Domestication is one of the defining traits behind being human, it has lead to innovations in hunting, agriculture, as well as being an indication of social status. It is believed that dogs were domesticated over 14,700 years ago as indicated by archaeological evidence in the form of dog remains buried alongside human remains. Cats on the other hand were not domesticated until around 9,500 years ago — perhaps this explains their independent nature when compared to dogs. In total across the United States there are 46,300,000 households who own dogs and 38,900,000 households who own cats. Here are three ways to ensure the health and happiness of your furry friends this holiday season.
Vaccines and Regular Check-Ups
Just like humans, the topic of animal health is a complicated and specialized field that requires regular patient check-ups to stay on top of. Animals require basic vaccinations to help safeguard them against devastating sickness and disease; it is recommended that pet parents bring their kitten or puppy in for vaccines every three to four weeks until the pet is 16 weeks old. For older pets, veterinarians suggest check-ups at least twice per year. The dental health of your pet is just as important as recent studies find that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of dental disease by age three that can lead to abscesses, loose teeth, and chronic pain. As a pet parent, also remember that you have a number of veterinary options available; do not settle for a vet that makes you or your pet feel uncomfortable as there are likely friendlier veterinary options in your area.
One of the most common problems for pets is the parasitic infection of fleas. Not only do biting fleas make your pet miserable, they are often also a pathway for infectious diseases including Bartonella infection, cat scratch disease, and a surprising number of others. Each female flea can lay up to 2,000 eggs over the course of her lifetime, meaning that one flea could easily turn into a devastating outbreak if not treated soon. Fleas have four life stages: the egg, larva, pupa, and biting adult stages; unsurprisingly some treatments that affect one stage of life may prove ineffective against other stages. Moreover, a flea can actually live more than 100 days without a blood meal and can jump up to 8 inches high; that is approximately 150 times its own height. The resilience of the flea make it a worthy adversary that requires a number of veterinary options to defeat properly.
One of the most common and fatal conditions for dogs and cats is the presence of heartworms in the heart and lungs. While infected dogs are known to have up to 30 or more heartworms infesting their lungs and heart, an infected cat is more likely to have six or less worms; unlike dogs where the number of worms is indicative to the severity of the infection, one or two worms will be enough to make a cat seriously ill. Heartworm veterinary surgery procedures can cost up to $1,000; for this reason many pet parents save money by taking preventative heartworm measures in the form of monthly medication. Young puppies and kittens can be started on heartworm medication without the need for testing; any animal older than six months will require clinical testing before starting a medication program however. By taking proactive steps towards the health of your pet, not only can you help ensure they have happier, healthier lives but you can also avoid the likelihood to require emergency vet services in the future; count on your local veterinary options.