In my many years in the field of veterinary medicine, I have seen a tremendous number of dogs and cats presented for medical care. As one could imagine, the cases range from the simple and benign to the serious and life threatening. Throughout all of this, I’ve realized that certain problems seem to repeat themselves over and over again, and to be truthful, most problems are preventable with a little forethought, common sense, and knowledge in the proper areas. Thus I have composed a top ten list, if you will, of some of the more usual facts and fallacies that we face on a daily basis. These are in no particular order. I truly hope that you can benefit from them and therefore allow your pet to be happier and healthier from this point forward.
1. Pets are overweight because they eat too much. It is that simple. Obesity is the number one health problem today. This problem can cause numerous conditions that can rob your pet of both quality and quantity of life, such as heart and liver disease or musculoskeletal problems. You should be able to count each of your pet’s ribs. If you can’t, skip the denial and admit the problem. Enlist your veterinarian’s help as soon as possible. Your furry friend will thank you for it.
2. If your pet runs outside, be prepared for an expensive medical emergency or worse yet, the tragic loss of your pet. You wouldn’t turn your three-year old child loose on the street; why do you expect your pet to know any better? Automobiles, stray animals, poisons, and wild animals are just a few of the many ways your friend’s life could be cut short. Use common sense and keep your pet in the house, on a chain, or in a fenced yard.
3. If your pet has foul breath, it is probably from dental disease. Animals don’t brush and floss like humans, so infections can get started easily. Infections of the teeth can lead to heart, kidney, or even liver disease, along with the pain from chewing. If you note an odor or problems, please see your veterinarian.
4. All puppies and kittens should be started on their routine vaccinations no later than nine weeks of age, no matter what your friends and neighbors may have told you. Rabies vaccines can be given at 16 weeks, not 6 months as rumored. Follow the advice of your veterinarian to assure that your pet has a healthy and sufficient immune response.
5. Spaying and neutering your pet will prolong its life. All males not intended for breeding should be neutered at 5 to 8 months of age. All females not intended for breeding should be spayed at 5 to 8 months s, before her first heat cycle. The benefits ar2 indisputable and include the prevention of infections and numerous forms of cancer, as well as the obvious birth control effects. In addition, spaying and neutering do not make your pet fat and females do not need to have a litter to “calm them down.”
6. Just because you don’t see worms in your pet’s stool does not mean that there are no worms. Two of the most dangerous parasites, hookworms and whipworms, can only be detected in the egg stage under a microscope. Ideally your pet should be tested for intestinal parasites twice yearly. This is especially important if your pet is outside.
7. Most of your pet’s scratching is due to fleas and irritation from fleabites. We certainly see a lot of pets that have allergies to certain foods, plants, and molds, but the overwhelming winner when it comes to skin problems is the flea. The compound that makes fleas such a nuisance is actually the saliva they inject under the skin when they partake of a blood meal. Many folks are in disbelief when we tell them their pet has a flea allergy. As many as 70%of dogs and 40% of cats have this affliction. Consult your veterinarian as to how you can best deal with this common but controllable problem.
8. Dog food is for dogs, cat food is for cats and people food for people. We have seen cases every single day of gastrointestinal disturbances caused by the ingestion of food not normally found in the animal’s diet. The consequences range from simple diarrhea and vomiting to life threatening pancreatitis. Please use common sense and make table food a no-no. If your pet is a beggar, make him leave the room when you are eating. If your pet is a scavenger, make sure all trash cans are secure and the lids are locked.
9. If your pet develops diarrhea and/or vomiting for whatever reason, but is still playful and active, the first thing you want to do as a pet owner is take away the food and water. This should be done for at least 12 hours, and for vomiting, 24 hours. Ice cubes can be given to be licked on in lieu of water. The last thing a vomiting animal needs is a belly full of water; it will come back up and worsen the animal’s dehydration. After you have removed the food and water, please contact your veterinarian for further assistance.
10. When you have any questions about pet care or pet care products,contact your veterinarian. Don’t depend on the advice of friends, the pet store attendant, or the Internet.