Preventative Care For Pets Val Cairney
Hi everyone, and thanks for joining me on this episode of Val Talk’s Pets. Last episode I talked about the vet crisis shortage in Canada. Getting into the vet right now has become challenging with reduced hours in many clinics and the increase of clients. For this reason it has become even more important for pet parents to become proactive with preventative care with our pets. I’m going to explore what preventive care entails for our pets and hopefully we can avoid some unwanted visits.
Let’s begin by assuming that your pet has been to a vet within a reasonable time and has had an examination to identify any concerning areas or to be given a good bill of health. Going forward one of the things on the list of preventive care is, know your pet.
This is when we need to observe any behavioural changes, and physical changes. For example, is your pet drinking a lot more water than usual? Is your pet not drinking water like normal? Has your pet’s appetite changed? One thing to observe is whether your pet is experiencing any intolerances to their food or their treats. There are ways to deal with food intolerances and I have episodes that can help with some things you can do. Following from the food would be elimination. If you can observe your pet doing its business, something to observe is whether your pet is peeing and pooping without any issue. With dogs observe whether there is any straining or loose stool happening. With cats, we can see if there is a problem when we scoop the litter, looking for excessive peeing or blood in either the urine or stool.
The next thing to observe is any bumps, lumps or growths. As we pet and cuddle our pets we can observe whether a lump is coming up or some kind of growth. Yes, this would mean going to the vet and we are trying to avoid unwanted visits, but if we act promptly on something like this, we could avoid a serious scenario later on. And while we are petting and cuddling we can look for any skin issues or hair loss. Often skin issues and hair loss are an indicator of something else. vcacanada.com points out that “hair loss may indicate systemic disease or hormonal imbalances.” These indicators again if we are quick, may be nipped in the bud before they become a big issue. Another thing to observe would be any limping or trouble getting up. An injury could have occurred but limping or trouble getting up could also mean it is time for arthritis support. Along with this, ageing signs like hard of hearing or vision issues, can also mean looking into some support for a senior pet.
All of these observations can have us act quickly with our pets to avoid something getting out of hand and requiring some major vet care which we know can be very expensive and in some cases life-threatening. Knowing what our pets’ base line is and what their behaviour and physical nature is, can allow us to work preventively and proactively.
Many veterinarians believe that keeping up with vaccinations and heartworm is a very important part of our pet’s health. In today’s world we are not just dealing with the regular vaccines like distemper or rabies but also kennel cough and the rise of leptospirosis. There has also been a rise of canine influenza, Lyme disease and hepatitis. It’s a good idea to have a conversation with your vet about what vaccines are the best for your pet based on environment and exposure.
The next thing in our preventive toolbox is dental care. Now I have done an episode specifically on dental care for pets and I have a great interview with owner and founder Jill Thompson of Kissable K9 Care. It’s so strange how we often don’t think about maintaining proper oral hygiene with our pets until it is too late. Usually we get to the point where our pet’s breath is so bad that we finally look to deal with it. It is important to start with oral care right away with puppies and kittens and maintain care with our adult pets. We all know that bad teeth and gums affect overall health, so being preventive with our pet’s health means taking care of those teeth. Definitely have a listen to my episodes on oral care to pick up some tips.
Next on our list is weight care. Pet’s that are overweight can be susceptible to all kinds of ailments. We know that excess weight can tax the cardiovascular system plus the renal system. An overweight pet is at risk for health issues that will create vet visits and contribute to a shortened lifespan. Speaking to an animal care expert at your pet specialty store about weight control food options and increased exercise with less treats, should go a long way to getting those few pounds off.
Spaying and neutering is also a very important part of a pet’s health. As vcacanada.com states, “Spaying and neutering can have numerous health or behaviour benefits. Having this surgery can prevent infections and some types of cancers.” Access my episode on spaying and neutering where I dig deep into what this all entails, benefits and decisions. Plus, neutered males, especially cats tend not to get into fights or roam. Non-neutered males can also be more aggressive or unpredictable. Training can also be challenging as their brain is basically hardwired to be on the look-out for females, all the time. Male cats that are not neutered like to roam and often get into fights. A cat that has had a scrap with another cat will often need to go to the vet for antibiotics and first aid. And I can tell you, it takes nothing for an abscess to form when a cat has been bitten or had a claw dug into their skin from another cat. So, seriously, spaying and neutering really is a huge benefit.
Next topic is parasite prevention. Fleas, ticks, worms. And yes, I have a full episode on this as well with all the gory details. A dog or cat infested with fleas and worms is in a serious health crisis. The fleas are feeding on their blood and injecting saliva into their bloodstream. Worms are feeding off the pet as well robbing them of their nutrition assimilation and deteriorating their intestinal health. Ticks are serious. Ticks can spread Lyme disease so preventing them is the best defense and knowing how to properly remove them and deal with the site is key as well. Again, I’ve got the 411 on all of the Fleas, Ticks and Worms oh my!
Now a big one of the list for preventive care is nutrition. As you know, I find pet nutrition and supportive supplements really interesting, but the bottom line is if we feed our pets well we are contributing to their health and leading them to a longer life. We know how important it is for us to eat balanced meals and the same stands for animals. There isn’t much more to say on this topic. Nutrition leads to better health, bottom line.
And the last thing I want to put on our preventive list is knowing how to do first aid with our pets. I did an episode on what to do when you can’t get to the vet. Knowing what to do if a dog or cat bites a bee or has a little scrap or twists a paw or ingests something bad, all of these things need immediate response and knowing what to do can save you from a very costly emergency vet visit. And having said that, I always say, know where your closest emergency vet clinic is and know what their policies and protocols are, in advance. Plus, having a pet first aid kit on aid is a really smart thing to do. You can put one together yourself or purchase an already made kit. I like to have some other things in my kit, like Nature’s Aid and Witch Hazel. Plus, you can always safely give your pet Turmeric if there is some inflammation. Make sure you look up the mg. that are appropriate.
So, let’s do a little recap. Preventive care for our pet’s means knowing our pets, vaccinations, dental care, weight care, spay/neutering, parasite prevention, nutrition and first aid knowledge and having a first aid kit. Perfect! I mean we should be doing these things on a regular basis anyway, but because things are strained within the veterinary profession, we should up our game and pay more attention to these things. As Doctor Lawson president elect of the CVMA said, one of the ways to deal with clinics closing earlier or reducing days open or the wait time to get an appointment is, to be more preventive with our pet’s health care.
We can do this, we know we can. And hopefully the episodes on most of these topics that I have done will give some help towards being more comfortable taking a proactive stance with our pet’s health. And of course asking your vet for advice certainly can’t go remiss and doing your own research as well, because as I say, knowing is caring.
Hi everyone, and welcome to Val Talk’s Pets, the forum for pet parents and enthusiasts alike. So, I have been working in the pet industry now for almost 10 years and, on a daily basis, I handle a lot of issues and questions arising from pet parents. I am not a veterinarian but I do have certifications in Canine, Feline, Small Animal, Fish and Herptile and Avian Health and Nutrition from the University of California, Davis Extension, the Vet College.
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