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How to have healthy dogs and cats

Updated on September 3, 2008

Preventive medicine is the key to your pet's wellness


Preventing is better than treating" this is truly a fact when it comes to catering to our pet's wellbeing. It happens very often, that as owners we have our pets seen when their conditions have deteriorated at such an advanced stage that treatment has become more costly and more complicated.

Preventive veterinary medicine focuses on this principle, preventing conditions from advancing but most of all preventing these conditions from occurring in the first place.


I recall as a veterinarian assistant, that owners of puppies coming in for their very first vaccination appointment were given a special puppy kit, containing various brochures, a small tube of tooth paste and a small tooth brush. Dental care is ideal if started at an early age. We know of course that puppies have still baby teeth, but if they are started early to get used to a good dental hygiene program, they will be much more tolerant of having their teeth cleaned once their permanent teeth came in.

Unfortunately, many owners left their dog's little tooth care kit on the reception desk or next to their seat. Some clearly confessed they would never be able to clean their puppy's teeth, while others just pretended to forget it. It is a shame that these people did not even give the kit a try, they just literally gave up in the waiting room.

Dental care is not just what most of us think it is. Dental issues in dogs and cats have much more effect on their bodies than we may imagine. Advanced stages of dental decay have been known to have caused heart, liver and kidney disease due to the bacteria entering the blood stream.

Treating dental decay in dogs is not as easy as in humans. They will require a general anesthetic and the procedure worries many owners of geriatric pets. Once, again this is a reason why preventive care is important. It is estimated that more than half dogs and cats over the age of five years old have some form of dental decay that requires a veterinarian's attention.


Puppies and kittens will start them an early age (usually between 6 and 8 weeks. Thanks, to these vaccines, many major disease nowadays have decreased dramatically and in some instances have even almost vanished.


Puppies and dogs should receive the following vaccinations:

DHLP-PLVC which stands for:







Bordetella aka Kennel cough



Ask your vet about which diseases are

more common in your area and at what age he suggests giving the vaccinations.


Kittens and cats should receive the following vaccinations:

FVRCCP which stands for:

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis



Panleukopenia (feline distemper)


Feline Leukemia (FELV)

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus ( FIV aka Feline AIDS)

Ask your vet about which diseases are more common in your area and at what age he suggests giving the vaccinations.

While vaccines are effective in preventing diseases, we must consider that no vaccine really protects 100%. Some pets may also develop vaccine reactions, some mild and some severe.

Mild vaccine reactions:





Reluctance to move


Severe allergic reactions:



Swollen face


Difficulty breathing

Pale gums

Weak pulse




Always inform your vet if your dog or cat is exhibiting any signs of an allergic reaction.

If the symptoms are severe your pet will need immediate assistance. If they are mild your vet will note the reaction in the chart and give antihistamines before any following vaccinations (another form of preventive medicine).


When your puppy or kitten is seen fr the first time, they will likely receive a dewormer to prevent parasite infestations. Kittens and puppies in particular are very prone to Roundworm infestations. Fleas and ticks may be prevented by applying topical medications between the shoulder blades on a monthly basis.

Heartworm is a big concern for dogs. All dogs should be put on heartworm pills especially if they live in areas where there are dense populations of mosquitoes.

Below are some common parasites encountered in dogs and cats which your vet may want yo apply preventive measures:










These parasites may be more prone in certain areas more than others and they may potentially cause major health problems if left to thrive on your pet. Preventive measures are key to your pet's wellbeing.


Believe it or not spaying and neutering are part of preventive veterinary practices because both procedures play a vital role in preventing diseases. Best of all, both surgeries will also make your pets of a better disposition and reduce annoying habits such as marking territory or aggressive behaviors.



Breast cancer

Uterine infection

Spotting during heat cycle

False pregnancy

Tumors of ovaries or uterus

Neutering prevents:

Prostate cancer

Enlarged prostate

Tumors of testicles or penis

Perineal hernia

Aggressive traits

Marking territory

Desire to roam


Desire to roam

As we can see there are many benefits in spay and neutering your pet. The recommended age for both procedures is around 6-8 months but more and more veterinarians are starting to spay at an earlier age believing that younger pets have shorter recovery times and less complications.


Responsible breeders are aware of the fact that many diseases and conditions may be passed on to their dog's offspring, therefore they practice preventive medicine by having their sire and dam or queen and stud tested for various inherited conditions. Below are some common conditions and diseases that have a genetic link:

Blood disorders

Cardiovascular disorders

Endocrine disorders

Eye disorders

Gastrointestinal disorders

Immune disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders

Nervous system disorders

Respiratory disorders

Skin disorders

Urinary and reproductive disorders

Of course there are also those contagious diseases transmitted sexually from sire to dam, queen to stud and vice-versa. So it is highly recommended to screen for such diseases such as Brucellosis.

As we have seen, preventive medicine plays a vital role for your dog's or cat's wellbeing.

Each time your puppy or dog, cat or kitten is seen, the veterinarian is basically practicing preventive care. He/she will carefully examine your pet's overall physical condition and will look for signs of upcoming problems. When caught early, most problems are easily fixed costing less and being easier on your pet. So, have your pet seen for yearly check-ups and twice a year if your pet is older, chances are you will surely believe the preventing is better than treating protocol.


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