Preventative Pet Care Is The Key To Avoid Disease
Wouldn’t want it to be my baby! I wouldn’t like a lot of things to affect my fur babies – and where there is zoonotic risk of disease, I wouldn’t want something to make my children ill either.
But as a veterinarian, we see so many things that could have been either easily prevented or the course of disease would have been so much less with earlier intervention. As we kick off a new year, think about how you want to protect your fur babies and human babies.
Preventive care is the biggest key to disease prevention and early disease discovery. Even with the greater availability of veterinary care at all price points, about 25 percent of dog and cat owners do not take their pets to the vet. Or, for many in this group, there is not veterinary care after the puppy/kitten boosters until we have a sick senior pet – a time when choices may be limited by cost of care and/or poor prognosis.
What can be prevented? Parvovirus, for one! We saw several cases of parvo at our hospital in 2015 and shelters and low cost veterinary care providers saw many, many more. The outcome was variable, but for about 50 percent of those dogs ill with parvovirus, medical help came too late in the course of disease and owners elected for humane euthanasia. If those dogs had received a proper series of preventive vaccinations for Distemper-Hepatitis-Parainfluenza-Parvo (DHPP), those pets would have never gotten sick.
Dental disease is not absolutely preventable, but can have a huge impact on health and comfort for cats and dogs.
In a perfect world, they would be able to brush their own teeth two times or more daily or have owners who would do the same. But, be honest. Are you going to brush your dog’s or cat’s teeth every day? Nope! And, then layer on that our pets age physiologically faster than we humans and you’ve got the starting point for dental disease. Getting your pet’s teeth assessed and cleaned annually is like you getting your teeth cleaned every three to four years – would you do that to yourself or your human child?
Hidden disease, like very serious heart disease or early chronic kidney disease, can show no clinical signs or changes that you would appreciate in your pet. But these issues are discoverable and then better managed when identified early.
Every senior pet – dogs from age seven and cats from age 10 – should be seen twice yearly and have screening blood work at least annually. Aside from sometimes being able to hear a new heart murmur, did you know that there is a good screening blood test for cardiac muscle changes in cats?
This article could go on for many more pages covering intestinal parasites and more, but you’d be sleeping from overload. Make sure to ask your veterinarian at every visit how else you can best take care of your fur babies, as you are doing everything to protect the human babies in the home as well.
Dr. Margot can be reached at parkhillvet.com