Most of us have read the articles about care for Fido during and leading up to the Duck and Pheasant opener. There is a copious amount of information on how to get Fido ready to hunt. However, once the seasons are over, Fido goes back to guarding the couch for another year! We have all been there, more than any of us would like to admit. However this is the perfect time to make sure our four legged hunting companion is ready for next season.
I recommend a trip to the vet, for a healthy pet check up. This is the perfect time to access his health, decide what did and didn’t work last year. We instinctively do this for our hunting equipment; don’t leave Rover out of this very important step.
During this visit your four legged partner should have a Complete Physical Exam, a comprehensive organ function panel, complete blood count, urinalysis and testing for heartworm and the common tick borne diseases. Your vet will probably use a series of tests that are done at the clinic. These tests are very comprehensive, and if problems arise now is the time to correct them. Hunting season is right around the corner!
It is also a perfect time to have his teeth cleaned, and inspected for damage. Most Veterinary clinics offer February specials on dental cleaning as February is pet dental health month.
Since dental cleanings usually require anesthesia, it is a good time to have any small skin tags removed, toe nails trimmed back to the correct length, and anything else the Dr. recommends. I don’t however recommend a dental cleaning in conjunction with any major surgery, as bacteria from the teeth cleaning can get introduced to the blood stream and set up an infection at other surgery locations.
The off season is also a great time to adjust Fido’s weight. We routinely give recommendations on quantity of food to feed her, in fact I usually send home a exact sized measuring cup for the specific caloric needs of my patients.
Dog foods vary greatly in the quality and calorie level, so speak to Fido’s Vet about the best food and correct amount to feed her. Some dog foods have as much as 500 calories per cup, whereas others may have as few as 200. It is important to correctly assess this! All dog food companies sell dog food, so their goal is to sell you as much dog food as Fido will eat! Also as dogs age they require less overall calories to maintain the same weight as years earlier.
Dr. Jason Heezen is owner of Safe Haven Small Animal Hospital In Mitchell, South Dakota. He is an avid sportsman and well as a Veterinarian.
Dr. Heezen has been practicing for 20 years and has advanced training in specific orthopedic procedures.
He can be reached at 605-996-4798.