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April 2010

Preventive Medicine Key to Keeping Animals Healthy

Going in for a physical? Have to get your vaccinations updated? Are you discussing preventive medicine with your doctors?
Those same health and preventive medicine principles apply to food production animals as well.
“A big part of food animal practice is preventive medicine,” says food animal veterinarian Mike Nicholson, DVM. Nicholson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine and has been practicing primarily on dairy and swine farms for the Evansville Veterinary Service for 14 years.
Veterinarians strive to address animal health and well-being before they become an issue or develop into an emergency situation. Included in preventive medicine and health is proper nutrition, housing, animal care, as well as vaccinating.
Most people are encouraged to eat a healthy, balanced diet by their doctors and there is no difference when it comes to animals. Veterinarians assist owners and animal nutritionists to determine high quality, healthy diets for animals.
Along with nutrition, veterinarians work with owners to develop health directives through a veterinarian client patient relationship. This key relationship helps to define the animal health plan for the individual farm.
“The veterinarian working on the farm needs to help develop the vaccination protocols that best fit the needs of the animals,” Nicholson says. “Making sure animals and herds are properly vaccinated is a big part of our job as veterinarians and involves an in-depth knowledge of the disease agents, the vaccines and the dynamics of the herd.”
Like in humans, vaccinations protect both the individual and the public (or in this case the herd) from infectious diseases.
When an animal is properly vaccinated against a specific disease, its immune system is then able to fight off the disease so the animal remains healthy and productive.
Deciding when it is necessary to vaccinate is based on many factors including age of the animals, disease and vaccination history, the production system and the effectiveness of available vaccines.
Historically animal vaccines have helped to eliminate or greatly reduce a number of major diseases experienced in food production animals, the same way vaccinations have eliminated or reduced human diseases.
“The combination of good vaccination strategies and herd health management has us on track to run a few more diseases out of our herds so we can maintain an ample and safe food supply.” Nicholson explains.
Choosing the Right Dog Day Care for Your Pet
Sometimes juggling all of life’s responsibilities feels nearly impossible. Between busy home and work schedules, it can be tough at times to give our pets the exercise and attention they need and deserve. Who wouldn’t want to come home after a busy day and relax, without the guilt of “man’s best friend” staring at you and wondering why you won’t put on your boots and take him for a walk? The answer: dog day care.
“Dog day care has become a welcomed reality for pet owners who want to be sure their dogs are getting much needed exercise, mental stimulation and socialization,” noted Randy Schuett, DVM, of Pewaukee Veterinary Services.
But with your full calendar, how do you find the time to look into the many dog day care services out there? How do you know which environment is right for your dog? How do you avoid a facility that isn’t up to snuff?
Dr. Schuett offers this checklist to simplify your selection process:
  • Ask for recommendations from friends, colleagues and services providers (such as groomers) you know.
  • Stop by dog day care facilities and ask for a tour without calling ahead. If there are restricted areas of the tour due to feeding or naptimes for the doggy guests, ask if you can see these areas at another time. You should be able to see exactly where your dog is sleeping, eating, and playing. A reputable, well-run dog day care will welcome the opportunity to speak with you about their services and to let you meet their staff. If they won’t allow you to visit the facility or give you the brush off, steer clear and take your pet elsewhere.
  • Look for a clean, well-maintained facility – from the reception lobby area all the way through the back door. It is difficult to avoid some hint of dog scent but there should be no strong-smelling “doggy smell” permeating the facility.
  • Watch to see that the dog day care program is well-supervised, whether the dogs are playing indoors or out. Ask how the dogs are supervised and what methods the staff use. For example, do they use obedience and positive reinforcement methods? The dog-to-staff ratio should allow for proper supervision of all the dogs.
  • Make sure the facility requires proof of vaccinations as well as proof of spaying or neutering for all participating dogs. All the dogs should be required to be up-to-date on bordetella, distemper and rabies vaccines. If that’s not the facility’s policy, keep looking.
  • Look for facilities that have relationships with local veterinarians or have a veterinarian on staff. A dog day care facility affiliated with a veterinary hospital is ideal. Having the peace of mind knowing that medical help is readily available and easily accessible is worth it. If they offer the convenience of combining services while your pet is there, such as boarding and grooming, all the better!
  • Look for friendly, approachable staff and ask them questions about their dog day care programs and facility. They should be knowledgeable and eager to share information with you; if they don’t know the answer to your question, they should be able to have another staff member help you. If they don’t answer your questions or do their best to accommodate you, look somewhere else.
  • Meet the manager or owner of the dog day care and get their business card. Find out what their procedures are for participating in dog day care and also in the event of emergency. Ask for an after-hours contact name and phone number for when the facility is closed.
  • Ask how the facility is cleaned and how often. They should have routine daily cleaning with pet-safe products that kill bacteria and virus and use a water system to rinse the areas clean.
  • Find out the timeframes for dropping-off and picking-up your pet to ensure the service fits with your schedule.
  • Finally, ask what the fees are and if they provide additional services such as giving medications or addressing special needs. Ask what the fees are for these additional services.

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