We all know that preventing disease or catching it in its early stages is far better than treating it once it has had time to progress to a more severe stage. Preventive health care on a regular basis will help you do just that, and save you and your pet from needless suffering and a larger financial burden. This article explains what preventive measures you can take to keep your cat healthy.
ANNUAL PHYSICAL EXAM
Just as annual physical exams are recommended for humans, they are recommended for our pets as well. If your cat is older or has medical problems, he may need even more frequent examinations. A year is a long time in a cat’s life. Assuming our cats will live to their early or middle teens, receiving a yearly exam means they will only have about thirteen exams in a lifetime. That is not very many when you think about it.
Important health concerns to discuss with your veterinarian:
- Vaccination status and potential for exposure to disease (i.e., indoor or outdoor cat)
- Parasite control for intestinal parasites, fleas, ticks, mites, and heartworms
- Dental health – care you give at home; any mouth odors, pain, or other signs of disease you may have observed
- Nutrition – including what your cat eats, how often, what supplements and treats are given, and changes in water consumption, weight or appetite
- Exercise – how much exercise your cat receives including how often and what kind; and any changes in your cat’s ability to exercise
- Ears and Eyes – any discharge, redness, or itching
- Stomach and intestines – any vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, gas, belching, or abnormal stools
- Breathing – any coughing, shortness of breath, sneezing, or nasal discharge
- Behavior – any behavior problems such as inappropriate elimination, aggression, or changes in temperament
- Feet and legs – any limping, weakness, toenail problems
- Coat and skin – any hair loss, pigment changes, lumps, itchy spots, shedding, mats, or anal sac problems
- Urogenital – any discharges, heats, changes in mammary glands, urination difficulties or changes, neutering if it has not already been performed
- Blood tests – especially for geriatric cats, those with medical problems, and those who are receiving medications
Consult with your veterinarian to determine which vaccinations your cat should receive, and how often.
You may have heard about the current controversies regarding vaccinating cats. Some researchers believe we do not need to vaccinate annually for most diseases. But how often we should vaccinate for each specific disease in adult animals has not yet been determined. We do not know how long the protection from a vaccine lasts. It may be 5 years for one disease and 3 years for another, and less than 2 years for another.
Almost all researchers agree that for kittens we need to continue to give at least three combination vaccinations and repeat these at one year of age. They also agree that rabies vaccinations must continue to be given according to local ordinances.
Against what diseases?
Experts generally agree on what vaccines are ‘core’ vaccines, i.e., what vaccines should be given to every cat, and what vaccines are given only to certain cats (noncore). Whether to vaccinate with noncore vaccines depends upon a number of things including the age, breed, and health status of the cat, the potential exposure of the cat to an animal that has the disease, the type of vaccine, and how common the disease is in the geographical area where the cat lives or may visit.
In cats, the suggested core vaccines are feline panleukopenia (distemper), feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calici virus, and rabies.
If you have any questions about vaccinating your cat, the annual exam is a good time to ask your veterinarian.
When and how often pets should be tested for heartworm infection is also a matter of debate. In making a decision on when to test, we must consider how common heartworm disease is where the pet lives, what heartworm preventive the pet is receiving, and how long the mosquito season lasts.
Cats should be tested before they are started on a heartworm preventive. Experts do not agree on how often a cat that is taking a preventive should be tested, however, it would be based on risk of exposure and consistency of administering preventives. Consult with your veterinarian to determine what is best for your cat.
CONTROL OF INTESTINAL PARASITES
As with vaccinations and heartworm testing, you will find different opinions on when or if fecal examinations should be performed and when or if cats should receive regular “dewormings.” Decisions on testing and worming should be based on circumstances such as:
- The age of your cat
- The likelihood your cat is exposed to feces from other animals
- Whether your cat has fleas
- Whether your cat hunts
- Whether your cat is on a heartworm preventive that also controls intestinal parasites
- If your cat has been previously infected
- If you plan to breed your female cat
- If there are children who play with the cat
Regular deworming is recommended by the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (AAVP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC).
Kittens* – Because prenatal infections do not occur in kittens, initiate treatment at 3 weeks; repeat at 5, 7, and 9 weeks of age, and then put on a monthly heartworm preventive that also controls intestinal parasites. Using a year-round heartworm preventive/intestinal parasite combination product decreases the risk of parasites.
Nursing Dams- Treat at the same time as kittens.
Adult Cats- If on a year-round heartworm preventive/intestinal parasite combination product, have a fecal test performed 1-2 times per year and treat appropriately. If not on a year-round heartworm preventive/intestinal parasite combination product, have a fecal test performed 2-4 times per year and treat appropriately. Also monitor and eliminate parasites in pet’s environment.
Newly Acquired Animals
Worm immediately, after 2 weeks, and then follow above recommendations.
Roundworms and hookworms of cats can cause serious disease in people, especially children who may not have good hygiene habits. Treating your cat for worms is important for your pet’s health as well as your own.
Many veterinarians would agree that at a minimum, animals should have an annual fecal examination performed. Fecal examinations are advantageous. By having a fecal examination performed, you will know if your cat has intestinal parasites. If she does, you may need to change her environment and access to other animals. You will also know what type of parasites she has so the proper medication will be selected to kill all of them.
GERIATRIC OR ‘SENIOR’ SCREENING
Many veterinarians are starting to recommend screening tests for our older pets. Just as we have our cholesterol and blood pressure checked more often as we grow older, it is suggested our older pets need some routine checks too. Diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, and some hormonal diseases occur much more frequently in older animals. To test for these conditions and identify them before severe and/or irreversible damage is done, blood tests and sometimes radiographs are helpful. An abnormal result means we can diagnose and treat the condition early. Normal results are helpful in giving us a baseline with which we can compare future results.
Many of our older animals are also on medications and may require tests to evaluate the medication level and/or potential harmful effects on various organs.
Oral health is also extremely important in our older pets, so they may require more frequent dental check-ups.
If you have an older cat, discuss these options with your veterinarian.
In summary, annual exams along with recommended blood screening, vaccinations, heartworm testing, and parasite control will help your cat live a happier and longer life.
References and Further ReadingAmerican Heartworm Society: www.heartwormsociety.org Ford, R.B. Feline Vaccination Guidelines. In Bonagura, JD; Twedt, JD (eds.) Current Veterinary Therapy XIV. W.B. Saunders Co. Philadelphia, PA; 2008; 1275-1278. Greene, CE; Schultz, RD. Immunoprophylaxis. In Greene, CE (eds.) Infectious Diseases of the Dog and Cat, ed 3. W.B. Saunders Co. St. Louis, 2006; 1069. Klingborg, DJ; Hustead, DR; Curry-Galvin, EA; Gumley, NR; Henry, SC; Bain, FT; et al. AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents’ report on cat and dog vaccines. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. November 15, 2002 (Volume 221, No. 10); 1401-1407. Levy, J; Crawford, C; Hartmann, K; Hofman-Lehmann, R; Little, S; Sundahl, E; Thayer, V. 2008 American Association of Feline Practitioners’ feline retrovirus management guidelines. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. 2008; 10:300-316. Richards, JR et al. The 2006 American Association of Feline Practitioners Feline Advisory Panel Report, Journal of the American Veterinary Associaiton, 2006; 229(9):1405. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Pets can’t tell us when they are not feeling well. That is why it is important to monitor your pets temperature. An increased temperature is an important indicator of infection or illness. The normal temperature range for adult dogs and cats is around 99.5-102.5° F. If your pet has an increased temperature you should seek medical attention from your veterinarian.
Is your pet getting a thorough examination?
The best way to evaluate the health of a pet is to capture their vital results. This includes blood pressure, pulse oximetry, temperature, weight, heart rate and rhythm, and examine inside the ears, mouth and eyes. This should be done at least twice a year in order to prevent and treat any medical issues.
You notice every little thing your pet does – but did you know that dogs and cats have evolved to hide illness? Showing weakness makes an animal – and their pack – vulnerable, so our best friends do everything they can to keep a stiff upper lip. Your vet can find problems your pet hides – another reason why annual checkups are so important!
Vist EZ Vet Pet Health Care Center for your pet’s annual exam
Bi-Annual Exams Make A Difference
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) emphasizes the benefits of routine care through their national publicity campaign, “Twice A Year For Life.” The AVMA advises that two annual wellness exams are the best way to ensure that any potentially life-threatening condition is caught early. Dr. Maria Diaz, the Medical Director of Miami Veterinary Hospital- EZ Vet Pet Health Care Center in Pinecrest, states,”Prevention is key to a healthy and long life for your pet. And because pets age much quicker than humans, I strongly recommend pets have at least 2 check-ups per year.”
Responsible pet owners agree that routine care impacts the health, quality of life and longevity of their pets. The demand for convenient and affordable routine care continues to increase. The EZ Vet Pet Health Care Station was developed out of this growing need and delivers just that.
Find out more about the EZ Vet Pet Health Care Station
Pets, just like humans, have different tastes, allergies, and sensitivities to foods. With the growing obesity epidemic in the US, it’s important to pay close attention to what our pets are eating on a daily basis and it all starts at the pet food dish.
Here are a few tips for pet feeding:
- Choose a nutritionally balanced pet food. Be sure to check the ingredients on the label and try to avoid foods with fat listed within the first four ingredients. Speak with your veterinarian for suggestions of good foods.
- Moisten your cat’s food. According to a 2010 study at the Waltham Center in the UK, cats on moistened diets (even if it’s just adding water to their kibble) tended to be more active and weighed less.
- Check for allergies or intolerance. If you recently brought home a new pet or are switching your pet’s current food, it is important to monitor them on their new diet to make sure they don’t have any allergies or tummy aches caused by the food.
- Measure your pet’s meals. Free-pouring or “eyeing” the amount of food you feed your pet can make a big difference over time. Be sure to use measuring cups or a scoop with marked measurements so that you can be consistent and ensure that you’re not overfeeding.
- Determine whether you are feeding the correct amount of food. At your next veterinary check-up, ask your vet if your dog or cat is too thin or too fat to ensure that you are feeding the proper amount.
- Be consistent. Frequently changing the brand or type of pet food can upset your pet’s tummy so it’s important to generally stick to the same food, prepared the same, each day. If you decide to change foods, it should be done gradually by mixing in small amounts with your pet’s current food.
- Watch the treat intake. Pet treats can be high in calories and quickly add up. Be sure to moderate the amount of treats given to your pet each day.
- Take exercise into consideration. Did you recently start a new jogging routine with your dog? Are your kids spending more time playing with the cats? If your pet’s exercise habits have changed, it might also be time to adjust his food intake.
- Age is a factor. As your dog or cat gets older, his metabolism (and likely activity level) slow down. Be sure to take your pet’s age into consideration when choosing a food (is it time for a senior diet?) and the size of the scoop.
- All pets are different. Each pet has its own nutritional needs based on his individual age, breed, activity level, lifestyle, etc. so be sure to look at each pet as an individual when determining their food needs.
When’s the last time you weighed your pet? Like humans, it’s not unusual for your pet to sneak on a few extra pounds over the years. This extra weight can have serious implications for a pet’s overall health. That’s why it’s important to identify what your pet’s ideal weight is. This is the basis behind a new invention by Miami veterinarian, Dr. Barry Goldberg. EZ Vet is the original pet scale kiosk that allows pet parents to evaluate if their pet is at a healthy weight, and will educate on ways to prevent pet obesity and offer solutions to correct the problem if needed.
Pet obesity is a serious issue in the United States, and growing. Pet obesity rates continued to increase in 2012, and with the number of overweight cats reaching an all-time high. The sixth annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found that 52.5% of dogs and 58.3% of cats to be overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That equals approximately 80 million U.S. dogs and cats at increased risk for weight-related disorders such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension and many cancers. EZ Vet offers a convenient way to help monitor a pet’s weight to make sure they do not fall into this growing trend.
“You’d be amazed how many pet parents have no idea that their pet is overweight. They may guess their 9 pound Chihuahua is 2-3 pounds overweight and not think it’s a big deal. But those 3 little extra pounds is approximately 33% of their body weight. Can you image carrying around 33% extra weight? Many pet parents simply don’t know what the healthy weight range is for their pet’s breed, gender and age or understand why it is so important,” says Dr. Goldberg. EZ Vet utilizes interactive touch-pad technology to easily gather specifics about the pet and then generates the healthy weight range.
- Just like humans, extra weight and obesity similarly affect pets. Untreated, obesity in pets can make them vulnerable to a variety of health issues such as joint problems, heart and respiratory disease, diabetes, cancer, liver disease, skin problems and heat intolerance. With the Florida summer heat fast approaching, now is the perfect time to evaluate your pets weight and help them shed any extra weight needed. EZ Vet is conveniently located in retail stores so there is never a need for an appointment or a trip to the veterinarian’s office to have a mini-checkup on your pet.
Pets don’t just make lives fuller. They may help make them longer, says an official statement from the American Heart Association.
Owning a pet – especially a dog – seems to have heart health benefits, the group says in the statement published Thursday in the medical journal Circulation.
“The data is most robust for people who own a dog,” says Glenn Levine, a cardiologist with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. But he says there’s reason to believe cats and other pets are helpful, too.
Levine led a scientific committee that reviewed the research on pets and heart health. The group says the studies are not definitive but do suggest:
• Dogs may keep owners active (with all those walks). In one study, dog owners were 54% more likely than other adults to get recommended levels of exercise.
• Interacting with a pet can lower stress responses in the body.
• Pet ownership is associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and less obesity.
In one of the best-designed studies, Levine says, researchers compared people with borderline high blood pressure who adopted dogs with others who also wanted dogs but were randomly assigned to delay the adoptions for purposes of the study. Those who brought home their dogs saw declines in blood pressure and were less likely to see their blood pressure and heart rates rise in response to stress. A study with cats and dogs produced similar results in people with high blood pressure and high-stress occupations, he says.
Most other studies involved comparing pet owners with those who did not have pets, meaning researchers could not rule out the possibility that people who had pets were just healthier to start with.
In any case, the experts don’t recommend that people with heart health problems adopt, rescue or buy pets just for the potential heart health boost.
The main reason to get a pet should be “to give the pet a loving home” and enjoy the relationship, Levine says.
Monitor your pet’s health and weight with the EZ Vet weight kiosk.
Two locations- Allpets Emporium in Pembroke Pines and Coral Springs.
“We also not do not want someone to go out and buy a dog and then be content to sit on the couch and smoke.”
Diet affects every aspect of your dog’s physical and mental well-being. When your dog eats low-quality food and treats, he’s not just consuming empty calories, which packs on pounds; his body is being robbed of the building blocks necessary to maintain good health, energy and an upbeat attitude. Feeding good quality food and treats helps keep Fido’s waistline in check and increase his quality and quantity of life.
Your dog can’t read labels or ask questions; he’s relying on you to make intelligent choices for him. Once you learn to decipher labels, you may be surprised or shocked at what you see.
For instance, the length of the ingredient list doesn’t always indicate the quality of the food. A protein from a specified animal should be the first ingredient. Avoid generic proteins such as “meat” or “poultry.” Although dogs like to eat some of the animal parts we don’t, proteins from a specified animal are better than byproducts. Likewise, byproducts are better than rendered meals.
Always buy the best food you can afford. When a manufacturer uses cheap ingredients, it has to bulk up the food with fillers to meet the government’s minimum nutritional requirements. As a result, the portion size for cheap food is typically larger than for more-expensive food with higher-quality, more-digestible ingredients.
In the end, you’ll be buying more of the cheaper food, which usually works out to be more expensive than buying the higher-quality food in the first place. Just as with humans, obesity is a growing problem for dogs. Limit table scraps; they’re fattening, and some human food, such as chocolate, grapes, onions, garlic, bones and Xylitol, is dangerous for dogs.