By Dr. Gary Borgman
In a perfect world we would all fare better if we could somehow greatly reduce or totally prevent the preventable diseases and conditions of both mankind and our pets. Of course that is not the case. Veterinarians devote a lot of their time and efforts in the daily practice of preventative medicine, through one on one education to pet owners. There is no shortage of educational materials in the press, on the internet, in books, and of course word of mouth. After 42 years of practicing companion animal medicine and surgery in Florida, we still see too many cases of preventable maladies so we’ll list and discuss some of the more common preventable conditions seen.
- Pet obesity remains the most common nutritionally based medical condition. We always assign a body condition score to pets when examined. Although hypothyroidism or other hormonal imbalances can be at play, it is almost always a human behavioral issue. Unlimited access to dry food is the primary cause. Humans who consider their pet as family often feed human food and snacks with the same results these same foods can cause in humans.
- Dental disease and the resulting adverse effects on oral, heart, kidney, and liver health remain a very common clinical problem. There are specific foods, snacks, and oral hygiene practices which can be helpful. As with humans, many household pets need regular professional cleaning (scaling, polishing and oral surgery). We offer complimentary dental examinations to dogs and cats (as long as the Rabies vaccine is current).
- We should emphasize that Florida Law and county ordinances mandate a current Rabies vaccine for all dogs and cats. If an unvaccinated dog or cat bites or scratches a human, the pet will be placed into quarantine at the animal shelter. Very few people contract and die from Rabies in the United States, but the disease is out there, mostly in wild raccoons or feral cats. Other mammals in the wild can also transmit Rabies.
- Canine Distemper and Parvo virus are an ever present threat to dogs. Vaccinations are very effective. Leptospirosis (a zoonotic kidney disease, also transmittable to humans) is mostly preventable through vaccination. Fortunately we do not have the threat of Lyme disease in our area but we do vaccinate dogs traveling to the areas of the country where the deer ticks are found. Bordatella and Parainfluenza are two more diseases that can be prevented through vaccinations.
- Our feline patients also need Rabies vaccination per law and ordinance, even if they are indoors. Feline Panleukopenia (a Parvo virus), feline upper respiratory viruses, and Feline Leukemia virus are also preventable diseases through vaccinations.
- Canine Heartworm disease in a serious threat, which is preventable with monthly medication. Cats also can get Heartworm disease but the risk is much lower than for dogs.
- Finally, we should mention flea and tick infestation. Fortunately we have many very effective products to control and mostly prevent infestations. There are now a number of products which prevent, control and eliminate many of the intestinal parasites so common to our warm, moist climate.
The veterinarians and staff of Kissimmee Animal Hospital (Tel 407-846-3912) and Poinciana Pet Clinic (Tel 407-518-0880) are available to answer your questions about preventable conditions of our dogs and cats. We are here to help and to serve.