I. Prevention is the best medicine! This is our motto here at BVH. This encompasses many things, including:
1- Regular physical examinations- at least yearly, ideally every 6months.
2-Yearly bloodwork and urinalysis. About 10-15% of apparently healthy pets have problems detected via additional testing.
3- Vaccinations- custom tailored to your pet's needs. Remember Rabies is required by PA State Law for all domestic animals. We can prevent life threatening diseases such as Lyme, Distemper, Parvovirus, Rabies and Feline Leukemia with vaccination. Most vaccines require an initial 2 boosters 3 weeks apart, then annual or every 3 year boosters, depending on the vaccine.
4- Parasite control. We recommend yearly fecal examinations plus preventive deworming via heartworm prevention for dogs, and a topical every 2-3 months for outdoor cats. Millions of people are diagnosed with roundworms or hookworms yearly.
5- Dental care- daily brushing with CET toothpaste is best, but we also have a rinse, water additive and antiseptic chews, along with special diets to help combat dental disease. Periodontal disease is not only painful and smelly, but can harm the liver, kidneys and/or heart. Remember, it is safer for your pet to undergo a dental procedure under anesthesia then to allow the infection to go untreated! We have lost more pets to consequences of periodontal disease then we should.
6- Grooming- helps you to find problems such as lumps, skin infection, etc. Matted hair is painful. If you are unable to groom your pet, we can provide numbers for some good groomers.
7- Neutering/Spaying- prevents unwanted pets, uterine, ovarian, testicular and breast cancer. Also prevents life threatening uterine infection (pyometra) of females and incontinence in males due to prostate enlargement. Females spayed prior to going into heat don't develop breast cancer, but an unspayed female has a one in three chance of breast cancer by her third heat cycle.
II. Proper diet
Feed a good quality food- first ingredient should be a meat or meat meal. The food should be tested via AAFCO feeding trials, not just formulated, and should be approved for only one life stage- ie approved for adult dogs means it is not a puppy food. Approved for all life stages is a puppy or kitten food. Dogs do better on dry food alone- feed at about 1 cup per 20 lb sof body weight. Cats should be fed both canned and dry food- no more than 1/2 cup of dry food daily per cat. We can help guide you with feeding your pet appropriately.
III. Keep your pet fit!!!!! Lean pets live on average 2-3 years longer than overweight pets. Your pet should have a distinct waist line and the ribs should be easily felt. We can help you determine if your pet is overweight (approximately 80% of our adult patients are). Even a few pounds can increase your pet's risk for diabetes, pancreatitis, and arthritis. Exercise your pet daily! This means at least one hour for larger dogs and at least 30 minutes for small dogs. This should include jogging, running, fetching, not just walking. Cats can be encouraged to play multiple times daily with laser lights, wand toys, noisy balls, rolled up paper, etc.
IV. Teach your pet some manners! Attend puppy kindergarten or obedience classes. Train your dog to greet new people by sitting,not jumping. Train your cat to use a scratching post. Every dog should know how to sit and stay, allow nail trimming, ear cleaning and general grooming. If your pet is uncooperative, don't give up, then your pet wins. A trainer can assist you to achieve a well behaved pet. Remember, you form how your pet behaves. It is up to you to teach your pet the desired behavior, not just to reprimand him for the undesired behavior.
V. Pet proof your house
Kitchen: chocolate, onions, grapes, avocados- toxic; fatty foods can cause pancreatitis, bones can cause obstruction and severe gastroenteritis.
Bathroom: Toilet bowl cleaner or additives, bleach, medications- esp aspirin, tylenol, motrin, alleve, Baclofen, antidepressants, anti-cancer medications.
Garage: antifreeze- 1 Tablespoon can kill!, rat poison, insecticides, snail bait, etc.
Liquid potpourri, toxic plants, strings, ribbons
Flea medications- pyrethrins are toxic to cats!!! Do not use dog flea medicine on cats.
VI. Take care of small problems before they become disasters. If your pet is sick, eats something or doesn't seem right- don't wait several days to weeks to obtain help. We often diagnose problems in pets that we could have helped if we had seen them sooner, but the owner waited too long for us to help the pet.
VII. Do not smoke around your pets! Second hand smoke can cause asthma, worsen tracheal collapse, and increase the risk for cancer in pets.
VIII. Get Pet Insurance. This can be a life saver if your pet becomes ill. The plans are varied in what they cover and cost, with most plans costing under $20 per month.
IX. Prevent dangers you cannot afford to fix. Keep cats indoors, and use cat carriers to travel to and from the vet. Keep dogs on leashes with snug collars or harnesses or confined in a real or Invisible Fence system. Bottom line, loose pets get hit by cars and injured more severely.
X. Do not self medicate your pet. Check with your veterinarian or the emergency clinic before giving your pet any medication, as many human medications are toxic for pets. My most memorable example was a client who gave her kitty Tylenol for a fever associated with an upper respiratory infection. By the time I saw the cat it was jaundiced and dying from the Tylenol, not the easily treated runny nose!
Remember, prevent what you can. If in doubt, call your vet. Not everything is preventable, but why not prevent what you can.