Your vet can give you advice on how to look after your pet, but as a pet owner the responsibility is with you to make sure your pets are fit and healthy. A long and happy life differs from pet to pet: a year is a lengthy time for dogs and cats, and even more so for guinea pigs and rabbits!

If you can stay on top of their health, there’s a bonus too: preventative healthcare will help keep your vet bills down. If your vet can catch a potential health problem early, it’ll cost a lot less than if it’s advanced. Here are nine steps you can take to look after your pet’s health.

1. Visit the vet regularly

Ideally, your pet should see a vet twice a year for a health check. This becomes even more important if you have a senior pet, so increase visits, as age-related issues can occur.

2. Desex your pet

Desexing your pet can prevent diseases, such as uterine infections and prostate problems. If you don’t plan to breed, get your pets neutered or spayedyou’re your pet has bred before and you would like this to be their last, you should also get your pet desexed. Desexing your pet will statistically increase their life span.

3. Vaccinate your pet

Vaccinations protect your cats from cat flu and FIV, and dogs from canine hepatitis, canine cough and distemper. Even you rabbit needs a vaccination against calcivirus.

4. Treat parasites and fleas

Cats and dogs need intestinal worming treatments, tick and flea control, and depending on where you live, worming medication. You should also protect rabbits and guinea pigs from getting mites from their bedding.

5. Feed your pet a healthy diet

Your pet’s diet will change as they age from puppy or kitten to senior, so a good-quality pet-food diet needs to be tailored to match their age and breed. Remember, though most cats love milk, many are actually lactose intolerant.

6. Exercise your pet

Regular exercise means your pet will be fit and not obese. Your pet will also have healthy circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems. Exercise is also great for your pet’s mental health!

7. Groom your pet

Grooming can help get rid of seeds, pollen and dust that cause skin irritation. Plus, when you groom it’s a great time to check for fleas, ticks, lumps and bumps or sore spots, and get them treated early.

8. Clean your pet’s teeth

Give your pet chew toys, dental kibble and brush their teeth regularly. Unhealthy teeth not only cause your pet tooth pain, the bacteria can lead to more serious diseases in their heart and kidneys.

9. Trim your pet’s nails

Your pet’s nails will require trimming every now and then, even if you walk your dog on concrete or your cat scratches their post a lot. This requires a vet visit unless you’re confident using a nail trimmer.