, cold, and dirt.
Many pets have an oil layer on their skin that provides further protection and helps keep the skin healthy. When bathing, that oil layer is often temporarily removed, and if the pet is bathed too frequently, it may lead to dry skin. Basic grooming, such as trimming non-shedding coats and brushing or combing shedding coats, is usually sufficient to keep your pet clean.
When a bath is required, choose a gentle shampoo that is made specifically for pets. If your pet requires more frequent bathing, consider using a conditioner or rinse after shampooing.
Your pet may have a skin condition and require a trip to the veterinarian if you notice the following:
• A persistent odor to the skin
• Persistent scratching
• Open sores
The doctor may prescribe a medicated shampoo and recommend a bathing schedule. A referral to a veterinary dermatologist may be made if the problem is severe or difficult to treat.
How often should I bring my pet to the veterinarian?
Veterinarians will often provide a schedule depending upon vaccination and preventative care needs. Young pets will initially require more visits during the first few months. Healthy young adult pets should be examined at least yearly. Older pets, or pets with special health needs, may need be seen every six months or sooner.
What happens if my pet has a problem or emergency after normal business hours?
Most veterinary hospitals make arrangements for after-hours coverage. They may cover their own emergencies or refer them to another hospital that is open 24 hours or just overnight. Ask your primary care veterinarian for this information in advance. It may also be available on their after-hours answering message.
What can I do to keep my pet healthy?
Preventative care is very important. In addition to the basics of good nutrition, fresh water, and appropriate housing or protection from extreme weather conditions, there are several things you can do to keep your pet and your family healthy and safe.
- Keep current on vaccines. Some of them not only protect your pet from disease but also protect people. The most common one of these is the rabies vaccine. In most cases, there is a legal requirement to maintain that protection.
- Practice parasite prevention. Parasites, both external and internal, are a concern for our pets and they can sometimes affect the human members of the family. There are many safe and effective products available to protect your pets against fleas and ticks as well as intestinal and blood parasites. Ask your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet and your family. Options can vary depending upon your pet’s environment and potential exposure.
For more information on how to keep your pet healthy and happy, be sure to speak with your veterinarian. If you are looking for a veterinary specialist, visit the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital website.