Back in 2004, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) started Pet Wellness Month along with Fort Dodge Animal Health. The purpose of the campaign, which has been held each October for the past 12 years, is to educate people on the pet aging process and the importance of preventive care exams. According to the AVMA, dogs and cats age at a rate that is five to seven times that of humans. It recommends bi-annual wellness visits for this very reason.
At the very least, senior pets over the age of seven should come in twice a year for a check-up. This is the time when Dr. Palmquist starts looking for age-related issues such as arthritis, diabetes, hip dysplasia, and kidney disease. Although younger pets can develop these conditions as well, they are much more prevalent in the senior population. Puppies and kittens also need to be seen more often than once a year. This is necessary to monitor their growth and get them started on a vaccine schedule.
What to Expect at Your Pet’s Preventive Care Exam
State and federal laws require dogs and cats to have certain vaccinations. For dogs, these include canine adenovirus, canine parvovirus, distemper, and rabies. Required vaccines for cats include feline calicivirus, feline panleukopenia, rabies, and rhinotracheitis. You also have the options of several optional vaccines, such as Lyme disease and feline leukemia. Dr. Palmquist considers your pet’s species, age, general health, lifestyle, and unique risk factors when recommending specific non-core vaccines.
In addition to checking vaccine status and administering original vaccines or boosters, the preventive care exam is the ideal time to discuss protection from parasites. Preventing your pet from being infested with fleas, ticks, heartworms, or other common parasites is much better than having to treat them after the fact. We also inspect the following areas on your pet:
Urinary tract to spot any infections
The nose and eyes to look for allergy symptoms
The condition of the coat and skin
Legs, paws, and paw pads
Stomach to determine any gastrointestinal problems
This is not an all-inclusive list, but gives you a good idea of the type of head-to-tail exam you can expect at Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic. If we spot any areas of concern, we will let you know the plan of action to diagnose and treat it. We know you love your pet and want to see him or her live a long and healthy life. Our staff is happy to help you achieve that goal.
Photo Credit: Jupiter Images / Getty Images
How Do Dogs and Cats Develop Rabies?
Your pet acquires rabies through contact with the saliva of an infected animal. When domesticated pets get the disease, it is typically due to being bitten by a bat, coyote, fox, raccoon, or skunk. Dogs and cats who live near wooded areas or who are allowed to roam outdoors without supervision are at the highest risk of being bitten by an infected wild animal. Keeping up-to-date on your pet’s vaccine schedule and limiting unsupervised time outdoors are the best ways to lower the risk of acquiring rabies.
Common Symptoms of Rabies
Most dogs and cats display the first symptoms of rabies two to eight weeks after contact with an infected wild animal. These include:
Foaming at the mouth
Jaw and throat paralysis
Increased biting, chewing, or licking of the skin
Pain when someone touches them
Prevention: Because Rabies Has No Cure or Treatment
If we confirm rabies in your pet, he or she should be euthanized as soon as possible. This not only prevents needless suffering, it also protects other people and pets from getting the disease. You also need to contact the Burnett County Health Department to report the rabies diagnosis.
Wisconsin state law requires that all pets be fully immunized against rabies. At Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic, we give the first round of vaccinations at four months of age for puppies and kittens. The cost is just $19. We also provide boosters and can get your pet caught up on the rabies vaccination if necessary. Our veterinarians have had two bats test positive for rabies within the past few years, so the danger is ever present.
Photo Credit: Jarun011 / Getty Images