Prevention – the key to a healthier and happier life!

Blink! And like that, January is done and dusted! We find it’s always the fastest month of the year! But it doesn’t mean that life slows down, nor do we slow down for our pets. There is always something that we need to be thinking about to make sure they’re happy and healthy, whether it be giving their worming or flea treatments, booking in for yearly vaccinations or check-ups, or taking other measures to make sure they are keeping well looked after.

Though it might seem like a bit of a process, doing things to prevent our pets from being exposed to illness and health conditions will allow them to live a longer, happier & healthier life. Prevention is the key, and there are lots of ways we use preventative measures to keep our fur-kids in tip top shape.

  • Worming

Though they are tiny, intestinal worms can cause huge issues for our pets. Worm infestations can cause all kinds of nasties, like diarrhoea, weight loss, bloated appearance and lethargy. Depending on the product, you can usually treat your fur-kids every 3 months. They can get worms from eating worm eggs from contaminated soil or stools, or by eating animals that may have them already.

  • Heartworm

Yes – it has the word ‘worm’ in its name, but don’t be fooled thinking it’s the same as an intestinal worm. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitos, and is a tad more serious if found in our pets. They will show signs of lethargy, persistent cough, not wanting to exercise, decreased appetite and weight loss. Though it’s not common in SA, there have been cases in the past 5 years, and is quite extensive (and expensive) to fix. The easiest way to prevent this by giving a monthly tablet, or getting a yearly injection (ask us about this for more information!).

  • Fleas

These are another tiny critter who cause chaos for our pets. Though they seem to be more common in the warmer months, these little buggers can be present all year round. And though they aren’t fatal (as such), they can cause some annoying issues like flea allergy dermatitis and anaemia. There are preventative products available in various forms like tablet or spot-on, and they can last between 1-3 months depending on which product you use. To know if your pooch or kitty has fleas – look out for the itching! Or for flea dirt (poo!) which looks like dark coloured dirt in their fur

  • Vaccinations

For those playing at home, they would know that last year we had an outbreak of Parvo virus, which is an awful, highly contagious virus which can be fatal to dogs. Imagine the worst gastro you’ve ever had – that’s what our pups go through. The sad thing about it though, is that even if they receive treatment, there is a risk they won’t make it. The simple matter of the issue is that Parvo virus is easily prevented by vaccination. The same goes for our cats – they are at risk of catching diseases such as Cat Flu and Feline Immuno-deficiency virus (FIV) which can be easily prevented through vaccination.

  • Desexing

Other than it being a legal requirement (if you’re not a registered breeder), desexing your fur-kids has many benefits. As well as stopping unwanted pregnancies and helping with certain behaviours like roaming, aggression and urine marking, there are other health benefits too. It will help prevent conditions such as testicular cancer, prostate cancer, pyometras (infected uterus), and mammary tumours. Though these type of conditions happen in our senior pets, they can be fatal conditions. Make sure you book your four-legged fur-kids at the appropriate age so then it’s one less thing to think about when they get older!

  • Ear care

Not sure why ear care is being mention? Ear issues make up a large percent of the reasons why people bring their pets in to the clinic. It is one of the harder things to monitor due to their ear canals being an ‘L’ shape, and we can only see so much from the outside. By checking our pets’ ears for discharge, odour or redness of the pinna (the ‘flap’ part of their ears), it will indicate there is something going on. The quicker you can detect ear infections, the quicker they can receive treatment and the shorter their ‘recovery’. Not that an ear infection is a dire emergency, it is still a condition worth getting checked sooner rather than later.

  • Dental care

Wouldn’t it be so much easier for us if our pets could hold a toothbrush and brush their own teeth? It’d be the best thing ever! Reality is though- they can’t! That’s where we come in. Feeding dental specific food or chew treats, having our pets on a dry food diet, brushing their teeth or giving them raw carrots are some ways we can help prevent dental disease. As with us humans (who should be seeing the dentist & having a clean every year), our pets ideally should have a dental scale and polish every year to help look after their teeth, and to prevent the need for extractions.

  • Senior pets

It’s a sad fact that our beloved companions age much faster than us, so we need to take extra special care of them as they get older. It is known that for some of our senior pets, they can be fine one day, and the next not so much. To help keep on top of their well-being, make sure to book them in for regular health checks to look for signs such as heart disease, kidney disease, dental disease, arthritis and many other conditions that can make our senior pets’ life more difficult.

As Don McPherson said, “True prevention is not waiting for bad things to happen, it’s preventing things from happening in the first place”. Though we can’t prevent everything from happening to our pets, we can definitely help prevent certain things that will stop our pets from living their best life!