Springtime Preventative Health For Pets

By Dr. Doug Pernikoff, DVM

It’s just about springtime and we are all excited about leaving our winter cocoons and blossoming into backyard explorers, often joined by our beloved pets, either dog or cat. The first issue regards updating your annual examinations and immunizations. Each veterinarian will host their own healthcare program for your pets, so take the time to visit, have your pets examined and update the appropriate and needed immunizations, per direction. If your cats explore the outdoors unsupervised, or even stay outdoors during spring and summer, be sure to have them tested for feline leukemia and feline immunologic virus(FIV). Follow up with proper vaccinations for the feline leukemia. Unfortunately, most vets will not honor the value of FIV, or FIP(feline infectious peritonitis), vaccines as being useful. Rabies is a vaccine required by law, as humans can be infected by the same strains of virus that affect our pets, or wild animal carriers like skunks, foxes, bats, and more.

Fecal examinations are also a necessary part of the annual, or better, the biannual visits to your veterinarian. Parasite infestations can go undetected for years sometimes, until your pet undergoes other disease or stress that suppresses the immune system, and allows a recrudescence of clinical disease associated with any number of internal parasites like hookworms, roundworms, whipworms or protozoan coccidia. A fresh sample is always best, not dried or not much older than a few hours.
Ticks and soon after, fleas, begin to appear in the woodlands and grasslands. As we explore our yard spaces, guess what. Our critters pick up these parasites, we call ectoparasites. Ticks can spread any number of diseases like Lymes(not in Missouri, officially), Erlichiosis, and more. Most exams include a heartworm blood test for mosquito borne disease, but also may include testing for these other tick borne diseases as well. They can be very insidious regarding their clinical onset, as they tend to hide inside body cells or blood cells, and again, with undue stress, they may invigorate themselves and become a problem. Signs and symptoms may be very generalized, showing only fever spikes, lethargy, loss of interest in play and a decrease in activity overall. Again, these issues are often ruled out in the course of your physical examination. I usually encourage folks to initiate preventative tick and flea products by early to mid April, depending on the weather conditions. Wet and warm will encourage the seasonal presence of ticks and again, fleas a bit later.

Heartworm disease is most usually treated with preventatives year round. That is our own clinic recommendation, and likely, what you will hear from your own vet as well. There are a number of products on the market, and again, visit to your vet will clarify any number of alternatives. All products also provide preventative protection against intestinal parasites mentioned above. Newest products have expanded protection against whipworms as well, a more difficult parasite to discover on very intermittent fecal exams. All in all, preventative care for your pets, including the one or two times annual exams, go a long way to protect your pet’s health and well being; and, ensures a safe and fun time in the yard and surrounding woodlands.
Have a great and enjoyable spring season!

Fondly, Dr. Doug Pernikoff
Clarkson-Wilson Veterinary Clinic
Vet Pet Rescue