Pet Disease and Disorder Prevention

Published on November 5, 2018 by

Vet tech performing disease preventionPreventative care is cheaper than treating your pet’s disease or disorder. Early diagnosis and treatment is important for successful outcomes, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).  It is important to monitor a pet’s nutrition, get wellness exams and vaccinations and be proactive about your pet’s dental care.

Pet Nutrition and Disease Prevention

Good nutrition is important for dogs and cats to stay healthy. Nutritional requirements vary by breed, size, age and health. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends a balanced diet for cell maintenance and growth.

Pets have six types of nutrients including water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Water makes up to 70% of the adult pet’s weight. A small decrease in body water can lead to serious illness.

Proteins are the basic building blocks of cells, tissues, organs, enzymes, hormones and antibodies. Fats are used to supply energy and cell structure. Carbohydrates supply energy for pets. Vitamins are necessary in pets for metabolic functioning. Minerals help pets achieve strong bones and teeth. Many pets can’t process vitamins and minerals, so it is important to have a varying diet.

Importance of Wellness Exams

Veterinarian ask pet owners about the pet’s diet, lifestyle and general health during wellness exams. The veterinarian will also examine pets and take vitals. Based on the findings, the veterinarian may recommend specific vaccines, changes in diet, parasite medication, weight management and dental care.

Regular wellness exams are recommended to avoid health issues. The vet tech works with veterinarians to recommend wellness programs based on the pet’s breed, age, lifestyle and overall health. A wellness exam may also include blood tests, urinalysis, and parasite screening. It is recommended that most pets receive an annual wellness exam to identify any problems before they worsen.

Vaccinations and Preventative Care

Vaccinations are given to pets to strengthen their immune systems and fight future infections. They can lessen and prevent the severity of a disease. The vaccinations available to pets include:

Vaccinations for Cats

Rabiesa deadly virus found in mammals that attacks the nervous system and is spread from the saliva of infected animals that causes madness and convulsions.

Feline Panleukopenia – a highly contagious viral disease found in cats that kills cells rapidly diving and growing. Cats become infected by urine, stool, nasal secretions and fleas from infected cats.

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis – an infectious disease caused by feline herpesvirus type-1. This disease can cause upper respiratory disease in cats, causing inflammation of the tissue around the eyes. Cats become infected through direct contact with virus particles.

Feline Calicivirus Infection – virus that causes upper respiratory infections and oral disease in cats. Symptoms include sneezing, nasal congestion, inflammation of the eyelids and discharges from the nose or eyes. Cats can also develop oral ulcers from this virus.

Vaccinations for Dogs

Canine Distemper – a virus that affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, respiratory and central nervous system. Symptoms of the virus include sneezing, coughing, fever, lethargy, sudden vomiting and diarrhea, depression and loss of appetite. The virus is passed through direct contact with fresh urine, blood or saliva.

Canine Parvovirus Infection – a highly contagious virus that can affect all dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. The virus affects a dog’s gastrointestinal tracts. It is spread by direct contact with other dogs and contaminated feces. Symptoms of the virus include lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, and severe diarrhea.

Canine Hepatitis – a contagious disease of dogs. Symptoms include fever and congestion. More severe symptoms of the disease are depression, apathy, extreme thirst, swelling of the eyes, and serious discharge from the eyes and nose. Injectable vaccines are given to dogs to prevent this disease.

Side Effects of Vaccinations

It is common for some pets to exhibit mild side effects after vaccinations. The pet may experience discomfort and swelling at the injection site. They may also have a slight loss of appetite, sneezing, or mild coughing that may occur for a few days after the vaccination. Seek veterinary care immediately if the pet has persistent vomiting and diarrhea, itchy skin, swelling of the muzzle, severe coughing or difficulty breathing.

Flea and Tick Medication

Check with a vet before using flea and tick products if your animal is taking other drugs, old, sick, a puppy or kitten, pregnant or allergic to flea products. Allow the product to dry on the pet for 24 hours without petting or grooming them. Signs of adverse reactions include poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, depression, and seizure.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), fleas and ticks are the biggest pet care concerns in America.

What are Fleas?

Fleas are parasites that feed on blood and can jump up to two feet high. Symptoms of fleas on dogs and cats include flea droppings in the dog’s coat, flea eggs, excessive scratching, hair loss, scabs, pale gums and tapeworms.

What are Ticks?

Ticks feed on the blood of the host animal, including cats and dogs. Ticks are most active in the spring and summer months. Ticks prefer to attach close to the head, neck, ears, and feet. It is important to check your pet for ticks if you live in an area where ticks are common. Complications from ticks include blood loss, anemia, tick paralysis and skin irritation. Ticks can cause Lyme disease in infected cats and dogs.

Lyme Disease – a bacterial infection that can affect humans, dogs, cats and other mammals. Symptoms of Lyme disease include depression, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite, fever, painful joins and kidney failure.

Cytauxzoonosis – a lethal injection caused by tick bites. Ticks that feed on infected animals transmit the infection to domestic cats. This disease is fatal. Symptoms include high fever, difficulty breathing, and loss of appetite.

Heartworm Medication

Heartworm is a parasite that enters a dog’s system and makes its way to the heart, lungs and pulmonary arteries. They can irritate the blood vessel lining and cause heartworm disease.  Heartworm is only transmitted by an infected mosquito.

Pet Dental Care

Regular brushing keeps your pet’s teeth and gums healthy. Your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked yearly. The vet tech will assist the veterinarian with your pet’s exam. X-rays may be needed to evaluate the jaw and teeth.  A full cleaning and evaluation are done while the pet is under anesthesia. Anesthesia makes the dental procedure easier and is less painful for the pet.

Pet owners should bring in their pet early if they notice the pet has bad breath, loose teeth, tartar, abnormal chewing, refusal to eat, pain, bleeding, or swelling around the mouth. Pets tend to hide pain, so any abnormal behavior of the pet is a sign that they should see their vet. There are a few different reasons for pet dental problems including periodontal disease, abscesses, and malocclusion.

Pet Oral Diseases

Periodontal Disease – a serious gum infection that can destroy the jawbone. It is an infection of oral tissue surrounding the teeth. It is caused by bacteria that builds on the teeth and hardens. Periodontal disease can be prevented by regular brushing. Symptoms include bad breath, swollen gums, bleeding gums, painful chewing, loose teeth, sensitive teeth and receding gum line.

Dental Abscess – an abscess comes from a bacterial infection that has accumulated pus in the soft pulp of the tooth. It can also happen when a dog breaks a tooth from chewing on hard objects. An advanced infection my cause drooling, swelling around the eyes, bad breath, and scratching of the face.

Malocclusion – misalignment of the teeth and bite. This can lead to gum problems, periodontal disease and wear/fractures of the teeth. A dog with malocclusion may have an overbite, underbite, open bite, anterior crossbite, posterior crossbite or base narrow canine teeth.

Interested in learning more about pet disease prevention? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward.

After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.


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