Bringing a new dog or cat into your home is a time of discovery and joy; that is unless the discovery centers on pet illness.
In the past, most pets were obtained from local sources (i.e. nearby shelters or breeders) and therefore tended to only have diseases that were common to the area. These days, however, some breeders will send their puppies or kittens hundreds or thousands of miles to their new owners or to pet shops. Animals in shelters may also have traveled great distances. This is especially true in parts of the country, like the Northeast, that have managed to gain better control of the animal over-population problem. Animals are now often transported from facilities that are overflowing to those that have available space in another part of the country.
While this is obviously beneficial for the animals that would otherwise have been euthanized, it can occasionally present some problems for their new owners. If your new pet becomes sick, it is now quite possible that the illness may be something that your local veterinarian does not see on a regular basis.
So, what can owners do to protect their new pets? Try to find out your pet’s travel history and pass it along to your veterinarian. This information can be a life-saver by helping your vet determine whether any screening tests should be run. Background info is also extremely helpful in producing a quick diagnosis so that the appropriate treatment and pet medications can be administered in the unfortunate event that your pet does fall ill.
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.
Cats are physiologically different than dogs. Because of this, they are more prone to developing potentially life threatening side-effects from the most common class of pain relievers used in dogs –NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories). This makes keeping cats comfortable in the face of both acute (i.e. post-surgical or traumatic injury) and chronic (i.e. osteoarthritis) pain challenging.
When cats are hospitalized, veterinarians have a wide range of options to choose from regarding pain medication. But once a cat is scheduled to go home, the choices become more limited. Below are a few of the more commonly used pain relievers for cats commonly available from retailers like http://www.vetdepot.com. Many are also good options for dogs.
- Buprenorphine – good for acute and chronic pain but can get expensive with long-term use
- Tramadol – good for acute and chronic pain
- gabapentin – good for chronic pain
- amantadine – good for chronic pain
- Joint Supplements – good for chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis and possibly some other conditions
- Metacam (meloxicam) – this is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory that has been used in cats, but repeated use increases the risk of side effects. It may still be an option for some individuals.
If you think your pet is in pain, talk to your veterinarian and ask if any of the aforementioned pet medications might be appropriate.
As summer months bring heat and extreme temperatures, it is important to be mindful of ailments that can affect our furry friends. Hot spots can be both painful and unpleasant for dogs; however, with quick and attentive at home care from owners, recovery is a few steps away. In order to provide the proper treatment owners must be mindful and attentive to their pet’s behavior as well as employ proper preventative measures to avoid occurrence and reoccurrence of hot spots. If hot spots do emerge, pet owners can employ a variety of at home treatments from vetdepot to ease pain and discomfort.
Hot spots are usually seen in long haired breeds of dogs as moisture that is trapped close to the skin creates bacteria akin to dermatitis as seen in their human counterparts. Observing one’s pet during the summer month for excessive itching and the emergence of red spots or sores is important to identifying canine hot spots. If your pet is scratching the same spot repeatedly, experiences pain to the touch, or has a spot that is red and irritated or releases pus, then hot spots are most likely the culprit.
If you have a long-haired dog, you might consider a short summer haircut. Regular brushing and baths can keep mats and tangles at bay, which are often the contributing cause of hot spots in long haired dogs. Allergies can also affect hot spots so be mindful of your pet’s exposure to certain outdoor plants.
If hot spots appear, proper care is necessary. First, clip all of the hair in the area surrounding the hot spot. Next, carefully wash the wound with a gentle antibacterial soap and let dry completely to avoid more exposure to moisture. Depending on the severity and quantity of hot spots, you may consider visiting your vet for some cortisone or a topical antibiotic for dogs. Medicated anti-itch powders can also provide comfort for your four legged friend.
It’s important to be mindful of the cause of your pet’s hot spots, whether it be a grooming issue or an allergic reaction. Knowing the cause can help prevent reoccurrence and make the rest of your summer itch free for your lovable pet!
More owners are looking into and purchasing health insurance for their pets. Choices range from very inexpensive policies that provide some financial help when dealing with an unforeseen illness or accident to more comprehensive plans that cover preventative care and have high coverage limits. Of course these latter policies also have higher premiums, but with a little research most pet owners can find a pet insurance plan is a good fit for them.
Here are a few things to remember when considering health insurance for your pet:
- No policy covers all your veterinary expenses. You will still need to have savings and/or credit available to cover deductibles, copays, and costs that exceed or are excluded from your policy. Primarily think of insurance as a way to help deal with unexpected expenses. Routine purchases like vaccines, heartworm prevention and flea and tick control can be budgeted for and purchased from online retailers such as vetdepot.com.
- Know what you are buying. All policies have exclusions, so check the fine print.
- Preexisting conditions will not be covered, so if your dog or cat has already been diagnosed with a disease, the cost of treating it (pet medication refills, rechecks, etc.) will come out of your pocket. Consider getting insurance when your pet is young to avoid the pitfalls associated with preexisting conditions.