Keeping our pets happy and healthy is a top priority, so having a good handle on routine dog or cat preventative health care is a great start!
It is recommended that all dogs and cats who go for walks outdoors or otherwise contact other animals (e.g. in boarding) should be kept up-to-date with vaccination. This generally involves a series of three puppy/kitten vaccines, and then vaccinations every one to three years thereafter.
The vaccination regime your pet requires depends on their age and species, the environment they live in, and whether they travel or go to boarding, grooming or doggy-daycare.
Dogs should have the C3 vaccination as a minimum, and then require additional vaccination against kennel cough or leptospirosis if they are deemed “at risk”.
Cats should have the F3 vaccination as a minimum, and then may require additional vaccines e.g. feline chlamydia or feline leukaemia virus, depending on their environment.
Unless you are confident that you have the time, resources, knowledge and finances to responsibly breed your pet, it is generally best to desex them at an appropriate age.
Entire male dogs and cats are more likely to show problem urine marking behaviour and territorial or competitive aggression. Female cats and dogs need to be protected from accidental mating whilst “on heat”, and can suffer from false pregnancy afterwards.
Desexing your pet will also prevent testicular tumours in males, and uterine cancers or infections (pyometra) in female animals.
Cats are best desexed around 4-6 months old. Small-to-medium dogs may be desexed around 6-10 months old, but it is generally recommended to delay the procedure in larger breed dogs to 12-18 months old to allow optimal joint development.
It’s important to ensure your pet is on a complete, balanced diet that is appropriate for their species and age (and any special health requirements they may have).
Whilst dogs are considered omnivores, cats are obligate carnivores and require a meat-based diet with taurine supplementation to maintain proper health.
Puppies and kittens should be on a diet designed for growth, with higher levels of protein and fat, and increased levels of balanced calcium and phosphate for bone growth. Most animals can then be transferred to an adult maintenance diet around 12 months old (or 18-24 months for large to giant breed dogs), to prevent unhealthy weight gain.
Most vets recommend the “veterinary brands” of food, as they are confident about the long-standing nutritional research that has gone into their development. These diets also come in “prescription” formulas to support animals with certain health issues, such as kidney disease, joint disease or food allergies.
However, if you would prefer to offer your pet a home-cooked or raw diet, it’s best to ask your vet for a recommendation on a qualified veterinary nutritionist, to ensure the diet you are offering is balanced and complete.
Covering these basics of routine health care will help to set your pet up for a lifetime of good health!