Preventative care can save a pet’s life

Published 11:19 am Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What if you could save your dogs or cat’s life simply by taking them to their veterinarian? That is exactly what you do whenever your pet receives its vaccinations.

It has taken nearly 20 years to impress upon pet owners the need for routine veterinary care and the devastating consequences of complacency when it comes to caring for their pets. The importance of veterinary care for very young pets has also become more accepted among the general public.

Pet owners have learned puppies and kittens should start preventative care including vaccinations, deworming and external parasite control beginning at 6 weeks of age. It has become widely known dogs and cats need yearly vaccinations to help prevent illness throughout their life. It has taken many years for the veterinary profession to establish these protocols as standard medical care for pets.

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External parasites such as fleas and ticks are obviously on the minds of pet owners because the nasty little critters are visible. It causes pets and pet owners to be uncomfortable and therefore more likely to be proactive about getting rid of them. The thought of even the possibility of their pet having these parasites allows pet owners to actively fight them with preventative care.

However, pet owners aren’t always proactive with regards to other potentially preventative illnesses. The types of illnesses that are preventable with vaccinations are generally not recognized until clinical symptoms occur. In general, you cannot see prevention. If the preventative care is successful, then the illness does not occur. It is extremely important to trust your veterinarian to give you sound advice about the proper preventative care for your pet.

One example of proactive preventative pet care is taking good care of your pet’s teeth. Dental disease is responsible for many other diseases. The bacteria embedded in the tartar on your pet’s teeth can actually enter the blood stream leading to infection of the kidneys, liver and heart.

Another example of proactive preventative care is restraining from feeding your pet human foods. Some pets may be prone to gastrointestinal diseases or pancreatitis if fed certain human foods, especially fatty foods. If you never feed your pet human food, you may be preventing serious disease for your pet. Personally, I would rather err on the side of caution. The old saying is “Better safe than sorry!”

Being proactive also means performing diagnostic tests prior to clinical symptoms. You could have blood tests performed on your pet even though they aren’t acting sick. It is very common for blood tests to reveal illness long before any signs of disease occur. Certainly, early detection of diseases can substantially increase how well a pet responds to treatment.

Routine blood tests are performed by human doctors very frequently as part of their normal examination process. It is understandable many illnesses can’t be detected by a simple physical exam. This holds true for pets as well. It makes perfect sense to be proactive by performing certain blood tests on pets during their normal annual physical examination.

It never hurts to perform diagnostic tests and in many cases it can make all the difference in the world to detect a disease in its earliest stages. Early detection leads to early treatment which allows for much greater success.

Don’t wait for your pet to become sick. Save your pet’s life with preventative care so that your pet can live a long, healthy and happy life.

Jeff Castle is a Clark County veterinarian.