Meridian Star Pet Column: Healthy Pets Need Vets

February 15, 2011
Healthy Pets Need Vets
By: Ashley Owen Hill, guest columnist

MERIDIAN — A healthy pet is a happy pet, or so the saying goes. But what makes a pet healthy? Food and water are obvious, and most people have these two needs covered. (For those who don’t provide these basic necessities, I have some choice words for you, but we’ll cover that another time.)

    Vet care is every bit as important to your pet’s health as food and water, but the average pet owner has very little understanding of these vetting needs.

  “You mean to tell me I have to take my dog to the vet?! Every year?? What in the world for?!”

  Well, I’ll tell you.

  Vet care is a critical aspect to ensuring the health of your pet. It’s true that vetting can be expensive, and most of us aren’t living at the Ritz Carlton with loaded bank accounts. But by taking preventative measures for your pet’s health, you’ll actually reduce the number of potential pet expenses down the road.

Every pet should have an annual exam by a veterinarian. This visit should include a minimum of: a physical examination, annual boosters, heartworm test, and deworming. At this visit, monthly heartworm preventative and flea and tick products should be purchased, and given every month thereafter. It’s extremely important to remember these monthly doses of preventative. Do not forget! I may be a completely ridiculous person who loses her keys 5 times a day, but I never forget these meds.

    Vaccinations are one of the most essential elements of pet health. Core vaccinations should be administered annually, given as a combination vaccine and a separate rabies vaccine.

For dogs, this will include canine distemper, adenovirus cough and hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus (DHPP). Puppies 6 to 16 weeks of age should receive an initial series of 3 DHPP vaccinations administered 4 weeks apart. Unvaccinated dogs over 16 weeks should receive 2 DHPP vaccinations given 3 to 4 weeks apart.

    Your dog will need yearly boosters for DHPP and rabies. Also, a bordetella vaccination is required for boarding at a kennel like Lucky Dog Retreat!

    In cats, the suggested core vaccines are feline panleukopenia (distemper), feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus, and rabies. Kittens need core vaccinations every 2 to 4 weeks until 14 weeks of age. For unvaccinated cats over 14 weeks, vaccinate and booster in 3 weeks, then annually. Rabies vaccine should also be administered annually.

    Spaying or neutering your pet is another critical element to ensuring optimum health, because altered pets have longer life spans. Unspayed females have a greater likelihood of developing mammary tumors or uterine infections, while unneutered males can have behavioral problems. Consult with your vet for more information.

    We must educate ourselves about pet care, because our pets are unable to tell us what they need (okay, my dog can totally talk, but most pets cannot). Yearly vet exams and monthly preventative treatments will help ensure a healthy, happy pet, who will be around to bark or meow for many years to come.
    Ashley Owen Hill is the owner of Lucky Dog Retreat, 8659 Hillview Dr, Meridian. Email her at  Ashley@luckydogretreatmeridian.com. Follow her blog at  http://www.luckydogrescueblog.blogspot.com/.



  1. Vaccinations are one of the most essential elements of pet health. Core vaccinations should be administered annually, given as a combination vaccine and a separate rabies vaccine.Canine Cataracts


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