Keep­ing pets healthy – in­side and out

Northern Outlook - - HEALTHY PETS -

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.

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