posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2016 in From the Mailbox of Dr. M
Frequently Asked Questions at a Visit to the Vet
Fall has officially arrived, and it is by far my favorite season. The cooler days and even cooler nights make for great weather to be outside. I love driving tractors during harvest, as well as, seeing other farmers and their families busy at work in the fields. Seeing pumpkin patch or apple orchard pictures pop up on social media, and not to mention football is back are some of my other favorites! (Unless you're a Cyclone fan, and then we are just appreciative of good tailgating and the thought basketball is just around the corner.) I could go on and on about all the things that make fall my absolute favorite, however, I'll spare you and move on to this month's blog post. This month, I'm doing a little Q & A session, with some of the most commonly asked questions I get as a vet.
My animal doesn't really go outside; do they need flea and tick prevention?
a. Fleas are the most common external parasite to infest our furry companions. They are ubiquitous in the environment- meaning they are EVERYWHERE, and they can live for as short as 13 days, or as long as 12 months out in the environment, and even longer in our homes! During this time, they are busy producing millions and millions of offspring. On top of this, they are extremely hard to detect, especially when you are not familiar with what they look like. It only takes seconds of being outside before fleas can hop onto your cat and dog, and voila- they have found themselves a new happy home. Not only can your pet bring them in on their fur, as humans we can bring them in on the bottom of our pant leg and from there they will go find their furry host indoors. Fleas prefer the hair coat and environment provided by the coat of our animals, therefore, we may not notice a flea problem until 1.) we see them on the cat/dog, or 2.) There is no longer a host to infest in the house, and they turn to biting us. Average cost for flea prevention is $12-$18 a month (most products also include tick prevention in the same dose,) whereas the cost to completely rid your home and TREAT your animal after a flea infestation can easily take 6 months to a year to perform and cost upwards of $700 or more. Another thing that flea infestations can cause is tapeworms, which can look like little white pieces of rice on the rear end of our cats and dogs. I could spend an entire post writing about fleas and the problems they cause, but I'll try and keep it short for today!
b. Ticks are very much along the same line of fleas, and can easily be a nuisance to our animals in just a matter of minutes. Though ticks may not cause the large number of infestation problems fleas do, they can cause other problems. One big problem that can occur in both humans and animals is Lyme Disease. This disease can be costly to treat up front, but also causes more concern for the possible long term side effects such as renal and liver dysfunction in left untreated. It is safe to say that being proactive and treating your animals for fleas and ticks BEFORE a problem arises not only saves you money, but could very well save your animal's life.
"Isn't there a shot for that?"
a. This is one of the most commonly asked questions for a variety of ailments I diagnose. Anything from a runny nose, to an open wound, it's not uncommon for people to ask if there is a shot to magically clear it up. Though I too wish there was an easier answer for curing our animals sometimes, the truth of the matter is that 99% of the time, there is not a magical one time shot that fixes our cat's and dog's problems. It is true that sometimes an injection can be used to help the healing process, but most of the time this is in conjunction with another medication or instructional technique.
Are all diets with grains in them bad for pets?
a. Nutrition and diets get to be one of those "grey" areas of veterinary medicine. Much like people, not all animals will respond the same to the same diets. Research has shown that some animals do in fact have sensitivity to different types of food ingredients, grains being one of them. Often times we see this expressed in terms of unformed stools, itchiness and irritation on the paws, as well as irritation around the eyes. A food elimination trial (which can take approximately 3 months if done correctly to see results,) is the way to assess if your pet has sensitivity to grains. Regardless of the food brand you buy, the important point is to make sure that you carefully examine the ingredients and read the reviews surrounding your choice. A commercially purchased diet is guaranteed to be balanced for the essential nutrients and minerals that our animals need. Homemade diets should be carefully analyzed by a certified animal nutritionist. Nutrient deficient diets can lead to many serious health affects if fed long term.
My pet doesn't leave my property, why would I need to vaccinate her?
a. The good old vaccine debate. Sometimes we need to stop and think of vaccinations and what they are important for in a big picture. Vaccines have done a great job of significantly lowering the incidence of such diseases as rabies in our domestic animal population; however, there is still a fair number of bats, raccoons, and skunks that can carry the disease here in the Midwest. Rabies vaccination isn't just an animal issue; it's a human welfare issue. Rabies is one of the diseases that CAN be passed between humans and animals. Just last month in Missouri, a kitten that had bitten 3 people tested positive for rabies, and 10 other people were exposed. Wildlife is everywhere, and with that, so is the chance for disease transmission. Another disease that wild animals can spread is Leptospirosis. This is a bacterial disease that is transmitted to an animal after coming into contact with the urine of an infected animal. A common way this happens is by our domesticated animals drinking standing water that wild animals urinated in. It is safe to say that vaccinating your pet, even if it is just the good old farm dog, has more benefit than most people realize.
I hope you all are having a safe fall! It is hard to believe I have been at AMVC for nearly 5 months! The time has flown by, and I look forward to what the future holds. Things have been keeping us exceptionally busy here at the clinic, but as always, we appreciate our clients, producers, and employees who make AMVC the great company we are!