Keeping pets healthy – inside and out
It may come as some surprise to learn that less than 5 per cent of the flea population lives on our pets. The remaining 95 per cent lives in our pets’ environment and, if you institute an effective flea control strategy, you can minimise the seasonal flea problem.
Bites are irritating to pets and can cause severe skin reactions. Bacteria can cause severe diseases and tapeworms can be transmitted. Anaemia, too, can occur in young kittens or puppies.
Veterinarian Kathy Preston, who has been with Rangiora Vet Centre for 20 years, based mainly at the Kaiapoi clinic, recommends all pet owners should employ effective flea control measures like these to provide maximum protection for their animals:
Treat all pets, all year round, with long-acting products that control all life stages of fleas.
Vacuum thoroughly, especially the areas where animals lie.
Hot-wash beds and bedding frequently.
Remove piles of garden debris, prevent access to dusty areas such as under the house or decks.
Prevent stray cats from accessing your house.
In spring, use 12-month flea foggers/bombs throughout the house.
Along with keeping a watchful eye on potential flea presence, Kathy says a healthy diet is important to sustain a robust and lively pet.
However, she cautions against over-thinking the nutrition aspect of a pet’s wellbeing.
She says veterinary medicine has changed considerably with the development of premium pet foods and, consequently, pets are living healthier, longer lives.
‘‘I honestly feel that people are simply trying too hard to find the right nutrition for their pets,’’ she says.
‘‘They are bombarded with advice and opinions from advertisements, breeders, groomers, petfood companies and the internet. Owners end up confused and, in many instances, resort to trying to formulate a diet themselves based on table-scraps and meat products from the supermarket.
‘‘Feeding your cat or dog is, in fact, easy and does not require agonising choices.
‘‘A premium petfood found in vet clinics and leading pet stores is ideal and is based on all the research done on animal nutrition over the last 100 years.
‘‘There is nothing in the premium petfoods that will knowingly harm your pet, but everything that they need for optimal health.’’
She says the advantages of a premium petfood are:
They are simply precise nutrition for individual needs that vary with breed, age, weight, gender, digestion, lifestyle and health.
They do not come in cute boneshapes; food is shaped to fit the jaw of the pet and suit their manner of eating.
They are highly digestible so there is less faecal waste to clean up, plus you feed less.
What looks expensive is, in fact, cost-effective.
Pets’ skin and coats are healthier, thus they are able to repel allergens and infections better.
Although available in wet forms, the best way to buy them is in the dry form. Biscuits are cleaner in the bowl, don’t smell as bad, or need fridge space, are more costeffective, but most importantly, help to clean your pet’s teeth as they eat.
Dental disease is by far the most common health issue affecting pets, and should be a major factor in choosing their diet. These diets have tested, proven benefits and play a major part in disease prevention and management, such as kidney, urinary and liver disease, obesity, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, joint issues, allergies and so on.
"If you are seeking advice on pet nutrition, please consider whether you are getting it from an animal health professional,’’ Kathy says.
‘‘If not, it is quite likely you are receiving ‘opinion’ only, and will still have important choices to make. However, it just does not need to be that difficult – trust the experts.’’
Kathy Preston discusses options for flea and worm treatment with a client.