....from the desk of Michael D. Keem, DVM.
Clients often ask me.."How can I save money on veterinary bills and improve the quality of my
pet's life?" I tell them...Preventative health care!
Just as people are living healthier and longer lives due to preventative health care (such as
improving dental hygiene) so are animals. At the Aurora Pet Hospital we are strong advocates of
preventative health care. It is a lot easier to prevent a health problem than it is to treat one and less
costly in the long run.
Below is a list of things we recommend that will help prevent trauma, illness, suffering and
provide the very best health care for your pet. We realize that everyone's situation is different, and
that some of these recommendations may not be possible or practical for every owner or pet. We
commend each and every person, who enters our hospital, for taking pet ownership responsibly and
providing the veterinary care for their pets that they do. Should you wish to do all that you can
however, here is our list:
- Have your pet spayed or neutered. Unless you plan to breed, this is one of the most
important health benefits you can provide. In female dogs, besides preventing unwanted
pregnancies, spaying prior to her first heat prevents the development of breast tumors later in
life, half of which are cancerous. Spaying your pet also eliminates any possibility of
developing a pyometra (uterus infection), which requires emergency surgery. For male
pets, neutering makes you the center of their affection, and not the female dog or cat in heat a mile
or two away! Neutered dogs are happier to stay at home, less apt to wander and may also
help to decrease aggressive tendencies. From a health standpoint, neutering prevents
testicular cancer, and greatly reduces the possibility of developing prostatic disease, perianal
adenomas (tumors) and hernias as he ages.
- Have your pet vaccinated, and have boosters administered on a regular basis throughout his
or her life as recommended. It breaks our hearts when we see a pet die from a disease that is
easily preventable through immunization. At Aurora Pet Hospital, we take into account the
"lifestyle" of each of our patients, and will base our recommendations for vaccination on that.
We will never recommend any more or any less protection than your dog might need.
- Have your dog HEAL tested, and put on a preventative medication.
Annual Heartworm testing has changed to accomodate our ever increasing exposure to Lyme Disease and other bloodborn pathogens such as Erlichiosis and Anoplasmosis. HEAL is an acronym we use to represent testing for all four diseases. Western New York has been considered an endemic heartworm region since 1988.
Heartworm Disease is on the rise. It can be costly to treat heartworm disease. Preventatives,
such as Interceptor, are very effective and easy to administer. One tablet a month will not only protect
against Heartworm Disease but also protect dogs against many of the more common
intestinal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms and whipworms.
- Protect your pet (and your family members) from internal parasites, i.e. "worms".
Bring a "fecal sample " to our office at a minimum of once each year for microscopic
examination. Most worms cannot be detected with the human eye. All pets that go outdoors,
even briefly, can be exposed to fecal contamination from other pets or wildlife such as
coyotes, foxes or skunks. Modern prescription "dewormers" are very effective and very safe.
At a minimum, we can provide a dose of dewormer for your pet at its' annual examination
for a nominal fee. By keeping your pet free of intestinal parasites, you are also helping to
reduce the risk of family members from contracting parasites such as roundworms and
hookworms. Children, older adults and people with compromised immune systems are
especially at an increased risk of becoming infected with these parasites. The consequences
can be severe. It is important not only for your pet's protection to be "strategically
dewormed" on a regular basis, but for your family members as well.
- Protect your pet from fleas.
We carry a variety of products to help keep fleas off your pet(s) and out of your home. For the pet that is exposed to woods and tall grasses we have Vectra 3D for dogs only, which is a monthly application that protects from fleas, ticks, mosquitoes as well as sand flies, or Vectra for cats which protects against fleas but contains no tick control. This product was introduced three years ago and we have had great success since the flea population has not adjusted to its active ingredients, like so many other products on the market. If your pet is an avid swimmer or is frequently groomed, we offer Comfortis which is administered orally as a flea control, only. The newest member of our product line is Trifexis which, like Comfortis is administered orally. However, it also contains Heartworm meidcation (Interceptor) which requires your pet be current on HEAL testing before it can be administered.
- Maintain good dental health. This is one of the most important things you can do for
your pet. Feeding only dry dog food, providing chewing materials that actually help "clean
the teeth," and brushing the teeth on a regular basis can do much to prevent periodontal
disease as your pet ages. If necessary, we will recommend having your pet's teeth cleaned
and polished while it is anesthetized. To perform a dental scaling without anesthesia
is a disservice to you and your pet, as it does not allow for a thorough cleaning below the
gum line where periodontal disease is active. Periodontal disease, besides being very painful,
allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart, kidneys, and other organs in
the body. Heart and kidney failure are two of the most common causes of premature death in
dogs, that can often be delayed or completely prevented with proper dental care. Removal of
dental tartar on the visible surfaces of the teeth has little effect on a pet's health and provides
a false sense of accomplishment. Because the enamel on your dog or cat's teeth is 1/10 as
dense as human tooth enamel, often more harm than good can result from a dental scaling
without anesthesia and may actually create ridges in the enamel of your pet's teeth which
allows plaque to collect even more rapidly than before.
- Provide your pet with the very best nutrition you can. Two basic rules in pet food are
"you get what you pay for" and "you are what you eat." We highly recommend feeding
either Science Diet or Iams. We also recommend staying away from pet food that is loaded
with non-nutritive additives/colorings/preservatives, etc. Avoid marketing "gimmicks"
which make pet foods look like hamburger, or have cute colors, cute flavors (cheese, bacon),
etc. A plain brown high quality dry pet food is the very best thing you can feed your pet.
We also encourage feeding the proper food for your pet's age and size.
- Have your pet microchipped. The ResQ chip is a safe, simple, and permanent form of pet
identification designed to quickly identify lost pets and reunite them with their owners. We
can implant a microchip in seconds with little if any discomfort to your dog during any
scheduled procedure or checkup. Pet owners agree that the major benefit of the ResQ chip is
Peace of Mind!
- Allow us to provide them with a Wellness Program as they become older. Because of
advances in disease control and diet, pets are living longer, increasing the possibility that they
will experience a major illness at some point. Early detection and prevention of disease are
just as important for pets as for people. In fact, major health changes can occur in as little as
three months because dogs age much more rapidly than we do. While certain breeds are
more prone to developing diseases earlier than others, as a general rule, we recommend an
annual urinalysis and wellness diagnostic chemistry profile beginning at age seven.
- Keep your dog out of the street. Rarely is there ever a "street smart" dog. Any dog running
loose could get hit by a car. All too often we have heard distraught owners say: " I don't know
what came over him - he never goes in the street!"
- Keep your dog on a leash when possible. Exercise is an integral part of a pet's physical and
mental well being. Unsupervised running can lead to torn nails, lacerations and dogfights
besides other trauma. Please, before you allow your dog to run off leash, take a good look at
the area around you. Be very careful.
- Don't allow your dog to ride loose in the back of a pickup truck. Like dogs that "never
go in the street" dogs that "never jump out of the truck" sometimes do! Broken legs and torn
knee ligaments may cost well over a thousand dollars or more to repair.
- Keep your dog out of the garbage. "Garbage Gut" can lead to severe vomiting and
diarrhea. This may necessitate hospitalization/x-rays/IV fluids, etcetera. "Real bones" as
chew toys may cause real problems. Some dogs and cats can even die as a result of ingesting
bones/human medicines/antifreeze, which has been placed in the garbage!
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Should you have any questions about these
recommendations, or if you have other questions regarding the care of your dog or cat, please don't hesitate
to ask us. We are here to help you provide your pets with a long and healthy life.
Dr. Michael Keem
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