Pet health care: Treating and preventing pet illness – Part 2

Illness and death are inescapable. We know that some day our pets will become ill or injured. Without question, it will happen. Illness is an inevitable part of life and should come as no great surprise. Because we know it will happen eventually, we shouldn’t pretend it away, we should plan ahead. There are many preventative pet health measures we can take to keep out pets as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Beyond that, we can be watchful, prepared and ready to act when injury or illness strike.

Preventing pet health problems

1. Regular veterinary exams.

Most veterinarians recommend yearly exams for most pets. If you have an elderly pet, or one with an ongoing medical condition, your veterinarian may recommend exams twice a year or more. Annual exams give you a chance to have all your pet health questions answered, as well as allowing your veterinarian to catch early signs of illness that may be easy to miss at home.

2. Vaccinations.

Depending on the region of the country you live in your veterinarian will recommend a variety of vaccinations for your cat or dog. These vaccinations prevent contagious diseases that can be very debilitating or even fatal. Vaccines need to be boostered regularly to remain effective. Some diseases that these vaccines protect against, like rabies, is a hazardous to human health as well as dog and cat health.

3. Heartworm preventative.

Heartworm disease is usually considered a dog health issue, but newer research shows that cats can develop some health problems associated with heartworms as well. Cats don’t develop adult heartworms the way dogs do because they are not the primary host for these parasites, but the larva can still cause damage to a cat. In a dog, heartworms can be fatal. While heartworms are a risk anywhere there are mosquitoes (this is how heartworm larva are transmitted) some regions of the country have a much higher risk than others. All dogs should take a monthly heartworm preventative, and in high-risk areas, your veterinarian may advise a preventative for cats as well.

4. Spay or Neuter.

Unless you are planning to breed you pet they should be spayed or neutered early for the most health benefits. It’s an old wives tale that it is beneficial to a female dog or cat to have one litter, or to go through one heat cycle before being spayed. The opposite is true. Your pet receives maximum health benefits from being spayed before the first heat, usually around 4 to

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