Preventative Health Care for Cats & Dogs

Published on May 14, 2020 by Kyle Shelstad

Man and woman practicing preventative health care by jogging with their dog

Interested in learning more about preventative health care for cats and dogs? Want to become a vet tech that helps pet parents keep cats and dogs healthy? There are many reasons to become a vet tech. Most people who enter this field of medicine do so because they love animals and want to devote their lives to caring for them. There’s also a demand for vet techs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the job market for qualified veterinary technicians is expected to grow by more than 19 percent from 2018 to 2028.

Why Someone Becomes A Vet Tech

Vet techs practice preventative health care for cats and dogs and deal with a variety of health issues and actively participate in the treatment and healing process. Vet techs perform routine duties like dental cleanings on dogs and cats and running lab tests.

Veterinary technicians may administer emergency first aid and conduct evaluations before the veterinarian sees a pet. Vet techs that work in a large animal practice may work with veterinarians on farms or horse breeding facilities. One of the more satisfying aspects of the job is seeing an animal recover.

Vet techs work with a team that’s dedicated to providing quality, preventative health care for animals. Veterinarians, vet techs, front office staff, kennel assistants, and everyone on the team love animals and dedicate their lives to their care and well-being.

Vet techs provide the best care possible for dogs, cats, and other pets by taking advantage of advanced technology in veterinary medicine. Vet techs have to keep up with advances in technology.

A vet tech has the opportunity for community interaction by educating pet owners on the most effective and compassionate way of caring for their pets. Vet techs have a unique opportunity to interact with a lot of people in their community. During this interaction they offer advice when a pet owner has questions. Through interaction and educating pet owners, vet techs can help pet parents with a wide range of issues and concerns.

How Can Pet Owners Use Preventative Practices to Keep Cats and Dogs Healthy?

Preventative care is the best way for any pet owner to help their cat or dog live a long, healthy life. Pet parents don’t always know when their dog or cat is in pain since they have evolved to not show weakness around potential predators. They may also distance themselves from their owners when feeling vulnerable.

Pet owners become familiar with the behavior and routine of their dogs or cats like they do with any other family member. Responsible pet owners can tell by their pet’s behavior when something isn’t quite right.

If a pet can’t seem to find a comfortable position to lie in, or whimpers when touched, it could be a sign that something isn’t quite right. When a pet is vomiting, has diarrhea, or stops eating and drinking water or drinks water excessively, there’s something wrong, and it’s time to schedule a trip to the vet.

Routine, preventative health care is the best way to keep dogs and cats healthy and happy. Here’s what pet owners need to do to ensure their pets have a long life. Pet owners should do annual checkups on their pets, dental cleanings, allow the pet to get plenty of exercise, administer flea and tick medication, adhere to proper nutritional guidelines, and get all the recommended vaccines.

Annual Checkups

Veterinarians usually recommend annual wellness examinations to keep dogs and cats healthy and to check for potential health issues. When dogs and cats reach the age of seven, veterinarians recommend bi-annual checkups. Preventative measures are the most effective way to ensure a pet’s good health. Detecting a potential problem during a wellness exam will allow treatment before it becomes severe.

During a wellness exam, the veterinarian will evaluate a pet’s eyes, ears, and teeth. The vet will listen to a pet’s heart to make sure it’s healthy. Along with checking a pet’s skin and coat in order to make sure there’s no irritation. Some of the additional tests the vet may recommend during the annual exam are:

Fecal examination – checks a pet’s stool for parasites and other organisms. Puppies are usually tested more frequently for organisms in their stools than adult dogs. Some parasites are dangerous not only to pets but to the humans, and they must be discovered early.

Blood panel – checks red and white blood cell counts, kidney and liver function, and any other abnormalities. Pets over the age of seven may be checked twice a year to make sure everything is functioning normally.

Veterinarians may recommend additional tests like blood pressure, an EKG, urinalysis, and x-rays. The veterinarian determines which tests may be necessary based on the pet’s medical history and individual needs.

Dental Cleaning

The American Veterinary Medical Association states that dental health is an important part of a pet’s overall health, and dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems. When a pet has bad breath, it could be a sign of gum disease or some digestive issue and should be checked by a veterinarian.

Dental chews can help to reduce tartar buildup on pet’s teeth. A vet tech can determine the right size of dental chew for a pet based on its size. The chews can add calories to a pet’s diet, and vet techs can determine if this is an option.

Owners can brush a pet’s teeth at home using special toothbrushes and toothpaste made for pets. Human toothpaste should never be used for pets because of ingredients like sweeteners that are toxic to pets.

Getting a kitten or puppy accustomed to having its teeth brushed will make it easier when they’re older. Having a pet’s teeth and gums examined during a wellness exam can identify any potential problems before they become serious.

Exercise for Dogs

Dogs are susceptible to disease, including joint and bone diseases, heart and lung disease, and diabetes if they’re overweight. To prevent this, a dog needs a steady amount of exercise. Dog daycare is an option that allows dogs to interact and get sufficient exercise during the day, especially for dog owners that work and are away from home for long periods of time.

Brisk, daily walks can help keep a dog in a healthy condition and prevent it from becoming overweight. For dog owners that have fenced-in yards, an obstacle course or playtime with toys is recommended. Interactive toys are an excellent option for dogs that are indoors most of the time.

Another way to keep dogs fit both physically and mentally is to schedule brief training sessions of about 15 minutes at a time. Dogs enjoy learning new tricks and are eager to please their owners.

Flea and Tick Medicine

Ticks, fleas, parasites in the intestinal tract, and heartworms can cause discomfort and potentially dangerous diseases. Fleas can lay eggs and cause a lot of pain and irritation due to scratching. Ticks may pass on infectious diseases. Untreated, heartworm is a disease that can be fatal. A heartworm test can determine if there are infestations and medication to prevent the disease.

Nutrition

Dogs and cats must eat nutritional foods for each stage of their lives. Cats and dogs have different dietary needs and shouldn’t eat each other’s food. Portion control is essential, so a cat or dog doesn’t gain too much weight and develop health problems,

Some pets should eat a special diet due to potential health problems. Dogs and cats that may be prone to excessive weight gain should eat grain-free foods. Dogs or cats that are at risk for diseases like diabetes or pancreatitis can eat wet or dry food specifically created for pets with gastrointestinal problems. The diets for at-risk pets are lower in fat and calories to prevent inflammation and pain.

Food for small to medium-sized dogs should contain animal-based protein for healthy muscles, vitamins and minerals to keep the immune system healthy and fiber for the digestive tract. A sufficient amount of grains for energy should be in the diet. Also, fish oils keep the skin and coat healthy.

Cats may eat dry or wet food or a combination of the two. If a cat is at risk for certain diseases, the pet owner should follow the recommendations of their veterinarian. The diet for adult cats should contain Taurine for the heart and healthy eyes, Vitamin A and niacin, so the cat grows properly and is healthy, and Essential Fatty Acids for the skin and coat.

Vaccines

Cats and dogs are vaccinated against certain diseases, and both should be vaccinated against rabies. Usually, the first rabies vaccine is administered to puppies and kittens at about four months of age. Additional vaccines are administered when cats and dogs are about six months old.

Cats may be vaccinated against Calici, Chlamydia, and Rhinotracheitis, which are upper respiratory diseases that are common in cats. Vaccines are available to prevent cats from getting sick. Also, distemper vaccinations are important for cats.

Dogs should be vaccinated against Bordetella, also known as kennel cough. The medication for kennel cough is sometimes administered as a nasal spray. Dogs should also be vaccinated against Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, and Parvo.

Choosing to provide preventative health care for animals by becoming a vet tech is an excellent career choice for any animal lover. Veterinary technology offers the opportunity to interact and care for a wide range of animal species and help pet owners to become more compassionate and educated on the best ways to care for their pets.

Final Thoughts

Helping cats and dogs is part of the reward of becoming a vet tech. You will help pet parents feed their dogs and cats nutritious foods, vaccinate against disease, exercise their pets and get annual wellness exams to catch any issues before they become serious. Ultimately, you can educate pet parents how to prevent illness and disease, making their cats and dogs live long, happy, and healthy lives.

Did learning preventative health care for cats and dogs interest you? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? 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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