I'm not sure I've ever made a New Year's resolution. This year not only am I making a few but I'm also suggesting a few. I've compiled a list of resolutions I think pet owners will find easy. So forget about renewing that gym membership you only used once last year or giving up that bowl of ice cream before bed, let's set some pet friendly resolutions you can be sure to keep.
1. Measure your pet's food. This is an easy, money saving and health altering decision that just makes sense. Stop by your vet's office, pick up a free food measuring cup, ask your vet to calculate out how much food your pet needs, pay your vet for their time and then start feeding your pet exactly that much. You'll be surprisd over the course of the year, how much money you'll save on pet food and how much better your pet will look and feel by Autumn.
2. Brush your pet's teeth. I remember talking to my anatomy professor in vet school about this and he said, "You're not going to be one of those vets who tells people to brush their pet's teeth, are you?" At the time I thought, "No way!" Today I am happy to report, "Yes way!" If you can learn how to effectively brush your pet's teeth and then complete the task 5 times a week for about a minute, you can do a lot to prevent periodontal disease. When you consider that just a dental cleaning, under general anesthesia at our clinic is around $400, cutting just one or two of these out during your pet's lifetime is well worth the 5 minutes a week you'll spend on it.
3. Get pet insurance. I've said this before in blogs. I know. But seriously, think about it. Do you have the funds right now to cover a serious emergency for your dog or cat? This past year I have had at least two pets into the clinic for emergencies involving fighting with anouther pet in the family. Simple enough. Except so much damage had been done that wounds needed to be mangaged using multiple bandage changes and encouraging specific tissue growth with the dressings. To the tune of multiple thousands of dollars worth of care. I also had a favorite patient of mine (yes I have some foavorties, sorry) hospitalized and treated for a life threatening illness. This pet had insurance. The same day I told the owner that we were out of the woods there was a letter in the mailbox with reimbursemted for 80% of the medical costs! I never want you to be in the position to have to make a tough choice on something that could be fixed if only you had enough money. That's terrible. Please think about at least accident insurance for your pet.
4. Bring in that annual fecal sample. Veterinarians maybe don't press this one hard enough but you really should have your pet checked for internal parasites at least once a year, probably more often but once a year will do. Not that pets here in the United States, especially in the Northern colder states, are going to die from parasitism but many of the parasites they carry don't mind if they are living in a dog or in a human. And the ones that don't do well parasitizing us can still do some pretty awful things. Google "Creeping Eruption" if you don't believe me. But here's the other thing, some parasatism probably keeps our immune systems on alert and keeps us from acquiring other more nasty infections. So rather than just deworm your pets, I'd much rather look for parasites and treat them as we find them. If we don't find them it doesn't mean they aren't there but rather that the population is low enough so I don't have to worry about you getting them.
5. Prevent, don't try to treat fleas. So it's going to be 2014. Fleas have been a problem for humans for a long time. You might have heard of the Bubonic Plague in history classes, it has gone through several epidemics and changed civilization as we know it. What you might not know is that Yersinia Pestis, the bacteria that causes Plague, is spread by fleas. I'm not saying if you don't prevent fleas you are going to get the plague but I am trying to illustrate why maybe you don't want to live with them. The other issue I would like to illustrate is that it is roughly one million times easier for us to prevent fleas than it is for us to treat fleas. Once fleas enter your home, their larvae will spin little coccons that act like concrete bunkers. These are impossible to get rid of and the little blood suckers can lay dormant for nearly six months! Better to just keep them out of the house in the first place. So please stop waiting until you see fleas and start preventing them before you see them. Because once you see them - it's too late.
Those are my New Year's resolution suggestions to you. As for me, I plan to put up 12 blogs this year, go to the gym 4 days a week and continue to practice veterinary medicine with the same enthusiasm and enjoyment as I've had since 2010 when I moved to the Green Mountain State and met all of the wonderful people and pets I know now.