For my family and me, going to the doctor is just another family outing. My last visit with my daughter to the pediatrician was a breeze for her. The nurse practitioners came in to take a blood sample and she stuck her arm out and very bravely gave it to them without a single whimper! Any other time there, she usually enjoys running around the exam room without her clothes on waiting for the doctor to examine her.
My son, on the other hand, loves his dentist. He is thrilled to get his teeth cleaned and watches cartoons the entire time. He then gets a delicious fluoride treatment, a new toothbrush and toothpaste to go home with him.
Going to the doctor is easy for us because I believe we have very carefully chosen the best doctors who will provide us with the best medicine and make us feel welcome and at ease while in their office. We very willingly go every six months for our dental cleanings, every year for our checkups, and we get the necessary screening tests that the doctors recommend. My husband and I take care of our family by eating a balanced diet, by exercising regularly and sticking to a daily personal hygiene routine.
A dental procedure is performed at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic.
Most Americans feel the same way about their own health. So why not provide the same care for our pets? Our pets are a part of the family and they deserve the same care.
Preventive medicine refers to measures taken to prevent disease. Our pets' preventive medicine should begin when first acquiring a pet. Your veterinarian should do a full physical exam on any new pet to screen for any underlying health issues or congenital conditions as many breeders guarantee the health of their puppies or kittens. From there, preventive medicine includes monthly checkups and a series of vaccinations starting at 6 weeks of age to prevent the pet from getting different diseases that are still very prevalent in our community. One disease that can lead to severe illness and death in young puppies is parvovirus which can be very easily prevented by just a simple vaccination.
In our pets, preventive medicine also helps protect the pets' human owners. Routine fecal examinations and dewormings will not only keep your pet healthy, but will protect people and children from acquiring parasites that can be transmitted to people. By rabies vaccinating your cats and dogs (New York state law) you are protecting humans from acquiring the deadly rabies virus. It is important to rabies vaccinate your cats as well even if they are indoors. It is not uncommon for a bat to get into your home that might be carrying the deadly rabies virus.
Spaying and neutering your pet is another form of preventive medicine. Neutering your male pet prevents unwanted behaviors such as urine marking, aggression, and straying. It also prevents future prostate problems and testicular cancer. Spaying your female pet prevents unwanted pregnancies, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine infections.
Preventive medicine for your pet from this time forward should include routine yearly physical examinations, fecal and heartworm testing, monthly flea, tick, and heartworm preventative, necessary dental cleanings and home dental care. Pets need dental care, too! Periodontal disease is the most common form of dental disease which is an accumulation of tartar along the gumline leading to loose abscessed teeth, systemic infections, heart and kidney disease. It is important to provide home dental care which might include dental treats, daily brushings, mouth rinse, and dental diets.
If all of these efforts do not help to control the tartar, then your pet may need routine yearly dental cleanings while under anesthesia. This includes scaling the teeth with an ultrasonic scaler, polishing the teeth, and a fluoride treatment. Radiographs should be taken as needed and loose infected teeth should be extracted with a high speed dental drill.
Preventive medicine in the senior years for your pet should include bi-yearly physical examinations, fecal exams, heartworm testing, and diagnostic tests to screen for any underlying diseases. This may include chest X-rays and EKGs to screen for any underlying heart disease, routine blood tests to check for anemia, underlying infections, diabetes, liver, kidney, thyroid, or pancreatic disease, urine tests, and abdominal ultrasound to look at all the organs systems. Many times, we catch a disease in the early stages and are able to start your pet on the necessary treatment to give them the best quality of life for the rest of their years.
For the month of February, the Dunkirk Animal Clinic is focusing on dental health for your pet. February is National Pet Dental Health Month and we are providing a discount on dental cleanings and all of our dental products. Call us today at 366-7440 for more information and check out our website www.dunkirkanimalclinic.com for an informative video on how to brush your pet's teeth!
Dr. Rebekah Frost is a veterinarian at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic. Send comments on this column to firstname.lastname@example.org