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HomeHealthGoals for 2024

Goals for 2024

Guess what? It’s January, 2024. When we roll the calendar from one year to the next, it’s important to assess if we met certain goals of the prior 365 days. Whereas resolutions are for the 1980’s, we now set achievable hallmarks for ourselves and our pets. Often-times we neglect certain important medical or husbandry needs, not out of ill intent, but simply because we are tied-up in our very busy world.

Now that the ball has descended in Times Square, make a commitment to your pet, assuring them the best healthcare and well-being for 2024. A few ideas:

An Annual Wellness Examination
The gift of wellness is priceless. This year be certain that all of your furry friends have a wellness exam, one where the veterinarian performs a physical, routine lab monitoring panels, assesses diet, and discusses overall well-being. Annual exams permit the veterinarian to address current issues, plan for the future, and detect problems, of which you may not be aware.

New Toy Once per Month
Enrichment is the spice of life. Pets live longer and healthier lives if they are intrigued by puzzles and new games / toys. The more they use their brains, the happier they tend to be. The same goes for us humans. And who doesn’t love a new toy!

Routine Vaccinations
Vaccines protect our friends (and us) from nasty diseases. Foremost is rabies. It exists here (recall the rabid fox on Capitol Hill recently) and is one of the more fatal diseases known. All dogs and cats need to be current on this vaccination. Distemper virus, parvovirus, leptospirosis, canine influenza, are some of the other ailments prevented via vaccination. Be sure your pet is appropriately vaccinated.

Heartworm and Flea/Tick Prevention
Bugs are everywhere. Heartworm is transmitted via mosquitoes, and with a combined sewer system in the District, we can have them present year-round. Ticks are present year-round, too. Fleas thrive in urban environments. Your fifth-floor cat isn’t immune to a flea infestation. Use preventives as prescribed by your veterinarian.

Longer Walks
Commit to taking longer, more frequent walks. Exercise is essential to health. Walking has been demonstrated to be low-impact on joints and high impact upon health! This exercise benefits you and your pet. For dogs it also adds new smells and experiences which exercises their brain.

Toss the Retractable Leash
This type of leash is dangerous, especially here in the city. They do not allow for control when around people, dogs, and especially cars! Most scary is that the locking mechanism can fail, permitting your dog to dart out into the street. And the rope is thin and can hurt your fingers.

Feed a High-Quality Diet
Trendy diets, rehydrated foods, grain-free diets, may not be healthy for your dog or cat. All the advertising in the world can’t make a food healthy. While the idea of boutique foods, frozen food, “natural foods,” may be appealing, most of these brands have no scientific data to show they are healthy. Some have even been found to be detrimental. Talk with your vet about feeding a healthy diet.

Add a Litterbox
The rule of thumb for quality of boxes is a box per cat plus one. One cat: 2 boxes. Two cats: 3 boxes. Cats like choice! Adding a box may lower their stress level, leading to a happier cat and healthier urinary tract. Also, scoop daily and remove the cover from the box. Cats don’t poop in caves!

Address Arthritis
Older dogs and cats frequently develop arthritis. Cats don’t become lazy in their older age, they simply are in discomfort when walking or jumping, so they do it less. Within the past year additional remedies for arthritis have been approved by the FDA, greatly increasing pet comfort. Let’s have our friends as pain-free as possible.

Dr. Teich is the medical director for District Veterinary Hospitals in Navy Yard, Eastern Market and Brookland. Visit www.districtvet.com for more information.  

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