World veterinary day is a time for us to reflect on the amazing work done by veterinary professionals in the field of animal wellbeing, thereby improving life for all.
With recorded history dating as early as 1900 BC, the profession of caring for animals has certainly come a long way. Today’s animal health care methods include not only the veterinarians we see when our animals are sick, but a plethora of additional professionals and expert staff. Additional to the care all these staff members offer to our furry family members, there are many other services they engage in to make our lives better. From research to laboratory work and even assisting in the care of livestock that will feed the nation, they each play a pivotal role in the balance of nature that supports us all. By managing diseases and parasites that can be transferred from animals to human beings, the health of the community is safeguarded. Vaccination of our companion animals against Rabies forms the cornerstone of keeping the human population safe from this fatal disease. Veterinary professionals form an active part of the food supply chain, not only by maintaining health in the animals used for food production, but also by monitoring the quality and safety of the final products such meat, dairy and eggs. Furthermore, veterinarians and animal health technicians are trained to provide support to farmers with regards to production, leading to better planned farming enterprises. This offers the opportunity for subsistence farmers to expand into commercial farming, uplifting individuals and communities.
The advice given by your veterinarian comes from years of study and experience, with each new generation building on the knowledge and wisdom of the last. This means that veterinary medicine and techniques are cutting edge and very often compete with human equivalents.
With all the hard work these professionals do we also have our role to play. By ensuring that our pets have up to date vaccinations and deworming, we can prevent them from getting certain diseases that can be life-threatening, such as parvo-viral enteritis and distemper virus infections.
Sterilisation of our pets leads to a direct benefit for especially welfare organisations such as the Animal Anti-Cruelty League, in that there are less unwanted litters that need to be rehomed. Sterilisation will also decrease your pets’ need to wander and reproduce, leading to less injuries from fighting with other dogs as well as less chance of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. It also decreases your pets’ chances of developing cancers of the reproductive system, including mammary gland cancer. Transmissible Venereal Tumour is a viral disease of dogs that is transmitted during mating, therefore, sterilising your pets will also safeguard them against this infection.
With a good diet (which have also been developed by veterinarians) our pets will live longer, healthier lives. Always feed your pet on appropriate diet for their body size and life stage. Never give your dogs bones to eat as they can perforate the intestine, get lodged in your dog’s mouth or throat and lead to severe constipation. Try to avoid feeding your pets table scraps and leftovers. If you are not willing to eat it yourself, the chances are good that your pet shouldn’t be eating it either. Very fatty and rich foods can lead to painful pancreatitis, associated with vomiting, diarrhoea and not eating. Dogs that are fed table scraps are also more inclined to be overweight, which places your pet at risk for a range of diseases, including diabetes and painful osteoarthritis.
Control of external parasites on your pets will also go a long way to ensuring their health and comfort. Fleas not only cause an enormous degree of discomfort to your pet, but can also bite your human family members, lead to painful skin infections if your pet is allergic to flea bites and can cause worm infestations, as fleas carry the intermediate stages of tape worms. Ticks feed on your pet’s blood, potentially leading to anaemia, transmission of tick bite fever as well as painful bites. Regular dipping or application of an appropriate long-lasting treatment, will help prevent your pet from falling ill.
We face the sadness of lost pets on a daily basis, with both owners coming to look for their lost pets as well as lost pets that are brought to us. Most will never be re-united with their families. By having your pets microchipped, you will be giving them permanent identification. This means that in the event of them going missing and being taken to a shelter or veterinarian’s practice, they can be traced back to you.
Shelters such as ours are packed with unwanted pets. By promoting the message of adoption rather than purchase of pets from backyard breeders, many deserving animals will find a loving home. As mentioned, sterilisation of each and every pet in the household forms an integral part of curbing population growth amongst cats and dogs. Encourage your friends, family and neighbours to do the same. If we all work together, we can make a difference to the hundreds of lives that come into our care every month.
Lets all do our part to build towards a better future for our pets, families and communities.
Article Written by Dr Kathryn Knipe DVM