Pet Care

Education and Assessment Help Protect Pets From Disease Risks

Pets, like people, are frequently exposed to a variety of organisms that can cause disease or illness. Now, a new educational campaign is helping pet owners understand their pet's disease risks and, most importantly, what to do to protect them.

The National Pet Wellness "Being a Pet is Risky Business" campaign, sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Fort Dodge Animal Health, is underway at thousands of veterinary clinics nationwide.

"All cats and dogs, including indoor pets, are at some level of risk," says AVMA President Roger K. Mahr, DVM. "Fortunately, disease risks can be reduced through better pet owner education, regular wellness exams and disease-risk assessment from a veterinarian."

Pets can be exposed to disease-causing organisms in many common areas such as parks, backyards and even inside the home. These organisms can be spread by:

  • Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes
  • Wildlife
  • Other pets, even if they appear healthy
  • Drinking from puddles or standing water
  • Contact with another animal's urine or stools
  • People -- on hands, clothing or shoes

Risk assessment helps veterinarians determine the diseases each pet may be exposed to and the best ways to prevent them. Risk assessment begins with a veterinarian or veterinary technician asking a variety of questions about the pet's behavior, lifestyle, travel history and other factors.

Questions include:

  • Does your pet go outdoors unsupervised?
  • Is there wildlife in your area?
  • Does your pet have the opportunity to drink from puddles or ponds?
  • Do you own more than one pet?

Based on the answers, the veterinarian develops an individualized disease prevention program, including vaccinations, that are right for the pet.

"At-risk pets can be protected from many common yet deadly diseases such as leptospirosis, Lyme disease, feline leukemia virus, calicivirus, giardia and rabies," says Craig S. Wallace, Vice President -- Marketing, Fort Dodge Animal Health. "We encourage all pet owners to schedule a wellness exam with their veterinarian twice a year."

National Pet Wellness is a clinic-centered educational campaign sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association and Fort Dodge Animal Health. Nearly 15,000 veterinary clinics nationwide currently participate. Additional information about pet wellness, disease-risk assessment and prevention is available at

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