Benefits of Human and Animal Bonds

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Continuum of care is the future of animal health, says Zoetis

Johannesburg, 13 May 20: There is a clear shift in traditional ways of practicing veterinary medicine. Animal health companies, such as Zoetis, are revolutionising animal healthcare by providing veterinarians with integrated solutions to predict, prevent, detect and treat disease.

Prevention is better than cure

“Pharmaceutical companies and veterinarians are promoting preventative care because it is far easier and more cost-effective to prevent illnesses than to treat them. Point-of-care diagnostic instruments and tests now play an increasingly vital role, making it possible for veterinarians and pet owners to monitor health and detect disease in animals in minutes. The continuum of care is the future of animal health and will definitely help to extend the length and quality of life of our beloved companions,” says Dr. Liza le Roux, Technical Manager, Companion Animal Team at Zoetis South Africa.

Emerging Trends in Pet Ownership

Le Roux adds that, as pets increasingly become part of humans’ inner circles, a whole new set of pet trends and challenges are emerging.

Already, a growing body of work has proven that pets make you healthier.  Researchers have linked a close relationship with a pet to lower blood pressure, increased cardiovascular health and fitness and even improved immunity. As a result, Zoetis has a long-standing commitment to exploring the science behind the human-animal bond through investing in independent research into the benefits of companion animals.

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Pets help people who suffer from illnesses

The greater humanization of pets has been linked to improved quality of life. This has impacted on cancer patients, as well as assisted with caring for the aged and even treating conditions such as autism and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).¹

Researchers have shown how pets improve childhood development, build social and communication skills and boost youngsters’ self-esteem. There is also significant evidence that pets can help with a variety of mental disorders, including anxiety, depression and loneliness.

More and more pets are now sleeping inside the home

“Many pets no longer sleep outside in a kennel, a barn or a cage. They’ve moved inside our homes and into our bedrooms and our beds. They, and unfortunately their parasites, sleep next to us as well as close to our children! The proximity of pets to people has made basic hygiene all the more important, in particular, parasite control,” says le Roux.

The Importance of Disease Control

Fleas and ticks threaten the health of both pets and people because they transmit potentially dangerous disease agents. 

Ticks: In South Africa, tick fever and tick bite fever are of particular concern. “If you cannot effectively control ticks, then they can transmit these potentially lethal diseases to dogs. Ticks can also move from animals to humans and can transmit dangerous pathogens,” says le Roux.

Fleas:  The same goes for fleas. In addition to causing itchiness and flea allergy dermatitis, fleas are also intermediate hosts for Dipylidium tapeworm. Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to tapeworm infections due to their playing habits and close proximity to pets.

Solutions to consider Parasite Control

Le Roux says that a great deal of research and investment goes into parasite control. An example is the recently launched Simparica (sarolaner), a monthly, tasty chewable tablet for the control of fleas, ticks and mites. Developed by a global team of Zoetis scientists, it delivers comprehensive parasite protection, because it covers the most important and common parasites in dogs.

“Simparica was selected based on its structural uniqueness, potency, safety for dogs and ability to remain effective for a full month. For cat parasite control, Revolution is our monthly spot-on solution,” says le Roux.

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More and more pets are now socialising too

There is also inevitably greater socialization not just between pets and humans but also between pets. Le Roux says: “Almost every single weekend, there is a doggy day or walk or doggy adventure trails. Because there’s a lot of interaction between animals, we need to keep vaccinations up to date to prevent transmission of diseases between our animal friends.”

Preventative Disease Control Options

Le Roux says that vaccines not only prevent pet to pet but also pet to human transmission of killer diseases like rabies. “That’s why it is law in South Africa to vaccinate all animals against rabies. Any mammal can contract and transmit rabies.”

The best way that pet owners can reign in their spending is to focus on preventative care, adds le Roux. 

Annual Health Examinations are Important

A yearly booster vaccine is recommended, accompanied by a full annual health examination by your vet. “This can help to identify conditions that may not have been noticed so treatment can begin far sooner. Dental disease is the most common condition found during an annual check-up. This is not just ‘bad breath’. It is estimated that, by the age of three, 70% of pets will have some degree of dental disease.  Early intervention means happier and healthier pets.”

Save on Veterinary Bills

“Another example is parvovirus, which causes deadly bloody diarrhea in pups. If you start with and stick to an effective vaccination program and prevent a parvo outbreak in your household, - provided you have pet insurance - you can save as much as R8 000 in veterinary bills,” concludes le Roux.   

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