Proper Pet Health: A Vet Tech’s Guide | Broadview University

Proper Pet Health: A Vet Tech’s Guide

Dog holding a carrot in it's mouth

A career in veterinary technology is your opportunity to help animals who are sick or injured and to educate owners about pet health. Each species of animal is different, but they all have specific needs. One of the responsibilities of being a pet parent is to keep a pet healthy. When you’re training to become a vet tech, you’ll learn about different animal species and educating pet parents about how to keep their pets healthy.

How to Keep Pets Healthy?

Our pets provide us with unconditional love and companionship. It’s our responsibility to take all the steps necessary to keep them healthy and happy. All species of animals have specific nutritional requirements. All pets need certain vitamins and minerals in their diet for good health. Pet parents should follow the recommended portion sizes and feed high-quality foods.

Pets need exercise for mental stimulation and to keep them physically fit. The activity level of a pet can vary between breeds. Pet owners can determine how much exercise their pet requires during playtime.

Veterinary care is essential for all pets. Yearly exams with the vet can keep a pet healthy and alert the owner to any possible problems. As a pet starts to age, veterinary exams should be done twice a year. Here are some general tips that you can educate pet owners about to keep pets healthy:

Listen to The Pet

Have the owner pay attention to signals from their pet, and they will learn what makes them happy. A dog may love a belly rub or a romp in the yard. Cats often like to sit quietly with their owners. Even birds and small, pocket pets have preferences.

Pet Supplements

There are hundreds of supplements for pets on the market. However, a lot of studies haven’t gone into the long-term effects of some of these products. Some products are helpful for pets with digestive problems or stiff, achy joints as they age. However, it’s always a good idea to discuss any supplement with the pet owner before they feed them to their pets.

Minimize Human Food

An owner should limit the amount and type of human foods that they offer to their pets. Some foods for humans are safe for dogs and cats, but some are toxic. Chocolate, artificial sweetener, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, and garlic are especially dangerous.

Proper Training

Some pets, especially many that are adopted from shelters, can be fearful, have aggression issues if they’ve been abused, or suffer from separation anxiety. If a pet has any of these issues, you may recommend a trainer or animal behavior specialist to curb the negative behavior.

Dog Health

All dogs should be fed a healthy diet based on their size, breed, and nutritional requirements. If a dog has a health issue like diabetes or digestive problems, you may recommend a prescription or limited ingredient diet. It’s essential to keep a dog at a weight that’s healthy.

Dog breeds that are high-energy love forms of exercise like jogging with their owners, hiking, swimming, skating, or agility courses. Small dog breeds often enjoy playing with toys and going on walks with their owners.

A dog should be examined once each year for vaccinations, blood work, and any diagnostic tests that are recommended. Educate pet owners about the most effective treatments against ticks, fleas, and heartworm disease to help keep the pet healthy.

Cat Health

Cats can sleep as long as 20 hours each day. When they’re awake, it’s essential for them to have exercise and playtime. Cats enjoy playing with toys and climbing cat trees. When feeding a cat, it’s a good idea for the owner to put out the amount of food the cat will consume for that meal. Let the owner know that cats have a tendency to overeat and get sick from too much food.

Veterinarians recommend a combination or wet dry food for cats, depending on their needs. For example, a vet may recommend dry food to assist with better dental hygeine. If an owner feeds a cat dry food, suggest that they use a flat dish or saucer and spread the food out. The cat isn’t as likely to gobble down too much food at one time. If a cat is being transitioned from dry to wet food, the owner should do it gradually to prevent any digestive upsets.

Although some cats will walk on a leash, most prefer indoor playtime with their owners. Most cats enjoy playing with interactive toys that remind them of prey. Toys with feathers that dangle, or toy mice are good choices. The owner’s cat will get exercise playing with the toys and be mentally stimulated. Cats should have a yearly examination, get the necessary vaccines and diagnostics that are recommended by the vet. Cats should also be check for FIV and FeLV.

Bird Health

Pet birds can be kept happy and healthy with a nutritious diet. Aviary veterinarians recommend against feeding pet birds a diet of only birdseed since it can be detrimental to a bird’s health. A seed-only diet can cause nutritional deficiencies and liver disease.

Organic or natural birdseed mixes are the healthiest for pet birds. Plant-based vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts are the most nutritious options for pet birds. Some plants, fruits, and grains shouldn’t be fed to pet birds. The most toxic food is avocado. Have bird owners consult with you to discuss the healthiest diet for their pet.

Birds must be protected from extreme heat and cold. Warming perches, ceramic heaters kept far enough away from the cage to prevent overheating, or a warm blanket will keep a bird warm in the winter. For summer, plenty of cool, fresh water and a misting fan works well.

Let the owner know that a bird’s enclosure must be large enough to accommodate perches, toys, food, and water bowls. A cage that’s twice the size that’s recommended is excellent since it allows a bird the freedom to fly from one perch to another.

Pocket Pet Health

Pocket pets have gained popularity with pet owners in recent years. Many people are living in smaller spaces or move frequently, so small pets are ideal as housemates. Chinchillas, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, ferrets, hedgehogs, and sugar gliders are among the most popular pocket pets. They may be small but come with a lot of responsibility.

Wellness checkups and good health aren’t only a necessity for cats and dogs. Pocket pets need vaccinations and dental exams to stay healthy. Disease in these little pets can be prevented through good hygiene and visits to the vet. Pocket pets can thrive with a nutritious diet. Rabbits can be healthy with a diet of crunchy veggies, Timothy Hay, and high-quality pellets.

Why Is Pet Hygiene Important?

Good pet health is essential for dogs, cats, birds, and pocket pets. When pets share our homes, good health is critical for pets and humans. Food and water bowls should be washed each day thoroughly. Cat litter boxes should be emptied one or more times daily, especially if the owner has multiple cats.

An owner should clean a cat’s litter box one or more times a day and change it for a new one when necessary, to prevents odor and keep pets healthy. An owner should keep a bird’s habitat, food and water bowls, and bottoms of cages cleaned each day to be sanitary and prevent disease.

What Are Some Ways to Ensure Good Pet Hygiene?

There are many great ways to ensure that a pet is healthy, and that the owner is keeping up with their pet’s hygiene. Some of the ways include:

Annual Exams

An annual exam is necessary for all pets to ensure they’re healthy and to address any health or behavior issues. It’s easier for a vet to treat any medical problems in the early stage and often has a more positive outcome.

Clean Teeth

Clean teeth can prevent disease and discomfort for a pet. Regular dental cleaning should be part of the annual exam. You can also educate a pet owner on proper teeth cleaning techniques and animal friendly toothpastes.

Brushing Pet’s Hair

Brushing a pet’s hair can prevent mats in the fur and helps to distribute natural oils throughout a pet’s skin. Brushing is an excellent way for an owner to check for any skin irritations that should be treated by the vet.

Regular Baths

Scheduled baths help to keep a pet’s skin and coat healthy and get rid of dead skin cells and dirt in the coat. Pets with skin irritations or dermatitis should be bathed more frequently with a medicated shampoo.

Proper Grooming

Grooming makes a pet look and feel better and keeps their coat clean and neat. This practice can also redistribute the natural oils in the pet’s coat to keep it shiny. Grooming removes the dead hair and skin from the pet’s coat and improves their circulation of blood.

Clean & Sanitized

Promoting excellent pet hygiene means keeping the pet’s bathroom areas clean. A cat owner should clean the litter box out thoroughly whenever the cat has used it. Cats don’t like dirty litter, and owners don’t like the odor. They should use high-quality cat litter. Dog owners should clean their yard up with a poop scoop. If the owner walks their dog or goes to the dog park, they should take disposable bags and a scoop to clean up after their dog.

Final Thoughts

Part of your job as a vet tech is to educate pet owners about how to keep their pet’s happy and healthy. A healthy pet will make the owner a loyal customer. Learn everything you need to know to properly educate pet owners about health and hygiene and you will be a successful vet tech.

Veterinary Technician Program

Want to help other people take care of their pets? Interested in learning about becoming a vet tech? With an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology, you’ll gain the knowledge, qualities and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.