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It’s Animal Wellness Week!

It’s Animal Wellness Week! October 4 – 10 is a time to reflect on the health and well-being of our companion animals.

There are a few things that are obvious – getting your pet to a vet at least annually for a physical – and a few that you might take for granted or not think about.

You may think of training as a “frill” – there are plenty of “bad” dogs who jump on their family, eat what they’re not supposed to and do things we’d rather they don’t. We still love them! But some basics – like recall command – can be literal lifesavers. Terms like “stay” can save a dog’s life in a dangerous situation. No matter how old a dog is, you should make sure they follow some basic commands. The American Kennel Club has a 101 on the subject. But British Columbia also has a great number of competent trainers.

Relatedly, playing with your dog, cat or other pet is not something that is merely fun. It is an important part of building bonds between you, and providing stimulation that helps your pet’s mental health and overall wellness. Here are some fun ideas for playing with your dog that are easy even indoors when the weather is not so nice. Here are some ideas for keeping your cat entertained.

Walking your dog is not merely physical exercise. The varied smells, sights, sounds and other sensations they receive on the walk are things they cannot get simply by going out in the back yard. Let them sniff. Think of it like reading an amazingly gripping book with an unknown ending. A mystery with twists and turns!

Take them for regular grooming. Dogs, but also cats, need professional grooming. Even shorthaired animals should receive grooming sessions because this can help detect signs of infection and also ensure attention to areas that need it, like their ears, nails and the bottoms of their feet.

These are a few things that you might not always associate with animal health.

More predictably, you should be sure that vaccinations are up-to-date, have regular vet appointments for general checkups, and talk to your veterinarian about medications for heartworm, fleas and ticks.

Changes in your pet’s behavior should be noted carefully and shared with your veterinarian. It could be anything, from dental-related pain to stomach upset, sore limbs, muscle aches or something much more serious.

This weekend is Thanksgiving. Pets are part of our family and we are enormously grateful for the love and vibrancy they bring into our lives. How appropriate that, in the days leading up to the celebration of bounty, we remember the health and wellness of the animals in our world!