Preventative care for your pet is critical to maintaining their overall health and avoiding unwanted and even life-threatening illness. In most cases, preventative care requires a routine visit to your vet to complete a wellness exam, get needed vaccinations, treat or test for potential parasites, and receive prescription medications.
The importance of regular wellness visits hasn’t changed, even though many veterinary care providers have limited their services due to mandatory guidelines related to COVID-19.
“Just because it’s routine doesn’t mean it’s not essential,” Animal Humane Society’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Graham Brayshaw, noted. In fact, veterinary care is considered an essential service under our current stay-at-home order.
To help keep your pet happy and healthy, here are three areas of preventative care to stay focused on.
Priority routine care
1. Protect your pet from fleas and ticks
If you’ve never had to deal with a flea infestation or pluck a plump tick from your pet’s skin, consider yourself lucky. If, on the other hand, you’re like most people and have experienced either, you know how awful either activity can be.
Fleas are the most common parasite found on pets. They not only cause skin irritation, but can also transmit other parasites, like tapeworms, cause anemia in puppies and kittens, and infest your home. Ticks are hardy parasites that can transmit several diseases, including Lyme disease, to dogs and people.
Fleas and ticks are highly prevalent throughout Minnesota ― and with the extra time you may be spending outside with your pet this month, it’s even more important to protect against these pests. The good news is both are easily preventable with topical or oral flea and tick medications. Year-round treatment is recommended.
2. Prevent heartworm and other parasites
Heartworm can be fatal in pets, and treating animals with heartworm disease is expensive, painful for your pet, and time-consuming. But, thankfully, heartworm is 100% preventable.
Heartworm preventative is prescribed by your veterinarian. It not only helps prevent life-threatening heartworm infections, but it also kills and protects against other pesky parasites that can affect people too ― like hookworms and roundworms.
Like flea and tick protection, heartworm prevention is also recommended year-round (especially in Minnesota with our abundance of mosquitos!) and should be discussed with your veterinarian.
3. Keep current on vaccinations
Staying up-to-date on regular vaccinations is critical for humans and animals alike. A few prevalent viruses your veterinarian will vaccinate your pet for include rabies, parvo in dogs, and panleukopenia in cats. These viruses are often fatal in pets, and rabies can also affect humans ― so it’s important to stay on top of these vaccinations, among others.
Your vet may also recommend regularly treating your dog for kennel cough, Lyme disease, and/or leptospirosis depending on their specific level of risk.
Prevention is key
All of these topics and treatment plans can be discussed with your veterinarian during your regular wellness exam. If you’re not yet due for an exam, be sure you’re stocked with necessary preventatives and medications to treat your pet year-round. And if you’re not currently taking preventative measures against pests, parasites, and diseases ― now is a great time to start, especially as you spend more time outdoors with your pet.
Don’t have a vet or looking for a more affordable alternative? Animal Humane Society also offers high-quality, low-cost wellness services to eligible pet owners at our Melrose Animal Clinic in Golden Valley. Learn more about our eligibility requirements.