An unprotected pet is highly susceptible to serious—and potentially fatal—illness and disease. Fortunately for your furry pal, you can minimize their risk for contracting infectious illnesses, despite Guam’s overwhelming stray pet population and rampant disease. By embracing regular wellness care at Guam Pet Hospital and practicing hygiene and safety protocols at home, you can help reduce your pet’s potential for infection. The following five recommendations can help limit the spread of disease in your household, and keep your pet safe from infectious diseases.
#1: Protect your pet from disease whenever possible
The high number of stray pets, frequent flooding, and inadequate disease and parasite prevention for pets living on Guam means the potential for disease transmission is extremely high. If your pet frequently wanders outdoors unattended, their risk for contracting illness skyrockets. Protect your pet from disease as much as possible by keeping your dog on a leash when outdoors, fencing in your backyard, and keeping your cat strictly indoors. Young puppies should always be kept indoors until their vaccination series is fully complete, as their infection risk is much higher without proper vaccination.
#2: Encourage your pet’s immune system development
Guam’s large stray population contributes greatly to the spread of infectious diseases, such as distemper and parvovirus in dogs, and calicivirus, panleukopenia, and leukemia in cats. Because of this risk, allowing your young pet to step a paw outside until they have completed their vaccination series can be dangerous. Older pets who received a full course of puppy or kitten vaccines also can be susceptible to disease if their adult vaccination boosters have lapsed.
To ensure your puppy’s immune system against disease develops properly, schedule regular appointments at our hospital. At a minimum, all puppies should receive three sets of core vaccinations spaced three weeks apart. Some breeds, such as bully breeds, German shepherds, rottweilers, and Dobermans, should receive four vaccination rounds during their initial puppy visits. After your pet has received their full course of puppy or kitten vaccinations, they should be vaccinated annually to stimulate their immune system’s response to disease.
#3: Feed your pet a proper diet
Good nutrition and a proper diet go a long way toward keeping pets healthy. A malnourished pet cannot fight off disease or parasitic infections, as their immune system and body does not have the appropriate energy reserves to battle illness. Provide an excellent foundation for a strong, healthy pet by feeding your puppy a high quality puppy food at least three times a day until your pet is 6 months old. Large- and giant-breed puppies can be kept on puppy food much longer, since they mature more slowly, and require food that has been specifically formulated for their growth with additional calories and the correct nutrient ratios. Once your pet reaches their adult size and weight, you can switch to an adult formula. Ask our team for help determining your pet’s body condition score, which will be a guideline for the food amount required each day to maintain a healthy weight.
#4: Protect your pet from parasites
Stray pets, wild animals, and the ideal environmental conditions create surging parasite populations that can infect your pet with all manner of health-sucking diseases. Left untreated, many parasitic diseases can be fatal, particularly in puppies and kittens. Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms, can leach nutrients from your pet’s intestinal tract and cause severe anemia to the point of death. Fleas and ticks can transmit numerous serious diseases, and significant infestations can lead to anemia in pets. Heartworms transmitted by mosquitoes are a huge problem in Guam, and can cause permanent scarring to your dog’s cardiovascular system, and sometimes death, despite treatment. In cats, a single adult heartworm can prove fatal. Because parasites can cause such severe conditions, year-round prevention is essential to keep your pet healthy. Ask for advice on the best parasite prevention method for your pet, and ensure you administer it on time, every time.
#5: Engage in strict hygiene protocols to minimize disease transmission
Your pet may never go outside, but they can still suffer from infectious diseases. Many illnesses are spread through indirect contact, meaning you can carry pathogens into your home. If you’ve been around a sick pet, or visited a friend’s house with unvaccinated animals, change your clothing and wash your hands before touching your pet. Avoid wearing your shoes indoors, as you can track in viruses and bacteria, along with parasite-infested feces. By practicing good hygiene after being outdoors and around other pets, you can limit your pet’s risk of disease exposure.
Keeping your pet safe from disease requires an entire veterinary team, and you can rely on your Guam Pet Hospital team to help protect your furry pal from infectious diseases. Schedule an appointment for your pet’s vital preventive care.