dvm (39)No one likes to think about a beloved pet growing older. We cringe, as the once exuberant puppy needs help up stairs or tires after a short walk. When the always-healthy family dog suddenly stops eating, we worry what the cause might be. Extending your pet’s life may require some effort and investment, but enjoying the extra years is invaluable.

As human medicine is moving from a disease-based model to a preventive, proactive approach, veterinary medicine is following the same pattern. It makes much more sense to prevent a disease rather than to attempt to treat one in our precious companions. Many veterinarians have shifted toward wellness protocols that get our pets into their offices two, three or even four times a year. More visits mean more chances to find small issues before they become big problems.

Our canine and feline friends age much faster than we do. With a life span of 12 to 15 years, disease processes can occur much more rapidly. This makes it very important to get regular checkups by your veterinarian. Early detection of lumps, bumps and disease processes leads to a higher success rate in treatment. This is especially important as our pets get older.

Many preventative measures contribute to extending the life span by allowing your pet to avoid health problems. A proper vaccination protocol protects from infectious diseases. Heartworm preventative and intestinal parasite treatments help control internal invaders. Flea and tick treatments keep away the external vermin and the diseases they spread. Regular teeth cleaning promotes good dental health and prevents tooth loss and dental disease.

A proper diet is also essential to longevity. Premium quality pet foods are “premium” for a reason; they are made with high-quality ingredients, formulated specifically for the life stage of your pet, and fortified with the proper quantities of vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients. A pet that eats better food will have fewer diet-related illnesses and will live longer. Your veterinarian is the best source of advice for well-health care for your pet.

Dr. Russell N. Ueckert has been providing veterinary care for animals in the Big Country for over 19 years. This article was produced in part with contributions from Veterinary News Network. For all of your veterinary needs look to www.bigcountryvets.com.