When your family includes a four-legged loved one, you vow to love them unconditionally, in sickness and in health—hoping for much more health than sickness. Keep your furry friend as healthy as can be with this go-to guide to animal wellness.
Calling the Shots
Vaccination is an important step in protecting your pets from common diseases, as well as from other unvaccinated animals. Dr. Ginny Bischel, of Eastlake Village Veterinary Clinic in Chula Vista, offers the following advice for inoculation:
Keep current. The most common vaccines boost immunities against rabies, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, and bordatella, commonly known as kennel cough. Your vet will determine a frequency schedule based on your pet’s age, lifestyle, and risk of exposure.
Follow the law. The rabies vaccine is state-mandated starting at 12 weeks of age, with a booster one year later and then a consistent schedule every three years.
Keep your pet’s lifestyle in mind. A rattlesnake vaccine is available, for example, but not likely necessary for an indoor pet.
Vaccinate before grooming and boarding. Facilities that provide services or care for many animals must protect against potential exposure. Be prepared to provide documentation of vaccination before receiving grooming services or boarding your pet for day care or vacations.
Remember other important tests. Test for heartworm and other parasites at the recommendation of your vet, especially if your pet has yet to receive preventive treatment against parasites.
In the Bag
Keep these handy items in a first-aid kit for at-home emergencies:
Pet first-aid book
Important phone numbers: your vet, an emergency clinic, and poison control
Your pet’s medical paperwork, a current photo, and copies of any prescriptions
Self-cling bandage that won’t stick to fur
A muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting
Basic first-aid supplies, such as gauze, tape, cotton, antiseptic wipes, and antibiotic ointment
Benadryl for allergic reactions
Medical scissors, tweezers, and nail clippers
Non-latex disposable gloves
A thermometer (your pet’s temperature should be between 100 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit)
A protective garment, like the Cover Me by Tui, for hotspots, allergies, and preventing post-surgical licking
For more info: humanesociety.org
Seeking the Alternative
Holistic medicine, an ever-growing field that consists of a wide variety of alternative or complementary therapies, focuses on the root of the problem instead of the acute symptom.
“Employing natural therapies helps to address the overall and comprehensive condition of the patient, and can assist the body to heal itself and correct the imbalance that leads to the problem,” explains Dr. Katie Kangas, a pet wellness educator and certified veterinary chiropractor and acupuncturist at the Animal Healing Center.
“Holistic therapies are a great adjunct to conventional medicine, and are often ultimately more effective, less expensive, and less invasive. In addition, most natural therapies have minimal risks or side effects.”
For more info: animalhealingcenter.net
with Dr. Sarah Vineyard of La Jolla Colony Veterinary Hospital
The first session normally takes one hour and includes a physical exam. Follow-up sessions typically last 20 to 30 minutes, with usually one to two treatments per week.
No anesthesia is used, although calming supplements can relieve anxiety.
Most common uses: pain and muscle spasms, arthritis, skin issues, and urinary problems.
Can be used to treat dogs, cats, and bunnies.
Follow these tips from Dr. Cynthia Mitchell, San Diego Humane Society Medical Director, to protect your pet:
Be consistent with preventive meds—type, dose, and frequency.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the many over-the-counter and prescription products. Work with your vet to find the right products for you and your pets.
Read and heed label warnings.
Four-Legged First Aid
San Diego Humane Society holds monthly first-aid classes in conjunction with the American Red Cross. The class covers treatments for choking or breathing difficulties, possible broken bones, shock, poisoning, snakebites, carsickness, heat- or cold-related illnesses, and more. For more info: sdhumane.org
Making the call
When to Seek Emergency Care
It’s the middle of the night and your pet is out of sorts or extremely ill. Worried pet parents have to make the call to either watch and wait, or seek out the nearest emergency clinic.
Get vet advice for everyday emergencies at your fingertips with the
American Red Cross Pet First Aid app, which offers content for both dogs and cats.