Prevention, maintenance and treatment to keep your pet in tip-top health might not require as much work as you thought. New technologies, best practices and other healthcare advances are continually helping pets stay healthier while saving you time and effort. If you haven’t had a conversation with your pet’s healthcare provider lately, here are a few topics to ask about.
If your heart belongs to a dog, you’ve probably invested in your beloved pooch’s cardiac organ. The need for preventing worms from living in your dog’s (and occasionally your cat’s) heart is an essential you’ve likely heard about from your veterinarian, and for good reason.
“In some instances, an undetected case of heartworms can be fatal to your companion animals,” said Dr. Lynn Lawhon, veterinarian at Brookhollow Animal Clinic. “Treatment for heartworms is rigorous and expensive. But here’s the good news: heartworms are really easy to prevent. And heartworm prevention has become increasingly convenient for pet owners.”
When Lawhon began practice, more than 41 years ago, heartworm prevention required a daily chewable tablet. Next, a revolutionary product became available that only required a monthly tablet, and that, or perhaps a 3-month version, is what many pet owners still use today. But advances in prevention continue to increase convenience, Lawhon said, and an injectable product can protect your dog for six months.
“How easy is that?” Lawhon said. “You simply visit your veterinarian twice a year, have a quick injection, and your dog is well protected.”
This deadly virus might be one of the most well-known preventable illnesses for pets, and a yearly vaccine is assumed as the standard and also the law. But is that a misconception?
“Most people think that veterinarians establish the rules for the prevention of rabies in their pets,” Lawhon said. “That’s not true. Rabies control in companion animals in Texas is mandated by a state law called The Rabies Control Act.”
The Rabies Control Act law aims to prevent the virus from being transmitted to people, and initially the law required pets to be vaccinated annually. However, it’s since been amended, and under certain circumstances, your pet might only need to receive a rabies immunization every three years, Lawhon said.
“Not only does that save you money, there is evidence that it may be safer for your pet,” he said.
Some municipalities in Texas do still require annual rabies vaccinations, however, and some veterinary practices still require it annually, so check with your vet and your city. Abilene’s ordinances require that pets be current on vaccinations but do not require anything beyond the state law.
“The three year vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective,” Lawhon said. “Have a candid conversation with your vet if they insist upon a rabies vaccine every year. It isn’t the law!”
Pain & Mobility
Although you might visit a chiropractor for your own aches, pain and stiffness, did you know your pet has that option as well? Dr. Chase Ratliff at Chimney Rock Animal Hospital has been performing adjustments on a variety of animals (horses, cattle, sheep, dogs, and cats) for the past three years.
“Many people are surprised when they learn that they can take their animal to a chiropractor,” Ratliff said. “However, I have been able to help manage pain in a lot of small and large animals.”
Clients asked Ratliff about it as a treatment option a few years ago, and after some research, he found Parker College in Dallas, which offers a course to both Doctors of Veterinary Medicine and Doctors of Chiropractic (human) that prepares them to become certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association to perform adjustments on animals.
Now Ratliff holds that certification, and he performs adjustments on his animal clientele on a daily basis, primarily to keep animals as pain free as possible. The chiropractic care is often in conjunction with prescription pain relievers and anti-inflammatories but can be a stand-alone treatment for pets who aren’t able to take medicine. Adjustments can also help with performance and agility in show dogs or horses and cattle.
Might your pet benefit from chiropractic care? Ratliff offers a few symptoms to consider:
- Difficulty or slow to get up from a laying position, or taking a long time to find a comfortable position to rest.
- Not wanting to play as much, turning into a couch potato.
- Refusing to go up or down stairs or jump up onto objects.
- Becoming less social with people or other animals, even potentially snapping.
- Any limping or abnormality in their gait.
By Wendy Kilmer