Ben Franklin once said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." So true this is in the land of veterinary medicine -- with both illness and expense. Our pets provide so much for us --- joy, stress relief, comic relief,
lower blood pressure, and sometimes protection from strangers. It behooves us to make sure they live a longer quality of life.
Once to twice yearly preventive veterinary visits, vaccines based on lifestyle and environment, parasite
tests and prevention, home dental care, nutrition, exercise, pet-proofing your house and yard, and pet insurance, pet savings accounts, or credit card plans are some of the most important things you can do for your pets.
care is best started when you first obtain your pet. If your pet is a puppy or a kitten, teaching your pet to allow you to put your fingers in its mouth gently (with caution) and with a fingerbrush (if the mouth is big enough) or guaze wrapped round
your finger, is a good first step. Fingerbrushes and toothpaste are available from your veterinarian and most pet stores. Stay away from toothpaste made in China. Don't use human toothpaste --- it is toxic to pets. The whole brushing experience must
be positive for your pet and not forced or it will not work. If brushing is not possible, refer to Veterinary Oral Health Council website //www.vohc.org/ for many other dental products recommended by board-certified
Nutrition is also very important. There are many quality pet foods on the market and homemade recipes if the owner prefers this. Never feed a raw diet as they tend to be unbalanced and often contain
bacterial contamination. Any homemade diet should be made in consultation with a veterinary nutritionist. Pets have a much shorter lifespan than us and we want to achieve the maximum amount of quality life. Talk to your veterinarian about your pet's
unique dietary recommendations--not all pets are the same.
Exercising your cats inside with laser toys, handheld feather toys, automatic toys that you start with a button for them to chase, or feeding balls that they have to roll
to dispense food, are all good options. Taking your dog for a walk at least 30 minutes total per day is recommended.
Pet-proofing a house and yard can be just as complicated as toddler proofing---sometimes moreso. There are many toxic
hazards in our homes and yards that can send a pet straight to the pet E.R. These include rodent bait, non-pet-safe de-icing salts, pesticides, antifreeze, cocoa mulch, fertilizer, many plants, over-the-counter pain relievers, vitamins, prescription
drugs, tobacco, household cleaners and detergents, chocolate, coffee, tea, grapes and raisins;xylitol that is in many gums, candies, low-sugar versions of foods ; pennies, alcohol, raw yeast dough, and spoiled foods. Also, fatty foods can sometimes cause
There are also many objects which can land your pet in the E.R. for emergency surgery. These include tiny balls, coins, sharp objects, batteries, twist ties, hair twisties, rubberbands, tinsel, ribbon, string
, dental floss, yarn, thread, hairpins, glass, jewelry, nylons, socks, plastic wrap, paper clips, and electrical cords.
Having pet insurance, a pet savings account, or a Care Credit account //www.carecredit.com/vetmed/
in place for emergencies is important. Many treatments, medications, and surgeries are available that can save pets' lives , but we have to have these safety nets available to make them more affordable. Many pet insurance plans are available
for monthly costs much less than the cost of a monthly cell phone plan or a monthly cable/satellite plan. A search of pet insurance on the internet will enlighten you.
Dr. Marisa Pepin-Slade and
Dr. Robert Slade are long-time Carroll County residents and operate a mobile veterinary practice. They welcome your comments at DrsPepin.Slade@gmail.com.