Preventive Care Guidelines for Pet Owners
Wellness & Preventive Care Tips That Will Help Keep Your Pet Healthy
As a veterinary emergency, critical care, and specialty center, North Central Veterinary Emergency Center cares about your pet’s wellbeing. While it’s true that we specialize in caring for sick and injured pets, our doctors and staff are huge advocates of preventive pet care to help you and your pet avoid needing our services altogether. Here are some important preventive pet care tips to help optimize your pet’s health for years to come:
- Puppy and kitten wellness care
- Spaying or neutering
- Dental care
- Controlling fleas and ticks
- Heartworm disease prevention
We also encourage you to review our pet safety tips aimed at preventing veterinary emergencies and keeping you properly prepared in the case that something does go wrong.
Puppy & Kitten Wellness Care
Scheduling routine health exams and vaccinations for your new puppy or kitten should be your first priority to ensure your new pet is equipped to face a world full of potential health problems. Seek the professional assistance of your local primary veterinarian for customized care.
Your new puppy or kitten should be examined by a veterinarian to ensure that it has no major health problems and that it is safe to start preventive care. Your new pet’s health care plan should include a series of vaccinations customized to his or her risk of infection based on lifestyle, region of residence, age, and breed. Vaccinations are usually given in three- to four-week intervals intervals, which can begin as early as 6 weeks of age depending on the protocol your primary veterinarian follows. Puppies and kittens should be checked for intestinal parasites (usually tested with two stool samples that are three weeks apart), fleas, and begin tick and heartworm preventatives at this time.
Spaying or Neutering Your Pet
Spaying your female dog or cat helps prevent and decrease the incidence of:
- Cancers of the reproductive tract, as well as breast cancer
- Potentially life-threatening infections of the uterus
- Unwanted litters and pet over-population
- Accidental breeding and complications with birthing
Neutering your male dog or cat will prevent and reduce the incidence of:
- Testicular cancer
- Prostate problems
- Behavioral problems
- Inappropriate urination (dogs) and spraying cats (cats)
The decision to spay or neuter your puppy or kitten is one of the best decisions you can make as an owner. Your veterinarian can work with you to discuss the benefits and the best time to schedule the procedure.
Proper Dental Care for Your Pet
Remember that dogs and cats need dental care! Prevention is the key to helping pets maintain good oral health. Without it, your dog or cat may develop pet periodontal disease, which can lead to serious infection and illness. The American Veterinary Dental Society recommends that pet owners follow two important steps:
- Visit your veterinarian – Visiting your veterinarian regularly is the key to ensuring the health of your pet’s teeth. Your primary care veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination of your pet’s body as part of the yearly or biannual wellness evaluation, monitor the progress of your home dental care routine much the same way a dentist monitors your own teeth, and provide guidance on how to minimize the risk of dental disease in your pet.
- Start a dental care routine at home – Removing plaque regularly from your pet’s teeth should be a part of his or her home dental care routine. Ask your veterinarian about the procedure for brushing your pet’s teeth properly and remember to only use products approved for pets (human toothpaste can be poisonous to animals). Dog owners also may feed specially formulated dietary foods that help reduce the accumulation of plaque and tartar from teeth when the pet eats.
Once a pet’s teeth display the warning signs (bad breath, a yellow brown crust of tartar around the gum line, pain or bleeding when the pet eats or when you touch the gums), gum disease may already be present and in need of veterinary attention. Dental disease can lead to infection and other health problems and should therefore be addressed for the wellbeing of your pet. For a professional dental checkup, call your veterinarian today!
Pet Skin Conditions
The skin and coat of cats and dogs serve to protect the body, but are also susceptible to harmful fleas and ticks. These and other pests can present serious health problems for both pets and the people who love them, spreading serious or even deadly disease. Preventive care can benefit your entire family.
Fleas cause great irritation to infected pets and spread disease. Many cats and dogs are sensitive to flea bites and may have an allergic skin reaction to even a small number of fleas. This condition is referred to as fleabite allergic dermatitis. Symptoms include intense itching and scratching of the skin and may continue for extended periods of time even after fleas have been removed. Additionally, fleas can cause intestinal tapeworm infestation.
We recommend that you always confer with your veterinarian before using any flea prevention or control products. Many that can safely be used on dogs are poisonous to cats and other exotic animals. Your veterinarian will help guide you to the best products based on the type of pet you own, its lifestyle, and other circumstances.
As with fleas, ticks can also spread disease to you and your pet. Once a tick is brought into the home by a pet, it often seeks another host such as you or another family member. Ticks can spread serious illness like Ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Both you and your pet are susceptible to these tickborne illnesses. Your veterinarian can provide you with proper preventive medications and directions to help prevent these external parasites from infecting your dog or cat with serious disease and from becoming a danger to you or your family.
Heartworm Disease Prevention
Just one bite from an infected mosquito can infect your cat or dog with heartworm disease. This disease is costly to treat and can be deadly if untreated. Fortunately, heartworm prevention costs only a few dollars a month and should be given to cats and dogs year round.
Keep your pets safe by giving them prevention medication prescribed by your veterinarian.