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.