Pet Wellness

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Sometimes referred to as pet health, pet wellness refers to the care of common household pets including but not limited to dogs, fish, cat, birds, and reptiles like lizards, with strong focus on prevention and treatment of conditions and diseases that can affect them at any point in their lives.

Although there’s no strong data on the number of pets in US households, it’s estimated that more than 37%of households own a dog while at least 30% have cats. In 2012, over 8 million people2 had birds like ferrets while 4.8 million owned horses.

Animal wellness is important for both pets and their human companions:

  • It helps improve the overall health of pets, making sure they are able to live as long as they can.
  • Some pets are necessary to humans as they provide medical assistance and other types of support.
  • It can promote reduction in veterinary expenses. In 2011 alone, vet expenses3 were significantly higher than expenditures on residential landline phones and alcohol.
  • It encourages quality of life for pets, particularly if they already suffer from old age or terminal illness.
  • It mitigates common pet risks and detects potentially serious illnesses afflicting pets early.
  • It prevents spread of diseases among other pets or animals, as well as humans.

Common Pet Health Concerns

While pet health needs can vary widely, they can also share similar illnesses or conditions. Regardless, pet owners should learn more about common diseases that affect their companions to ensure they can provide the most ideal pet wellness care.

Dog

The main concerns on dog health are dependent on many factors such as size and breed. In a 2011 study4 involving more than 80 breeds observed over a span of 20 years, large dogs like golden retrievers generally have a shorter life span than their smaller counterparts. They are also more likely to die from cancer and diseases affecting their musculoskeletal system such as arthritis. However, smaller dogs have a higher chance of developing metabolic-related diseases including heart conditions.

Dogs can also be prone to viral exposure, which can prove to be fatal. These include rabies5 and distemper. The rabies virus, in particular, is zoonotic, which means it can be passed on from animals to humans through exposure to infected animal saliva. Canine distemper, meanwhile, has about 50% mortality rate6 and is almost always deadly when discovered at later stages.

Cat

When it comes to cat health, one of the deadliest cat diseases in the world is feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)7, which impacts the cat similarly as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) does for humans. The major difference is that the viral strains are species specific, which means FIV cannot be transmitted by cats to humans. Low-risk cats have at least a 5% chance of acquiring FIV, but it goes higher if the cats live in more urban areas and if they are allowed to spend more time outside where they can interact with the other cat populations.

Cat scratch disease is a zoonotic condition that results to swollen and painful lymph nodes8 near the cat scratch or bite, fever, and exhaustion. In very rare cases, it can lead to life-threatening complications. Cats can also develop gum diseases including periodontitis, obesity, diabetes, worms, kidney disease, and UTI.

Horse

Viral infections are very common among horses, and their health impacts can vary depending on the severity of the disease and overall health condition of the horse (e.g., if the mare is pregnant). Some of the typical viral equine infections are influenza, anemia, and equine herpes virus (EHV), which can be fatal among pregnant mares and their foals. Some types of viruses can affect other animals and even humans like tetanus, rabies, and West Nile virus.

Horses can also die or suffer from a disability due to injuries, and these are more common among racehorses or thoroughbreds. Fortunately, the rate of mortality due to injury9 has gone down by 14% in 2015.

Fish 

Fishes are normally afflicted with bacterial or viral infections such as fish ich, as well as rot of the mouth, fin and tail, and dropsy. They can also acquire flukes, lice, and worms. Most of these diseases, however, are influenced by external factors such as poor quality of water, other fish within the aquarium, temperature, and fluctuations of pH and not necessarily the health of the fish itself. Mortality rate among fish species is very high10at 75% especially during the first year in captivity

Reptiles

Reptiles, as well as amphibians, can transmit a number of potentially life-threatening diseases to humans11. Thus, keeping them as pets requires very serious considerations. One of the most common zoonotic conditions is salmonellosis, wherein the bacteria can live in the gut of these animals and be contracted by humans through physical contact with the reptiles and amphibians. While many survive the infection, salmonellosis can be serious among high-risk individuals including children, old people, and those who already have suppressed or low immunity.

Diagnosis, Prevention, Treatment

Pet health or pet wellness doesn’t guarantee that these animals will no longer be free of diseases. However, it can significantly reduce the risk and is an effective measure for treatment and, better yet, prevention of these health conditions.

  • Diagnosis

Just like humans, pets also need regular visits to the veterinary clinic or pet wellness hospital12. The frequency of the pet test can vary depending on the health of the pet, as well as the kind of animal and dog/cat symptoms, but it’s recommended that they see a professional veterinarian at least twice a year. This is a good way to have the pets tested early for potential illnesses and to receive valuable pet health information directly from the vet.

Pet owners can also use diagnostic tests such as Perfect Pet Fecal Worm Detection Test Kit13, which checks for presence of different types of worms in pets. These worms can live in pets even if they don’t show dog/cat symptoms. As an aid to animal wellness, the test should be conducted four times per year. Results are available within 24 hours after the sample has been received by the lab.

  • Prevention

Here are some of the most effective ways to promote disease prevention among animals:

    • Provide them with regular vaccinations and make sure their vaccines are updated. Rabies vaccine, for example, is given to the animals once a year.
    • Deworm dogs and cats regularly - usually every 6 months.
    • When you see signs that your pet is sick, isolate it immediately.
    • Pay attention to any dog/cat symptoms of disease.
    • Exercise dogs, cats, and horses regularly. However, if they are already showing dog/cat illness symptoms, it’s best to ask for exercise recommendations from the vet to avoid harming the animals further.
    • Give them the right diet. Feed them with food that’s designed primarily for the animals.
    • Follow a good feeding schedule to avoid metabolic diseases such diabetes in dogs/cats or UTI in cats/dogs.
    • Provide them with a hygienic environment.
    • Know the risks for the animals. For example, outdoor cats and dogs are more likely to die faster than the indoor pets. In this case, it’s best to keep the pets indoors most of the time or let them go out only when supervised.
    • Understand their nutrition needs, especially when they already have dog/cat health issues.
    • Ensure pet test.
    • Use a pet symptom checker.
  • Treatment

The kind of treatment provided by a pet health hospital depends on the actual injury or condition, as well as the overall health of the pet. Thus, it can be immediate, short term, or long term.

  • In immediate care, which usually happens when the pet is bleeding, direct pressure is applied to the wound. The primary objective is to stop the blood loss.
  • The possible wound area is cleaned and any hair clipped.
  • The vet can then decide what to do with the wound, which may include removing certain tissues, releasing buildup of abscess, or treating it with technology such as laser.
  • The vet may then provide certain medications such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory tablets to speed up the healing.

Current Pet Health News

How to Treat Your Pet’s Summer Bug Bites, Stings14Summer can be a precursor to exposure to painful stings and bites that may inflict pain and disease on the pets. This article shows how to treat them.

Distemper Confirmed in Local Dogs15 – Two distemper cases have prompted the local vets to remind owners to update their dogs’ vaccination. 

 

Sources

1 http://www.aspca.org/animal-homelessness/shelter-intake-and-surrender/pet-statistics

2 https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Statistics/Pages/Market-research-statistics-US-pet-ownership.aspx

3 http://www.bls.gov/opub/btn/volume-2/pdf/spending-on-pets.pdf

4 http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/canine-mortality-20-year-study-dog-breeds-diseases-death-rates

5 http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/

6 http://www.2ndchance.info/dogdistemper.htm

7 http://icatcare.org/advice/cat-health/feline-immunodeficiency-virus-fiv

8 http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/diseases/cat-scratch.html

9 http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/210085/equine-fatality-rate-down-14-in-2015

10 http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2009/12/fish2

11http://www.merckvetmanual.com/pethealth/exotic_pets/reptiles/special_considerations_for_reptiles.html

12 http://www.banfield.com/preventive-care/banfield-prevention

13https://livewelltesting.com/tests-by-category/perfect-pet-fecal-worm-home-detection-test-kit-all-animals/

14http://www.newsmax.com/Health/Health-News/pet-stings-bug-bites/2016/07/07/id/737622/

15http://www.pntonline.com/2016/07/26/distemper-confirmed-local-dogs/

 

For Further Reading

http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/

http://pets.webmd.com/features/your-pet-veterinarian

http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions

http://www.medicinenet.com/pets/pet-health/end_of_life_care_for_pets_faq.htm