The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Wellness as “…the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal.”
While “wellness” is a buzzy word conjuring up life with a yoga mat and plenty of green juice, I don’t think anyone would deny that everyone wants to feel good – pets included.
So in honor of Pet Wellness Month, it’s a good reminder to consider your pet’s current state of health. Do they seem happy and healthy?
5 Tips for Pet Wellness Month
While “wellness” ideally accompanies every day and includes good nutrition and plenty of exercise, it never hurts to check in from time to time and ask yourself the following questions.
1—Does Your Dog or Cat Have Bright and Shiny Eyes?
Good health is reflected in the eyes. If your pet feels good, you’ll see it reflected in bright and shiny eyes, if not, then you’ll see it too. Cloudy eyes can be a sign of sickness (or cataracts, depending on your pet’s age.)
2—Does Your Pet Have Shiny, Soft Fur?
Like the eyes, the quality of your pet’s coat is a key indicator of health. Healthy animals have a healthy coat whereas sickly animals can have a greasy, dull, thinning coat. Bald patches, sores, and constantly itching skin are indicators there could be a food intolerance or other underlying medical issue. You can try diet changes and adding healthy omega 3’s. Your veterinarian can help too.
3 – Is Your Pet Showing Behavior Changes?
When normally friendly, outgoing pets seem grouchy, snippy, or remote, these are signs that they’re not feeling well. Make a note of it the first time it happens and I’d recommend writing down the exact behavior changes you see using your phone’s note function so that you can track it if it continues.
Your pet could be in pain and showing early symptoms of arthritis, diabetes, or organ failure, among other things. Or, it could be nothing and clear right up. That’s why it’s good to make a note that you can refer to later unless you have an amazingly accurate memory.
4- Normal Bathroom Functions
Good digestive health results in normal elimination. At the same time, it’s not unusual for dogs, especially, to eat something they shouldn’t and have tummy troubles resulting in diarrhea or a soft stool. That said, the occasional tummy upset is one thing, but a chronic case is another and a reason to visit your veterinarian because it could be the symptom of something more serious.
5- Don’t Overfeed
Over 50% of dogs and cats in the US are overweight. Being overweight puts extra strain on their organs as well as makes them feel sluggish. The combination often results in ill health and an early death.
Resist the urge to show your love only through food and make sure you also help your pet get an appropriate amount of exercise.
6- Have “Wellness” Visits
Animals age faster than humans. You’re probably familiar with the concept of “dog years” where dogs age roughly 7 years to a human year. It’s a little different for cats but they also age faster than people.
That means, that seeing your veterinarian at least once a year -- twice a year if your pet is over 7 human years – can help your veterinarian catch any changes or potential problems sooner rather than later. Early detection is easier and cheaper than trying to treat advanced illnesses like cancer or diabetes.
Living a healthy life with your pet may sometimes sound like commonsense – eat well, get exercise – yet, it’s harder to do in practice sometimes which is why Pet Wellness Month is a nice opportunity to check in and see where we’re doing well and what we can improve.