The status of pets has continued to rise over the past years. More and more of them are now regarded as part of a family. As a result, the veterinary care they could receive has improved tremendously. There is also more misinformation available online that can take well-intentioned pet owners into an internet rabbit hole. At Aina Haina Veterinary Clinic, we strive to partner up with each client to consult best ways to keep dogs and cats happy and healthy based on each family’s needs.

Continue reading to learn general guidelines and resources every pet owner will benefit from, and key 5 things you can start today to improve their health and happiness. If you would like one of our veterinarians to make specific recommendations for your furry family member, make an appointment online or call us at (808)-453-5000 today.

1. Feed them a high-quality, nutritionally balanced diet

Just like us, our pets’ health is greatly impacted by what they eat. Choosing high-quality, balanced pet food ensures that they receive the necessary nutrients best suited for their life stages. One of the most important things you can start today is to make sure the current food you’re feeding has an appropriate “Nutritional Adequacy Statement/AAFCO Statement” from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

AAFCO is a third party entity that annually publishes nutritional profiles dogs and cats need based on their life stages (growing kitten/puppy, adult, pregnant, etc). All pet food sold across state lines must print these statements, and they will look something like this:

  • “Animal feeding test using AAFCO procedures substantiate that X food provides complete and balanced nutrition…” or
  • “X food is formulated to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles.”

One big red flag is when your food does not state that it is complete and balanced and will instead state “this product is intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only”. This means your food is actually intended as a treat and does NOT have all the essential nutrients your furry family needs!

If you would like to take a deeper dive into the world of pet nutrition, Pet Foodology is a great resource to get started that contains numerous articles written by board-certified veterinary nutritionists at Tufts University. The topics they cover have a wide range from grain free and raw to home-cooked diets.

Our veterinarians at Aina Haina Veterinary Clinic can also answer any specific questions you may have about your pets’ diet and may recommend specific food based on their medical needs.

2. Know their ideal weight and how to get there

Obesity is a common issue in both dogs and cats, and can lead to various health problems ranging from osteoarthritis, diabetes, and so on. Obviously all of these lead to overall poor quality of life for your furry family member. The incredible but sad truth about obesity in pets is that oftentimes their weight is under OUR control – how much food and treats we give everyday plays a major role.

First thing you can do is to see if your pet is overweight. You can either have a veterinarian tell you during their regular check up, or you can do it at home using this helpful chart.

Once you know where your pet is at, you can make a realistic goal by decreasing the daily caloric intake gradually. General recommendation is to decrease the food intake by 15-20% every few months until the ideal weight is reached.

Adequate exercise is crucial for healthy weight loss, but by far controlling caloric intake is more effective to achieve the optimal weight.

On the other hand, if your pet is drastically losing weight WITHOUT you actually making any change, that may be a sign of serious diseases and your veterinarian must be consulted immediately.

3. Elevate their dental care at home

Oral health is often overlooked but plays a vital role in your pet’s overall well-being. Daily toothbrushing using appropriate pet toothpaste is the most important and effective thing you can start today. And yes, teeth brushing is equally important in cats too!

If you have pets that do not like their mouth touched, or you already brush their teeth and would like to improve their oral health even more, you could try following products in the order of effectiveness/importance:

  • Dental diet
  • Dental chews (watch the calories though!)
  • Food/water additives
  • Dental-friendly toys (NOT bones/antlers as they can break a tooth!)

A great resource for you here is provided by Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). It is a group of veterinary dentists who have evaluated numerous products that claim to prevent or reduce periodontal disease in dogs and cats. You can bet the products with a VOHC seal on them do what they claim to do. You can find the full list of products here.

Additionally, consider scheduling a professional dental cleaning under general anesthesia with your veterinarian to maintain good oral hygiene. You can learn more about periodontal disease and what Aina Haina Veterinary Clinic offers you and your furry family member here.

4. Protect them from harmful parasites

Protecting your pets from parasites like heartworm, intestinal worms, ticks and fleas is crucial. Heartworm can literally kill a dog, and intestinal worms, ticks and fleas can carry diseases as well as be a serious detriment to the overall quality of life. Monthly preventatives, prescribed by your veterinarian, are highly effective in keeping these harmful pests at bay. These measures not only safeguard your pets but also contribute to a healthier environment for both the entire family including other humans.

Starting today, make sure your pet is current on prevention against these parasites, even if they are indoors! As you very well know, mosquitos that carry heartworm can be found inside homes all year around, especially in Hawaii.

Luckily, there are other products that are available to fit the needs of every pet. If monthly oral is not something that is easy to administer in your household, talk to your veterinarian about other, longer acting products that are equally effective.

5. Make sure they get seen by a veterinarian at least every 6 months

Regular visits to the veterinarian are as important for pets as they are for humans. Aina Haina Veterinary Clinic recommends regular check ups on all adult dogs and cats every 6 months. At these visits we can discuss everything that was mentioned above as well as specific questions you may have about your furry family member.

These visits are excellent ways to monitor your pet’s health, catch any potential issues early, and ensure they are up-to-date on vaccinations. Typical services recommended at Aina Haina Veterinary Clinic can be found in this article. After almost every visit, we send pet owners home with a visit summary that outlines what was done and the recommended next steps specific to each patient.

Make sure you have seen your veterinarian in the past 6 months for each of your pets today. If they have not been seen for more than a year, they are more than likely overdue for some of the crucial care.

Aina Haina Veterinary Clinic can help you

Prioritizing these five pillars of pet care-quality nutrition, optimal weight, dental hygiene, parasite prevention, and regular veterinary check ups-lays a strong foundation for your pet’s health and happiness.

So what’s next? Go online or call our office to make an appointment with one of our veterinarians. At Aina Haina Veterinary Clinic, we strive to work together with you as a team, so we can ensure your furry family member can lead fulfilling and vibrant lives they deserve.