Why routine preventative care for your pet is essential

Panting dog laying in grass

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.

“Just because it’s routine doesn’t mean it’s not essential,” Animal Humane Society’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Graham Brayshaw, noted. The health issues your pet could encounter without routine care are nothing to sneeze at.

It's easy to skip a year, especially when you face challenges in scheduling your pet's appointment. Veterinarians across the country are still managing an increase in demand for services while trying to meet that demand with less staff. It may be six weeks or more until you're able to see your veterinarian, so now is a great time to call the clinic and confirm your pet's annual appointment.

March (National Pet Vaccination Month) is a good time to restart your preventative treatment routine if you took a break over winter. Warmer months introduce parasites, fleas, and ticks back into our environment. So if you haven't already, call your veterinarian now to ensure you have an appointment scheduled before summer arrives.

Keep your pet happy and healthy by focusing on these three areas of preventative care.

AHS vet staff with cat

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 summer, 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 recommended year-round 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.

AHS Vet Centers

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.

AHS partners with Boehringer Ingelheim — the makers of Frontline, NexGard, and HeartGard — to treat the animals in our shelters. These preventative treatments are a key part of maintaining the overall health of your pet. Sign up to receive discounts on Frontline, NexGard, and HeartGard products.

Don’t have a vet or looking for a more affordable alternative?

Animal Humane Society also offers high-quality, low-cost wellness services at our Golden Valley and St. Paul clinics. You can also search a listing of local veterinary clinics here.