Every family likely has a calendar filled with activities and appointments, ranging from weekly sports practice to bi-annual dental cleanings. If there’s a pet in the family, they should have a spot on the calendar too.
The most important appointment for pets is their annual visit. Just like in people, routine physical exams are a great way to help catch potential health problems early, says Dr. Emily Seidl, staff veterinarian at the Animal Welfare Association (AWA).
Preventive medicine is even more important when one considers that pets don’t always show us when they are in pain or might have an illness. “Pets, especially cats, are masters at hiding when they are hurting. While pet owners know their pets’ individual moods best, getting another trained set of eyes on your pet can often pick up on things you’ve missed. Gradual changes over time can really sneak up on us pet owners, and your yearly visit is a great time to double check what has really changed over the past year,” Seidl continues.
Pets, much like their human counterparts, need regular vaccinations to fend off diseases. “A current rabies vaccine is a legal requirement in N.J., but they should also have a distemper vaccine that protects against diseases like parvovirus and distemper. There are also other vaccines that you can discuss with your veterinarian depending on what your pet is exposed to; canine influenza, FeLV (feline leukemia) in cats, and leptospirosis are just some of the many options,” says Seidl.
One thing veterinarians have seen increasing among pets in our area is cases of tick-borne diseases. “In New Jersey, our climate is so mild that I highly recommend year-round flea, tick and heartworm prevention for all animals. Ticks can carry Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis, which can be really devastating for pets and can be difficult to fully eradicate. The best prevention is to keep your pets on year-round flea and tick medication,” she advises.
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Published and copyrighted in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 18, Issue 8 (November 2021)