I’ve been a pet-mom, lover and animal roommate for over 15 years. This time has given me a good amount of experience caring for and living with companion animals. It has offered me the chance to love and care for them, and with respect to their health; learn insights, combine these insights with scientific research and experience for wellness tips and best practices. Most of these lessons initially came from reacting to an issue but has evolved into a preventative approach through intentional care plans specific to their evolving needs.
Although the majority of US households had at least one companion animal before COVID-19, according to Shelter Animals Count, a nonprofit organization sharing sheltered animal statistics, in 2020 foster-based rescue increased pet adoptions by 19%. This equates to more than 26,000 additional adoptions reported by rescues compared to the same period in 2019. As more families are choosing to have animals in their households, this is a refresher and guide for those looking for insights and suggestions on how to keep companion animals healthier, increase their quality of life and cut expenses when it comes to vet costs.
Schedule Routine Check-Ups
Preventative care helps to both establish an accurate baseline for your pet’s well-being and health. It can also prevent or delay the onset of disease. Unlike children, animals cannot tell you they do not feel well, so finding the right veterinary care team, keeping vaccines current and maintaining a healthy diet and activity is key to optimizing their health and quality of life. In addition to the health benefits, being preventative can save thousands in unnecessary veterinarian visits and bills.
Before choosing a vet it is helpful to research common topics and issues pertaining to the breed and age of animals you care for to prepare to actively discuss care plans at clinic visits. And when choosing a vet, it can be helpful to ask friends for recommendations and join online communities with similar animals. Feel empowered to also call different organizations to compare practitioner philosophy, process, services and prices. As your pet’s caretaker and advocate, it’s okay to do research, shop around and find the right veterinarian group for your pet.
Use a Natural Approach
Many natural remedies not only treat and prevent disease but also tackle the underlying issues like chronic inflammation and a compromised immune system. For instance, dogs, cats and even humans can eat mushrooms to not only appreciate the umami flavor of a Shiitake mushroom but also benefit from the powerful antioxidant and antibiotic properties it and numerous other mushrooms offer. In fact, mushrooms have been used for over two thousand years and studies show that concentrated mushrooms can also help boost the immune system, heart health, and protect against cancer. With the increasing demand for natural, low-cost options like concentrated mushrooms, animal companies like Emisha Wellness are offering natural animal health products. Another therapy which works in humans, dogs, cats – mammals, is hemp CBD. With options like hemp CBD dog treats and hemp CBD catnip, the company offers evidence based options. Hemp CBD is another natural way to help alleviate and bring relief to pets suffering from some of the most common ailments like osteoarthritis, anxiety and seizures.
Choosing a Holistic vet is another way to implement natural interventions by considering the whole animal versus an isolated problem as traditional vets tend to do. According to the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, AHVMA, a Holistic vet is a practitioner who is interested not only in a medical history, but also genetics, nutrition, environment, family relationships, stress levels and other factors. They believe that in treating an animal a combination of both Western and alternative therapies should be applied. Holistic vets may offer options like rehabilitation, herbal medicine, acupuncture, aromatherapy and nutrition. It is important to understand each medical practice is different, so every practice offers their own unique mix of services. Browsing the website and even calling to speak with a vet technician can save time and money if you are able to learn this information upfront.
Keep Vaccinations Current
Keeping current on vaccinations is another important way to reduce the risks of your pet acquiring a fatal or debilitating disease. The costs of vaccinations vary and t address issues such as heartworm, lyme disease, parainfluenza, rabies and more. After a few years of receiving vaccinations during routine check-ups, I learned of alternative options like local and low-cost pet vaccination clinics. The vaccination clinics are frequently staffed with veterinarians from local practices and offer the same vaccinations as the traditional vet practice, but up to 50% cheaper. A quick location search for low cost pet vaccination clinics will populate with the closest locations and clinics in your area.
At some point in your pet’s life the vet may also prescribe medications. If you’re anything like me, I have often asked for a written prescription. This will enable you to compare prices either online or call around to find the lowest price at a local pharmacy. There are a whole host of online pharmacies and programs that offer discounted pet medications. For convenience and to support their business, I have often purchased medications from the vet however, it is not always practical to do so and also use the prescription savings card GoodRx which offers medications at a fraction of the price.
Activity & Eating / I&O
The health benefits are well documented for pets that have exercise in their life. Some benefits include denser and healthier bones, a healthier heart, more energy and less depression. However, navigating an active lifestyle can be challenging at times and especially with the current covid restrictions in place. Even still, dedicated active time outside helps maintain physical and mental health for the entire Pack.
Diet is also crucial. The right one can help keep a pet’s coat both shiny and healthy. And besides coat appearance, the right food can also boost both the Digestive and Immune Systems as well. After multiple food recalls I started making food for the household pets, but first discussed with a vet professional, researched online and asked other pet-parents for recommended options. Researching beneficial ingredients and quality measures companies have in place can help sift through the “noise” of products, slick marketing campaigns and understand good choices for your pet.
Maintaining Health & Well-Being
I’m a firm believer achieving balance of good health and well-being can be accomplished for both companion animals and myself. Your household is unique and I am certain have a unique way of achieving optimal health for the family. It may require tweaking the approach but once committed to the principles of having routine check-ups, incorporating natural therapies, exercise, proper nutrition – human and animal studies show these lifestyle techniques can help the entire family achieve wellness. And just like us humans, animals can also experience the same benefits of healthier bodies, more energy, less depression, less medication and decreased vet visits and costs.