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. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The demand for retail-style healthcare has EZ Vet Station thinking “inside the box”. The current focus on innovative solutions and concepts to deliver affordable, convenient and quality medical care has never been greater, and that extends to the pet care industry as well. Answering this growing demand is EZ Vet Station, LLC which has opened another location for their “mini-clinic” style veterinary pet care stations. Their newest location inside the Pet Supplies Plus store in Clearwater, Florida offers evening and weekend hours and walk-in appointments. The emergence of “retail healthcare”, offering medical care services inside a retail environment, is a concept that is quickly expanding in the human health care arena. EZ Vet plans to extend this convenient and affordable health care model into the pet industry.
EZ Vet Pet Care Stations are non- emergency compact “kiosk-style” veterinary clinics staffed with licensed Veterinarians and vet assistants that can diagnose and treat a wide variety of pet medical conditions related to teeth, ears, skin, eyes, weight, digestion, diet and parasites, in addition to offering routine services such as vaccines and microchipping. EZ Vet Stations offer a wide range of diagnostic and preventive pet care services designed to keep pets healthy. Consistent with the “mini-clinic” concept they do not offer surgery or emergency care. The EZ Vet Station in Clearwater is the second station in Florida, the first located in the Pet Supplies Plus store in Pinellas Park, Florida.
A recent survey indicates a real need for more convenient and affordable pet health care. 57% of those surveyed expressed they postponed pet care due to the high cost of care, and 60% surveyed indicated they wait anywhere from 3 days to more than 4 weeks for a veterinary appointment. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) emphasizes that a key element to a healthy pet is preventative medical care and early detection of illnesses through routine examinations with a veterinarian. The EZ Vet Station provides an innovative solution to delivering quality routine pet exams, preventive pet care, valuable diagnostic services, and beneficial pet prescriptions, products and services- all in the convenience of a local pet store. Veterinarian and founder of EZ Vet Station, LLC, Barry Goldberg, DVM, stated,” I believe that this will increase access to affordable and quality healthcare for thousands of pets in the local community. Helping pets live longer and healthier lives is what it’s all about.”
EZ Vet Station’s tag line is Save time! Save Money! They support this motto by offering affordable vaccinations, examinations and diagnostic fees inside the neighborhood pet store. They offer Wellness packages that include annual pet vaccinations, heart worm test, intestinal parasite test and preventive (round/hook worm) at reduced prices. Save time with walk-in visits and online appointment scheduling options. EZ Vet Station’s successful launch has clients begging for more prompting a recent announcement of plans to expand into other communities across the nation.
Of 1,000 people tested, more people are considering their dogs as part of their family and are also referring to them as children. Here are some of the results:
- Nearly 60 percent say that their dogs play a different role than the dogs of their childhood
- 54 percent call themselves “pet parents” instead of “pet owners”
- 58 percent have nicknames for themselves, such as “mommy” and “daddy”
- 35 percent call their dog their “son” or “daughter”
- 62 percent of the dogs have their own chair, sofa, or bed
- 81 percent of dog parents know their pets’ birthdays
- 77 percent have celebrated their pets’ birthday by buying him or her a birthday present
- 23 percent of pet parents have a photo album dedicated to only pictures of their dogs
- 16 percent have started scrapbooks for their pets
- 71 percent of pet owners admit that they have at least one picture of their dog that they carry with them
“Veterinarians once characterized as the mechanics of livestock, are now considered the pediatricians of fur babies.”
It’s important to talk to your vet about what you can do to keep your best friend happy and healthy. Here are some questions to ask at your next checkup. And remember, if you ever have a specific question or concern about your pet’s health, an EZ Vet Veterinarian is happy to answer your questions.
- Is my dog at the right weight?
- Is it time for a dental cleaning?
- What vaccinations does my dog need?
- Are there things I can do to keep my dog even healthier?
- What’s the best way to deal with fleas, ticks and other parasites?
Learn more about EZ Vet services. CLICK HERE