What does a healthy pet look like?

What does a healthy pet look like?

healthy pet

‘A healthy pet is a pet that looks happy,’ says Dr Ginsberg. She offers the following guidelines when it comes to checking up on the health of our dogs and cats:

Healthy dogs

  • Bright eyes free from discharge, and pink eyelids.
  • Pink gums and clean teeth free from tartar build-up. Check the back of the mouth too as problems occur frequently with these teeth. Tooth and gum disease is one of the most common and most frequently missed conditions in dogs and cats.
  • Bright, alert, and responsive demeanour.
  • Glossy coat free from external parasites such as ticks and fleas.
  • Wagging tail (most of the time).
  • Comfortable gait with no limping when walking and running.
  • Regular urination and defecation (at least once or twice a day).
  • Healthy appetite and willingness to drink water regularly.
  • Their body condition should be good; not too thin and not too fat. ‘You should be able to feel each individual rib and the spine, but not see them sticking out; there should be a slight indentation at the waist just behind the rib cage. Anything more is too fat and anything less is too skinny,’ Dr Ginsberg advises. Some breeds, such as greyhounds, are thinner by nature and others, such as bulldogs, are slightly plumper, but the same guidelines apply.

READ MORE: IS MY PET’S WEIGHT OKAY?

Tip: Take note of how much your pets usually eat and drink, and remember that a sudden increase in appetite, water intake, urination, or defecation can also indicate illness or disease.

Healthy cats

‘Cats are slightly different to dogs because they don’t necessarily show their excitement and discomfort the same way dogs do; they give more subtle signs,’ says Dr Ginsberg.

  • Bright, alert, and responsive.
  • Bright eyes free from discharge, and pink eyelids.
  • Pink gums and clean teeth free from tartar build-up.
  • Glossy coat free from matting and external parasites. Your cat should groom itself regularly; if their coat
    starts looking unkempt, something might be wrong.
  • Healthy appetite and willingness to drink water regularly.
  • Regular urination and defecation (at least once or twice a day). As far as you can, make sure your cat urinates regularly. Bladder disease is very common among cats; early detection is key. If bladder
    conditions remain untreated they could be life-threatening.
  • Relaxed and comfortable demeanour, erect ears, coat lying flat on their backs and generally showing interest when interacting.

READ MORE: 5 SIGNS YOUR KITTY IS UNHAPPY IN HER ENVIRONMENT

Note: ‘Cats don’t usually show pain as easily as dogs. Look out for these signs of pain or discomfort: increased
vocalising, slight limping, decreased activity levels, not jumping or moving around as they usually do.’

How to keep your pet happy and healthy

healthy pets

Feeding 

The foods found in supermarkets are usually not very high in nutritional value compared to the veterinary approved lines of food,’ says Dr Ginsberg. She specifically recommends veterinary-approved brands as these are exceptionally good quality foods that are scientifically formulated to have everything that a dog or cat could possibly need.

Choose the right food for the correct life stage

Buy puppy food for your puppy and adjust their diet as they get older. Large breed puppies need to be on a good quality puppy food for two years, small and medium breed dogs, as well as cats, only need to be on puppy or kitten food for one year.

Don’t supplement a puppy’s food with extra calcium

It can cause your puppy to grow too quickly when they really need to grow slowly to ensure good bone and joint quality.

Help your pets not to rush

There are plenty of educational feeders, puzzle feeders, and slow feeders that help your pets not to eat too much too quickly. They turn feeding into an interactive game that encourages slower eating and keeps your pets’ minds engaged.

Avoid raw meat

A raw meat diet for pets is based on the premise that dogs descend from wolves and their wild counterparts lived on raw meat caught in the wild. Although this is true, our domestic dogs have adapted to the point where they’re almost omnivorous. Many pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella spp., E.coli, and Campylobacter can multiply in raw meat and cause life-threatening illnesses in pets and humans. Tapeworm infections can also be caused by raw meat.

READ MORE: PET FIRST-AID KIT ESSENTIALS

Grooming

Brush long-haired dogs regularly and only use dog shampoo when you bath them. Depending on your breed of dog, you might want to have them professionally groomed and trimmed. Cats groom themselves but long-haired cats might need daily brushing with a special soft cat brush. Bathing can be done but is not for the faint hearted. It might be a good idea to take your cat to a vet where there is an on-site parlour in case a light sedation is needed to bath and clip him/her.

READ MORE: MY PUPPY HAS FLEAS! WHAT DO I DO?

Playing

Dogs usually love walks or runs outside and games with a ball or other toy. Kong toys are great because they’re strong and can be used with food or treats as puzzle feeders. Training sessions and socialisation classes are also a good idea. Outdoor cats get lots of exercise by climbing, running, jumping, and hunting, but indoor cats need a bit more help when it comes to enough exercise and stimulation. Games with teaser toys or cat balls get them moving around and should be played for at least 10-20 minutes a day. Scratching posts and cat trees also enrich a cat’s environment.

COMPILED BY CANDICE CURTIS CONTRIBUTORS: DR MELVYN GREENBERG AND DR EBENEZE GINSBERG PHOTOS: FOTOLIA.COM

The advice contained on this page is strictly for informational purposes. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional Veterinary advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Always consult your vet or animal behaviourist for specific information regarding your pets.

Joni van der Merwe

About Joni van der Merwe

Digital editor I’m getting married in 2018 and I think it’s the perfect time to focus on my relationship with not only my fiance but my friends, family and colleagues too. I want to nurture and cherish the people I love by being more understanding and present in their lives.

Top

Send this to a friend