Part of being a pet owner means taking care of your cat, dog or other animal. Just as kids need to have a physical once in awhile and also receive necessary vaccines, your pet also needs to see a vet for preventative care and vaccinations. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and it means the same thing when it comes to pets.
One of the most important things you can do for your dog or cat is to have it neutered or spayed. Estimates put the number of dogs owned in the U.S. at between 70 million and 80 million and the number of cats at anywhere from 75 million to 95 million. That only counts the ones that are owned and wanted, not the millions of strays that are roaming the streets, in shelters or euthanized every year. That’s why it’s very important to take your dog or cat to the vet to have it fixed as soon as it is old enough.
Another important thing for pet owners to do is to have their pets tested for diseases. For example, dog owners need to have a heartworm test done to test for the heartworm antigen, to ensure this debilitating parasite isn’t present. About a million dogs are estimated to have heartworm, and it is a life-threatening condition. It’s also expensive, with treatment costing around $1,000 or more. Another condition to test against is parvovirus, which is a highly contagious virus. There are heartworm test kits and parvo test kits that you can buy to do at home and then send off to a veterinary laboratory, but it’s more reliable to have such tests done at your vet’s office. If you own a cat, there are also many tests to have done, such as one for feline leukemia.
Just like people, dogs and cats need vaccines to protect them from disease and keep them healthy. Dogs and cats both should get rabies shots, and there are a number of other vaccines that each should have. Your vet can tell you what vaccines are required and when your pet should get them.
Being a responsible pet owner means taking care of your pet, which includes regular trips to the vet and getting all recommended vaccines.