Kick Off the New Year in Good Health

Resolution time is here once again. Just as you may be setting health-related goals for yourself, consider doing the same for your pets! What can you do to start being proactive about Fluffy’s or Fido’s health today?

Diet Time?

A healthy weight is as important to pets as it is to people. Obesity predisposes animals to arthritis and can cause cats to develop diabetes among other problems. If you think your pet is overweight, contact your veterinarian to discuss a safe, effective diet and exercise plan as well as a healthy target weight.

Pet Oral Health

An often overlooked area in preventive health care for pets is dental care. Consider brushing your pet’s teeth three times a week. Are you likely to be defeated by your pet’s cunning toothbrush avoidance tactics? If so, integrate appropriate dental care treats and chews into your pet’s diet to promote good dental health.

Microchip Musts

Although microchips are a great way to reunite you with a lost pet, they must be maintained properly to be effective. When your pet is found and his or her microchip is scanned, the microchip company will contact you ... but if your contact information is out of date, the microchip is useless! Check with your microchip company to make sure your contact information is current.

Disaster Preparedness

Just as you might put together a disaster preparedness or emergency kit for your family, do the same for your pet. Make sure you have fresh water and pet food on hand in the event of an emergency. It’s also a good idea to have some pet first aid items available in case your pet sustains an injury.

Stay Active

January is Walk Your Pet Month, but you may be less inclined to spend time outdoors depending on the prevailing weather conditions. Regardless, walks are very important because they provide enrichment for dogs, and the exercise is good for maintaining their weight and joint health. Keep older pets mobile by taking shorter walks more frequently – mild to moderate low-impact activity is beneficial for arthritic joints.

These are some useful tips to help guide you and your pets to your healthiest year yet. Regardless of what you do, being proactive with your pet’s health is key! From all of us at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital, we wish you and your pets good health.  


Article written by Andrew Rocco, DVM

Located in Snohomish, Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital offers comprehensive and 24/7 emergency care: 360.568.3113

Five New Year’s Resolutions for Your Horse

(From a Veterinarian’s Point of View)

Each year, you make a New Year’s resolution for yourself, but what about what you could be doing for your horse? Your trainer wants you to work on half passes, sliding stops, higher jumps or whatever your discipline may be ... but what does your veterinarian want you to focus on?

  1. Weight: Maintaining your horse’s weight, whether you have an easy-keeper or thin horse, should be high on this year’s priority list. Overweight horses are predisposed to conditions such as equine metabolic syndrome and laminitis. Laminitis can be very difficult to manage and can be career-ending and potentially even life-threatening. For thin horses, the root cause of the problem can be even trickier to diagnose. Is it nutritional, dental or due to another serious disease such as pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (equine Cushing’s) or cancer?
  2. Dental care: On average, it is recommended that you have your horse’s mouth examined and floated once yearly. Skipping years of oral balancing, performed during the dental float, can potentially lead to serious misalignments such as creating jaw-locking steps, painful hooks and significant periodontal disease.
  3. Preventive care: The importance of vaccines cannot be stressed enough. Did you know that the best time of year to vaccinate for Eastern/Western encephalitis and West Nile is in the spring and early summer? These neurologic diseases are carried by mosquitoes, so it is best to boost your horse’s immunity to these prior to bug season. Another component of preventive care is parasite control. A vast majority of equine parasites are actually carried by a small percentage of horses. Fecal floats quantify how much an individual horse is affected by parasites and have completely changed deworming protocols. Now, deworming is tailored to the individual horse to prevent parasite resistance through unnecessary deworming.
  4. Senior care: Horses are frequently living longer, and our retirees start to require more medical care as they age. Common issues that need to be addressed include deteriorating ligaments and arthritis pain, loose teeth, weight/dietary management, and diseases such as Cushing’s and equine metabolic syndrome.
  5. Regular exercise: Busy schedules create horses that are “weekend warriors” – horses that are ridden hard on the weekends and do minimal work during the week. This makes it hard for horses to build up cardiovascular and muscle strength, and can also predispose them to injury in joints, ligaments and muscles. Could you get out to the barn for a longeing session in the middle of the week?

This year, make it your New Year’s resolution to improve your horse’s health. Buckle down on getting your fat horse trimmed down or your thin horse beefed up. Make it your mission to address dental and preventive care. Start a conversation with your veterinarian on how you can help your older horse’s arthritis or if you need to begin testing for diseases such as Cushing’s. Go the extra mile and put another workout in on your horse. Your equine friend will be sure to thank you later!


Article written by Liana Wiegel, DVM

Located in Snohomish, Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital offers equine ambulatory care, referral hospital services and 24/7 emergency. Call 360.568.3111 to schedule a consultation with one of our equine practitioners.