The bonds between people and their pets far outweigh the health risks, says Fairfield veterinarian Kelly Palm of Cal West Pet Hospital. And when you maintain healthy pets, there is very little risk that they will pass on disease to their owners.
Keeping your animal friend healthy starts with an annual checkup, Dr. Palm says. Your dog or cat will benefit from a regimen of regular flea control, deworming, and a physical exam that can detect health problems early when they are easier to treat.
Keeping current on vaccinations is important for both cats and dogs, especially the rabies vaccine, because it is fatal if not treated (see page 15).
Dogs and cats share the same fleas and the fleas can travel from animal to animal. That’s why it’s important that all of your pets receive a monthly flea preventive. Flea bites do much more than cause the misery of itching. An extensive flea infestation can make your pet anemic, especially puppies and kittens. Fleas can pass tapeworms on to your pets, which can then be transferred to people through contact with feces. Fleas can also cause itching red bites on your skin.
When you maintain healthy pets, there is very little risk that they will transmit disease to their owners.
Keeping your pets dewormed will control not only tapeworms, but other worms that can pass from pet to human through contact with feces. “It’s especially important to deworm your kittens and puppies,” Dr. Palm says. “Puppies and kittens have the potential to be born with intestinal parasites and can also pick them up in their environment.” Thanks to modern medicine, your pets can easily be saved from the misery of fleas and worms. There are several safe products available from your veterinarian or over-the-counter that protect your pets from both.
Regular grooming is another way to maintain a healthy cat or dog. Some animals have thick coats that can mat or tangle easily. Matted hair can hide a variety of skin infections as well as mites and ticks. Your veterinarian can help rid your pet of matted fur, especially if the animal becomes hard to handle when you groom it. Keeping your pet’s nails trimmed can also help you avoid serious scratches.
Keep your animals and their living spaces clean. This includes regular cleaning of the cat’s litter box, washing pet beds and blankets, and refreshing dog houses. Clean up after your pet outdoors too, because feces can spread many diseases.
Spaying or neutering your pets can prolong their lives and keep them from roaming. In addition to preventing unwanted litters, castrating your pet helps it avoid disease as it ages. “A spayed or neutered pet is much easier to live with,” Dr. Palm adds. “They are calmer and quieter because their focus isn’t on finding a mate.”
When it comes to pets and disease, much of the responsibility falls on the owners who should provide their animals with good health in addition to lots of love.
Kelly Palm, D.V.M., is a graduate of the UC Davis School
of Veterinary Medicine. She has practiced in Fairfield for 20 years and is the shelter vet for the SPCA of Solano County. You can reach her office by calling (707) 425-0292.
SPCA Offers Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic
To help control animal overpopulation, the SPCA of Solano County offers a low-cost spay and neuter clinic at their Vacaville facility. Call (707) 448-8750 for information or visit www.solanospcaclinic.wordpress.com.