Pet Vitamins and Supplements

Most healthy pets that eat a high quality, nutritionally complete commercially prepared food do not need to receive a daily vitamin and mineral supplement.  Reputable pet food manufacturers go to great lengths to make sure that their diets provide the correct amount of vitamins and minerals. Adding more can actually be harmful if excesses build up to toxic levels or interfere with the absorption of other vitamins and minerals.

This does not mean that vitamin and mineral pet supplements are always a bad idea.  Here are some instances when they can be life-savers:

  • Some diseases can be treated with vitamins and/or minerals (e.g., vitamin K for dogs to combat poisonings with certain types of rodenticides).  Your veterinarian will prescribe the correct supplement or combination of supplements to treat your pet’s condition.
  • Animals that eat home-prepared foods should receive broad-spectrum vitamin and mineral supplements.  It is almost impossible to create a balanced diet without them.  A veterinary nutritionist should always be involved in designing recipes for home-cooked pet foods.
  • Some pets are so finicky that they will only eat extremely small amounts or will only accept diets that are of questionable quality.  A multivitamin/mineral supplement can help prevent nutritional deficiencies in these cases.

Talk to your veterinarian to determine whether your pet should receive feline or canine supplements.

Knowing what is Normal for your Pet

Part of being able to determine when an animal is sick or injured is knowing what is normal for that pet.  Owners should monitor their pet’s behavior daily and perform brief physical examinations monthly so they can recognize when something has changed.

  • Run your hands over your pet’s body to feel for any new lumps or bumps that should be checked out by the veterinarian. Also, ruffle your pet’s fur and look at the skin for fleas and ticks, redness, scaling, etc.
  • Look at the color of your pet’s gums. Keep an eye out for dental disease or any masses in the mouth.
  • Examine ears, eyes, nose, nails, feet and the anogenital region for anything unusual that may have developed since your last exam.
  • Weigh your pet monthly and record the information so you can pick up any unexpected weight gain or loss as early as possible.

If you find anything out of the ordinary during your examination, contact your pet’s veterinarian with any questions or concerns.

 

Top Ten Reasons to Vaccinate your Pet

Vaccination has become a hot topic in human and veterinary medicine these days. Choosing which diseases to vaccinate against should be an informed decision owners make with the advice of their veterinarian. Your pet’s health, lifestyle and geographic region may affect which vaccinations are deemed necessary. However, there are many good reasons in favor of vaccinating your pet:

1.)   It’s the Law: It’s mandatory to have your pet vaccinated against rabies in every U.S. state. Even pets kept indoors can potentially be exposed if they get out unexpectedly or an uninvited animal gets in the house (i.e. bats).

2.)   Your Health: Several diseases can be transmitted from pets to humans such as Rabies and Leptospirosis. Vaccinating your pet helps reduce the risk of human infection and is especially necessary if there are young, elderly or immuno-compromised members in your household.

3.)   Boarding and Doggy Daycare: If you ever plan on boarding your dog or dropping them off at doggy daycare, they must have an updated Bordatella vaccination. This vaccine protects against kennel cough, which is highly contagious among dogs. Although kennel cough is usually mild, it can sometimes lead to severe pneumonia.

4.)   Risk of Lyme Disease: Lyme disease is an insidious disease spread by ticks. Lyme disease can cause low blood platelet count, joint disease and pain.

5.)   Risk of Leptospirosis: Bacterial organisms in wildlife cause Leptospirosis, which can lead to liver and kidney failure. This disease can be prevented with regular vaccination.

6.)   Risk of the Deadly Parvovirus: Parvovirus is a severe, life-threatening infection that causes bloody diarrhea and vomiting to the point of shock and even death. Parvo is extremely contagious and puppies are most at risk. This awful infection is almost 100% preventable with vaccination.

7.)   Risk of Distemper: Distemper can cause severe neurological, dermatologic and respiratory disease. Most Dogs that contract distemper are euthanized due to the progressive nature of the disease. Distemper can be prevented with vaccination.

8.)   Risk of Contracting Hepatitis:  This virus can cause severe liver disease and is nearly 100% preventable with appropriate vaccinations.

9.)   Risk of Rabies:  Contraction of this disease nearly always results in death due to euthanasia or neurological problems in animals and people.  This disease is preventable with vaccination.

10.)  Vaccinating can Save Money: Most veterinary vaccinations are relatively inexpensive. Vaccinations are definitely substantially less expensive than the cost of treatment for the diseases they protect against.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Many dangerous diseases seen in dogs and cats are completely preventable with the right vaccinations. Vaccinating gives pet owners peace of mind and helps pets lead safe and healthy lives.