||As the old saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." - Benjamin Franklin. This is so true! Not every illness or injury can be prevented. But there is so much that can be done to help keep your pets out of the veterinary office, some of which is still underutilized.
Certain illnesses have had such a catastrophic effect on lives that there was incentive to create vaccines to stimulate the body's immune system so that it is prepared if an exposure to the actual infectious agent occurs. It's kind of like not just having a gun (your immune system) but having it drawn and aimed at the attacker (vaccine stimulated immunity). We have vaccines against many diseases that were once very common and deadly (distemper), some that still are common and devistating (parvo) and some that can be public health risks to humans (Rabies and Leptospirosis). Not every animal needs to be vaccinated for everything that can be vaccinated against, so talking with your veterinarian about your pets environment and lifestyle should allow you to make educated choices on how to provide for your pets disease protection. There are animals who benefit from vaccines for Kennel Cough (Bordetella bronchiseptica) while others don't. There are vaccines for Feline Leukemia for outdoor cats. Vaccines for ringworm to aid in treatment. The newest use of vaccine technology is to protect dogs from snake venom, in particular Copperhead and Timber Rattler! Excellent technology with constantly increasing safety.
Heartworms are a true "worm" living in the chambers of the heart and the major blood vessels leading to the lungs and from the liver. The worms act not only as a physical irritant, but cause scarring and clotting within the vessels that can result in significant damage to the lungs. Death is not uncommon. Prevention with a monthly tablet or topical medication (which also prevent a spectrum of intestinal parasites) makes sense for any dogs (and many cats) who might be exposed to mosquitoes, which are the transmitting intermediate host. The new release of a popular preventive overseas has added a 6 month repository injection to the aresenal against heartworms. We welcome Proheart 6 as a tool to help protect your beloved dog from this parasite.
Flea and/or Tick prevention:
We are blessed that newer and safer flea and tick preventatives are being released that allow for safe application and long durations of activity (a month or more!) Add to this a home spray or yard spray during the seasonal "blooms" which occur when stockpiled enironmental storehouses of eggs hatch at once due to changes in climate, and fighting fleas is much easier than it used to be. Options also allow for rotating flea control to minimize the establishment of resistence in a flea population. Customizing your family's flea control to your unique ecosystem is as easy as talking with your veterinary staff. Don't forget that indoor only cats can still act as reservoirs for fleas brought in intially on a person's clothing or the fur of an indoor/outdoor pet.
Not only are dirty stinky teeth, well, dirty and stinky, but they also can result in significant disease. The disease may start in the mouth with gingivitis, gingival recession, tooth root exposure, and abscesses. Tooth loss and facial bone damage may occur with symptoms such as pain, chronic sinus infections, etc... More frighteningly, oral disease can be a doorway to kidney disease, liver disease, and heart valvular disease. Thus, keeping the mouth clean not only is a cosmetic and hygenic issue, but a life saving issue as well! While not everyone can brush their pets teeth, offering chew toys (especially CET treats which are enzymatically treated to help reduce oral disease), oral rinses like CET rinse that is simply put in the drinking water daily, and having periodic dental cleanings and polishings can not only make your pet more kissably fresh, but live longer and healthier while he lives.