Eight vets offer their top-priority pet pointers
By KL Snyder
The Wagazine asked eight veterinarians, “If you could tell your clients one thing, what would it be?” And the vets replied:
Dr. Brad Treder, Northern Valley Animal Clinic, Rochester
Treder covered four basics and just for fun matched them to celebrities who would surely agree.
• Spay or neuter your pet. It helps to control pet population, avoid unwanted behaviors and
prevent serious medical issues. Bob Barker concurs.
• Provide strong leadership, a la Cesar Milan. Train your pet to be socially well-adjusted.
• Control your pet’s weight. The svelte are less subject to summertime overheating, joint and mobility problems, diabetes, liver disease and a shortened life span. Marie Osmond approves.
• Keep your pet’s teeth clean. Dental chews, daily brushing and professional cleanings as needed keep pets’ teeth healthy, and good dental hygiene supports allover health—as
five out of five veterinary dentists will attest.
Dr. Kate Brakefield, Cannon Valley Vet, Northfield
Brakefield highlighted the value of preventative care.
“We see so many things that could have been prevented, or illnesses we could do more for, if we had just seen the animal sooner or on a regular basis,” she said. “Vaccinations, routine blood screening and aspiration/sampling of lumps and bumps are some of the preventative care measures that top my list.
“Obviously, routine wellness exams and bloodwork become even more important as an animal ages, just like with people!”
Dr. Mark Wenner, Cascade Animal Hospital, Rochester
Wenner likewise stressed prevention. “Baseline blood testing, dental, vaccines—all prevent other disease processes from happening.”
Too often by the time the vet sees a pet with dental disorders, it’s had a problem for some time. Bacteria from tooth and gum infections can get into the blood stream and inflict further harm. “Dogs and cats with periodontal disease have a much higher risk of heart, kidney and liver disease,” Wenner said. “It’s a big deal.”
Pest control matters, too. A monthly dose of heartworm preventative also stops round, whip, tape and hook worms. Flea and tick protection deters Lyme disease and anaplasmosis.
Dr. Ann Anderson, Quarry Hill Park Animal Hospital, Rochester
“Can animals get fleas in the winter?” clients ask Anderson. “Yes, they can,” she replies, and she advocates year-round flea prevention.
“Fleas are out there,” she said. “They’re like Asian beetles—tough.” Fleas can survive months without eating. If they should sneak into a cabin closed for the winter, “they’ll be there to greet you in the spring.”
They’ll be there to greet you anywhere. “If you go to the dog park or groomer or daycare, fleas could be there.” Wild animals such as squirrels, rabbits and raccoons don’t object to sharing their flea supply. “So,” said Anderson, “continue flea prevention.”
Dr. Travis Einertson, Heritage Pet Hospital, Rochester
“Feed a species-appropriate diet,” Einertson said.
Research has determined what’s best for cats. They’re carnivores whose ideal diet is high protein, moderate fat, very low carbohydrate. The protein should be animal-based. Einertson suggests canned cat food such Friskies Classic Paté (his cat’s favorite) or Fancy Feast.
Dogs’ nutritional needs are less clear. Canned seems healthier (and is costlier), but because dogs are omnivores, kibble might be all right—if it’s grain free with animal-based protein and no vegetable oil. “When you’re choosing dog food,” Einertson said, “remember that when dogs chase, their prey isn’t the grains in the field.”
Dr. Denise Hodge, Affiliated Emergency Veterinary Service, Rochester
Hodge covered climate extremes.
“Seasonal temperature changes affect pets. The heat of summer is not well tolerated and can lead to heat stress, or to heat stroke which can be life-threatening.” Whenever pets are outdoors in the heat, they need fresh water and shade. That’s imperative, she said, “and exercise should be kept to a minimum.”
Take measures in winter, too. “The extreme cold temperatures of winter are as dangerous and uncomfortable for pets as they are for people.” During Arctic outbreaks, pets should stay indoors as much as possible. “Pets are as susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia as we are.”
Dr. Darlene Cook, The Bluffs Pet Clinic, Red Wing
“I’m an avid supporter of pet insurance,” Cook said. She tells new clients, “Pet insurance is wonderful.”
She knows whereof she advocates. Her pets’ policies have saved her thousands of dollars—more than $13,500 last year for cancer treatments for her Golden Retriever.
“Pet insurance takes money out the equation of what can I do for my pet?” she said. “An amount such as $1,800 to $12,000 for surgery can be a deal breaker, but with insurance you don’t even have to think about it.”
Based on research of 13 pet insurers, she endorses two: Petplan and Trupanion.
Dr. Kathleen Appell, Riverwood Veterinary Housecalls, Rochester
“If there was one thing I’d like to tell my clients, it’s THANK YOU!
“Every day I’m amazed at the beauty of the bond between pets and their families. I’m honored to be a part of that, to be able to care for their best friends. I see pet owners on a daily basis who are doing all they can to make their pets’ lives healthy and happy.
“I’ve watched the tenderness and devotion when their pets are seriously ill, and the joy of a new pet brought into their lives.
“So the one thing I’d like to say is THANK YOU!”
Freelance writer KL Snyder is happy to brush her dogs’ teeth every day—and happy, too, that she doesn’t have to floss them.