Spring is traditionally celebrated as a season of renewal; a time to clear out the clutter, clean up and breathe fresh life into old habits. We should be doing the same with our pet care. It’s easy when a pet has been part of the family for a while to start to neglect those annual checkups and changes that become necessary as a pet ages, yet they can be our pet’s best protection against disease and decline.
Here’s our pet to-do list for Spring:

Update vaccinations
There are several highly contagious diseases that can afflict a dog or cat at any stage during its life. These include deadly parvovirus, distemper and feline leukaemia. Too many pet owners stop vaccinating once the pet reaches adulthood, yet vaccinations should be updated annually. Remember that you are required by law to have your pets vaccinated against rabies. And please don’t believe your dog’s health status, environment or lifestyle precludes him from vaccinations. Diseases spread in myriad ways and once contracted can be difficult, and sometimes even impossible, to cure.

De-flea and de-tick
Parasites are a summer scourge; nobody wants a flea infestation in their home, or ticks carrying deadly biliary hitching a ride on their dog. Only a tiny fraction of adult fleas can actually be seen with the naked eye so it’s highly likely that you won’t know your pet has fleas at all. Parasite protection is quick and easy to apply and comes in several formulations, so you can pick the one best suited to your pet’s lifestyle and temperament. EberVet Vetshops stock a wide range, from tasty chews to spot-ons or powders and long-lasting collars for cats. Always get advice when buying parasite control as some formulations can be toxic to puppies and kittens and to lactating bitches.

Few pet owners appreciate how easily worm infestations are spread, or the damage they can cause. Worms, their eggs or larvae are present in soil, in fleas and in raw food but only two kinds of worms are commonly seen with the unaided eye and some infestations cause few or no symptoms. This is why veterinarians recommend routine deworming every three months. Tapeworm doesn’t just lie around in the intestine waiting for your next meal; they also infect the liver and brain causing life-threatening lesions in these organs. In addition to de-worming regularly, it is always a good idea to keep your yard free of faeces.

If you haven’t done so already, now is the ideal time to sterilise your pet as dogs and cats generally go on heat as the weather warms. Cats repeat the heat cycle every two to three weeks and can go back into heat one week to one month after delivering kittens. In addition to preventing unwanted litters, sterilisation protects your pet against cancer of the uterus, mammaries and testicles and diseases like pyometra, a potentially deadly infection of the uterus.

Revise your pet’s diet
As pets age, their nutritional needs change so it’s always a good idea to reconsider what you’re feeding them. Arthritis, kidney disease and diabetes become real issues as they get older and a change in diet can help. Ask your EberVet Vetshop to guide you in choosing the right formulation for your pet. There are dietary supplements and vitamins that can aid joint mobility too. And don’t forget to keep up your pet’s annual vet visits. The earlier diseases and changes are spotted, the easier they are to treat. – Veterinarian Dr Hilldidge Beer is CEO of the EberVet Petcare Group and EberVet Vetshops, www.ebervet.com

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