Making pet parenting easy

Becoming Pet Parents

Choosing the right product that fits your needs is often easier said than done, because what do you actually need?

Becoming a new pet parent can often be very confusing because it is difficult to know what exactly your pet needs regarding preventative treatment. There are a number of reasons this can be confusing!

Information overload- Dr google has a remedy for everything you never knew existed
What are the things you are preventatively trying to treat your pet for?
There are so many products, how do you choose?
What factors affect your choices?

Let's start off with basic health and preventative care in new pets. The key here, is to keep it simple and ask for help if you are unsure! In this article I am going to focus briefly on vaccinations, deworming and tick and flea treatments.

The most important thing to get right is the vaccination schedule! Puppies are usually vaccinated at 6, 9 and 12 weeks. And kittens at 9 and 12 weeks. But be sure to check with your veterinarian, as the timing of all vaccinations including the boosters, are crucial and will depend on when the first vaccination was done. What is important to note with vaccinations is that your vet will advise you on what your pet needs and all you need to do is follow their advice. Remember that after the initial puppy or kitten vaccines your pet will need annual boosters. If for whatever reason you miss a vaccination, contact your vet and ask for their advice, don’t just leave it and assume it will be fine.

The next important thing to remember is deworming your pet. Puppies and kittens should be dewormed from 2 weeks old. This is normally done by the breeder or welfare to start with. Once your new precious little furball is home, you should continue deworming it every 2 weeks until it is 12 weeks old. This may seem like overkill, but is important because besides the actual damage and illness that worms can cause themselves, infected intestines or enteritis make young animals more susceptible to viral infections such as Canine Parvovirus or Feline Panleukopenia virus. After 3 months of age, it is recommended that pets are dewormed every 3 to 4 months.

Equally important to deworming, is using a tick and flea control product. Fleas cause a lot of irritation and skin disease for many animals. They are probably one of the biggest contributors towards itchy skin and one should always aim to effectively control them. Hardly ever will you actually see many fleas, unless you have a massive infestation, as pets are so effective at grooming and ingest fleas in the process.

Ticks are tiny little blood sucking parasites that occur almost everywhere in South Africa. One bite can give your dog or cat tick bite fever, and if left untreated, can be fatal. Conveniently most tick and flea products occur in combination nowadays, which means you can treat for both parasites together, quite safely and effectively.

So how do you decide which product to use?

Things to consider would include:

Make sure you are using the right product for the right species!
Cats cannot have dog medication. Remember that product safety margins have only been tested on the species that the product was intended for.

At what age is it safe to use a certain product?
There is variation amongst products and therefore be sure your pet is old enough for the product you decide to use. This age usually ranges from 7-9 weeks but check on the individual product. For example Nexgard and Bravecto for dogs is safe to use from 8 weeks

What is the minimum your pet should weigh?
Make sure your puppy or kitten weighs enough for the product you intend to use, for its own safety. For example when using Advocate in kittens they must weigh more than 1 kg whereas when using Broadline, they must weigh more than 0.6 kg. Also, be sure to use the correct amount of medication in heavier adult pets, sometimes this means you might need to combine from different weight categories. For example when using Nexgard spectra: Dogs weighing over 60 kg, administer an appropriate combination of chewables, e.g. for a 75 kg dog, administer one 30.1 – 60 kg chew together with one 7.6 – 15 kg chew. But always see product labels for full claim details and directions for use.

Is the product safe for pregnant or lactating animals?
You will need to check the package insert carefully of the product you intend to use on pregnancy and lactating animals, as the safety of many veterinary medicinal products have not been established for these animals

Does your pet live mainly indoors or outdoors?
This can affect the amount of parasites your pet may be exposed to, indoor animals tend to be less infested. And this may also affect your product choice, for example Advantage in cats treats only fleas, and for many indoor cats this is adequate.

How many animals live in your household?
The more animals you have in your home, the more often you will need to treat for parasites. Also be aware that you will need to treat all pets at the same time.

Are there any strays in your neighbourhood that come in contact with your pets?
Stray pets can often be the source of infestation for your pets and backyard

Does your pet have any diseases that prevent you from using a product?
Always bear in mind that most products are created for fit healthy individuals. But this may not always be the case and extra special precaution will need to be taken to ensure the product you choose is suitable for your pet! An example of this would be a pet with epilepsy. Ensure the product you choose to use is safe. If you are unsure always check with your veterinarian

Are there any breeds that can’t have certain products?
There are certain breeds such as Collies, which may have a gene (MDRI gene) that makes them sensitive to certain drugs. Milbemycin in Milbemax deworming tablets and Nexgard Spectra would be an example of this

Which diseases occur in the region you live?
One will generally see less ticks in urban regions compared to wide open farmlands. As mentioned above, you may only need a flea medication for strictly indoor cats. Similarly Heartworm only occurs in certain small regions in South Africa. Therefore, check with your local veterinarian which product suits your needs.

Ease of administration of a product
Not all animals are easy to medicate. Some cats are just impossible to tablet! Choose the product that you are able to administer or apply. Tablet vs top spot vs collar, there are so many products available. It's no use the dog flea tablet sits in your top drawer because your dog won’t eat it!

How often does one have to administer the product?
Products are registered to work effectively for a certain period of time. Some need to be dosed or applied monthly and others 3 monthly or even 6 monthly. Choose the product that suits your pet. Often it might be better to use a monthly product in a fast growing puppy. Whereas using a 6 month product in an adult pet may suit you best.

ALWAYS read the package insert of a product, and if you are in any way unsure ask for advice. Your veterinarian will always be happy to help answer any questions.

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