Whether fall is when you switch out your exercise regimen or schedule your annual flu shot, staying healthy is at the top of most “to do” lists right now. Just remember your four-legged family members when considering seasonal changes to your wellness program. Fall is the perfect time to take steps to keep pets healthy, too.
1) Plan that vet visit. Annual check-ups that include immunizations, physical exams, routine blood work and prescription refills are as important to pet health as they are to human health. Routine wellness visits can also save pet-care dollars in the long run through preventive care and early disease detection. If your pet missed his or her annual check-up last spring, consider getting that visit rescheduled. Most veterinarians offer pet wellness appointments with curbside drop-off and pick-up to help safeguard owners’ health.
2) Get off the couch. Summer’s heat is giving way to cooler temperatures, so resist the temptation to forgo your dog’s evening walk for yet another movie marathon. Not only will outdoor exercise help whittle your pet’s waistline and promote joint health, but getting outside to enjoy the fall colors can boost your own caloric burn and mental outlook as well.
3) Don’t “fall” back on parasite prevention. Just because you aren’t slapping mosquitoes like you did in July doesn’t mean you should stop protecting your pets from parasites. The American Heartworm Society recommends giving heartworm preventives — many of which prevent a host of common parasites — to dogs and cats year-round. While heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, it’s nearly impossible to guess when you’ll see the last one in the fall or the first one next spring. Disease-carrying mosquitoes can also survive as temperatures drop by migrating indoors or to protected areas near houses and other buildings.
4) Rethink your pet’s fall wardrobe. Protective wearables make more than a fashion statement for many pets. Arthritic senior dogs, as well as short-haired dogs or lean breeds that chill easily, will be more comfortable if you slip on a cozy fleece coat when clipping on their leash. Just make sure your pup’s garment has a snug vs. a tight fit — and consider coats with reflective fabric if you favor nighttime walks. And if your fall activities include hunting with your dog, make sure to outfit your four-legged companion with a hunting vest.
5) Hide the Halloween treats. Whether or not your kids go trick-or-treating this year, you may be making plans to stock up on Halloween candy. Just remember that certain human treats may be toxic to your pets. Chocolate is hazardous to both dogs and cats, sugar can throw off your pet’s electrolyte balance and certain artificial sweeteners can cause liver failure in dogs. So go ahead and keep the candy to yourself. Just keep it away from your pets while you’re at it.
Staying healthy has never felt more important than it does this fall. Do your pets a favor and prioritize their health, too.