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6 Tips for healthy pets

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

Take good care of your furry friends

Our pets can’t tell us what they need, so we have to be proactive in keeping them healthy. These six tips will help you help your pet live a long, happy life.

Brushing dog teeth

1Visit the veterinarian at least once a year.

We make annual wellness visits to our family doctors, and we should do the same for our pets. Most health problems are easier (and less expensive) to manage when they're detected early. When the vet sees your pet on a regular basis, she is better able to monitor potential health issues.

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2Brush your pet's teeth.

Proactive dental care helps prevent potentially serious oral problems ranging from gum disease to cancer. Brush your pet's teeth at home with a finger brush or pet toothbrush and pet toothpaste (no toxic human toothpaste, please!), and ask your vet about edible dental chews that help reduce tartar buildup.

You've come to expect "dog breath," but truly foul-smelling breath may indicate a problem with your pet's mouth or digestion. Bring it to the vet's attention.

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3Feed your pet well... but not too well.

Your pet's dietary needs change with age. With routine veterinary appointments, your vet can advise you on the best food for your pet's particular stage of life.

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for pets. Overfeeding is a common problem and can shorten your pet's life. As tempting as it may be, don't give in to guilt trips by offering extra portions of food. Stick to the serving sizes recommended by your vet or on the pet food package.

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4Exercise your pet daily.

It's not just overfeeding that affects your pet's weight -- it's also a lack of exercise. Both dogs and cats can be trained to walk on a leash easily. This super-easy exercise benefits not only your pet, but you as well!

And when the weather is less than ideal, exercise your pet indoors. Dogs love chasing motion-activated balls, and cats love climbing towers and scratching posts. Or, let them chase your kids around -- everyone will sleep better at night.

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>>

5Declare war on fleas & ticks.

We love our pet's soft, fluffy fur… and so do the parasites. Bath-resistant fleas and ticks are more than just a nuisance; they can cause serious health problems, too.

Preventing pests is a lot easier than getting rid of an infestation. Your vet may prescribe a product that you administer to your pet on a regular basis to prevent skin irritation and keep scratching to a minimum. And if you can control the parasites on your pet, then you won't have to deal with them in your home.

Protect your pet from pests >>

6Know your pet.

Believe it or not, your pet's behavioral health is every bit as important as its physical well being. It's pets with behavior problems that usually end up homeless. If you notice changes in the way your pet is acting, bring it to your vet's attention immediately.

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Do your best to care for your pet and it will reward you with a long, happy and healthy life.

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