This month, we’ve been looking at some of the parasites that can infest, bother and distress our pets. But that’s only part of Preventative Healthcare for animals, so in this blog we’re hoping to draw all the threads together and give you some idea of what the ideal preventative health plan for your pet would look like!
So what is Preventative Healthcare?
We can divide all health interventions into two categories – responsive healthcare, also known as treatment or fire brigade (!) work, kicks in when a problem occurs – a disease, illness or injury that needs to be treated.
Preventative healthcare, on the other hand, works to reduce the chances of the illness or disease occurring in the first place. In general, preventative healthcare is much more cost effective – because as always, prevention is better than cure.
What does it include?
There are 4 key aspects to preventative healthcare:
1) Maintain good health to PREVENT illness and disease
This encompasses things like providing a good, balanced diet, making sure your pet is a healthy weight, and keeping them fit and active. It could also include training, love and attention, to maintain good mental health and reduce the risk of behavioural problems. A healthy pet is more likely to be able to fight off illness, and has more reserves to help them cope with injury or disease, should they occur.
We could also include interventions like neutering here – for many dogs, cats and rabbits, neutering can prevent a wide range of diseases from developing. For example, a tomcat cannot develop testicular cancer if he hasn’t got testicles, and a bitch cannot develop a pyometra if her uterus has been removed.
2) PREVENT parasites
Unfortunately, good diet and a clean coat will not prevent parasitic infestations from developing. We recommend the use of antiparasitic medications to prevent the development of clinically significant infestations of fleas, mites, worms and other unpleasant visitors. These work by killing the parasites before they have a chance to damage your pet’s health, preventing the disease by killing the parasite. In some cases, they also act to prevent the parasites developing to the stage that can cause disease – for example, lungworm treatment and some flea environmental treatments will kill the immature parasites, before they develop to the disease-causing part of their life-cycle.
3) PREVENT infectious disease
While a healthy animal is more likely to survive infection with potentially lethal viruses or bacteria, initial good health does little to prevent infection in the first place. However, vaccination protocols can “prime” the immune system to seek and destroy the invading microbes before they can get a foothold in your pet’s system. Vaccination is one of the most important interventions in keeping your pet healthy, and we strongly recommend it for all our patients.
4) Early detection of disease to PREVENT it from getting worse
Of course, there are many, many other diseases that develop insidiously and subtly – like thyroid disorders, or heart disease, or kidney problems. Often owners don’t notice the initial, subtle, signs until the disease is quite advanced. Unfortunately, the more advanced and severe the disease, the harder it is to treat or manage.
However, our vets and nurses are highly trained and qualified in spotting these early signs, so regular check ups (we usually recommend every 6 months or so) can help to pick up the earliest stages of these conditions, often while they are still treatable, allowing us to get on top of them before they are more severe.
How can it be made more affordable?
While there is some outlay – flea and worm medications and vaccines all cost money, as do good quality food, and checkups with highly trained professionals – prevention will almost always save you more money than waiting and then having to treat!
We really believe in preventative healthcare, so we’ve set up the ProActive Pets scheme. Essentially, it’s a package covering all the key points we talked about above (except the exercise, play and training bit – that’s your job!). It includes all parasite prevention and vaccinations, regular check ups, as well as money off food, neutering, and a wide range of other services!
Do you want to know more?
Then check out the ProActive Pets page on our website – or just give us a ring and our staff can help you find the best plan for your pet, to keep them in tip-top condition all year round!