Newsletter Winter 2011

posted: by: GAH Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Topics:
Pet Health Insurance
Nutrition
Poison Control
     
Pet Health Insurance

Annual exams for all pets are very important in order to have a good baseline and diagnose medical problems as early as possible. A thorough physical examination should include the following: Body weight and general body condition assessment, cardiac exam, lymph gland palpation, abdominal palpation, dental health assessment, eye and ear assessment. A fecal exam to check for parasites should be done every year (some parasites are contagious to people). Older pets should be examined twice yearly as medical problems begin to occur more frequently. Yearly blood work and urine analysis is recommended for dogs and cats over the age of eight years.

Well care including annual examinations, vaccinations, parasite prevention and dental procedures should be included in the family budget.

Unexpected illnesses or injuries may lead to additional veterinary expenses. These medical issues may become quite costly, especially if your pet needs to be hospitalized, referred to a veterinary specialist or needs to go to an emergency hospital in the late evening hours. There are specialists for nearly every field of medicine and surgery. Many pet owners are opting bring their pet to a specialist when recommended by their veterinarian.

Veterinary pet insurance is very helpful in these situations. The pet must be insured ahead of time while there are no major pre existing medical problems, as these will not be covered for at least one year. Pet insurance is not extremely expensive, and a large portion of fees are reimbursed after submitting a report from the attending veterinarian.

The following is a website that compares several pet insurance companies:

www.petinsurancereview.com

Veterinary insurance may be purchased from several different companies. Most offer several choices in coverage, which will determine the monthly cost. I feel that it is very important to have insurance to cover unexpected problems. Coverage can be purchased for illnesses and injuries alone. Coverage for well care and dental care is also available at a higher cost. Some pet owners prefer this as well.

Most veterinarians do not accept payment from insurance companies. The fees are paid in full to the veterinarian and the pet owner is reimbursed by the pet insurance company.

The number of pets per household will be a consideration when deciding which level of insurance to purchase as cost per pet may become an issue.

Certain hereditary conditions may not be covered so check the policy to see the limitations.




Nutrition
Dogs are omnivores. They eat meat, grains and vegetables. Cats are carnivores. In the wild they eat only meat. For this reason, cat foods are much higher in animal protein than dog foods. There are now some brands of cat food that contain no grain, and are up to fifty percent protein.

I am frequently asked if a pet's diet is a "good diet". There are several ways of answering this question. First, the diet should meet minimal standards for nutritional requirements. You can check this by inspecting the bag or can to make sure the diet meets the AAFCO testing requirements.

Next, the pet consuming this diet should have normal looking formed stools. The pet should have a healthy looking coat, although this can be affected by other health issues.

There are a lot of excellent diets and a lot of not so excellent diets that meets these requirements. Check the ingredients listed on the label. The protein source should be listed first (i.e. Chicken, beef, fish, pork, lamb etc...). Protein meal is ok but protein byproducts are not. Some companies make pet foods that are from organic sources, and some use no artificial preservatives. The fat added into the diet should be named (i.e. chicken, beef, pork or a specific oil). It should not be listed as animal fat.

Generally, a diet is considered adequate if it meets the minimum nutritional standards and the pet is a normal weight, has a nice coat and a solid stool.

That being said, a pets health may be improved if being fed a higher quality diet. There are some animals that do better on a standard commercial diet than an all natural type diet. Isolated ingredients in any diet may cause loose stools or skin allergies. Trial and error is the only way to see how your pet will respond. There are also diets that are formulated to prevent or decrease the risk genetic conditions in certain pure breed dogs. Ask your veterinarian about these diets. There are raw diets available, and some people feed home made raw diets. Due to the risk of bacterial and parasitic infections, I personally do not recommend feeding raw diets to pets.

When switching diets, always mix the new and old diet together. Start with a small amount of the new diet and gradually increase the amount. Do not rush the change. It should take at least one to two weeks.

Always feed adult pets two times daily. For a fifty pound dog, feed about one to one and one half cups per feeding. Avoid giving treats other than vegetables (carrots, bananas, apples). NO grapes or raisins. These are poisonous to dogs. Cats should also be fed two times daily. No more than one quarter cup of dry food per meal. If you are using canned food only, one half of a tuna fish sized can twice daily is the maximum amount. It is not recommended to let dogs or cats free feed. Obesity is serious problem in dogs and cats and can be prevented by controlled feeding.

Poison Control

800.312.6680 ($35.00 per call) or
www.petpoisonhelpline.com