The more you know about your pet's health, the better off your furry companion will be. Dr. Oz talks with veterinarian Dr. Louise Murray, the director of medicine for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), about how to keep your pet safe and healthy for years to come.
Cats and heights: While cats are naturally excellent climbers, Dr. Murray says owners should not overestimate a cat's ability to gauge the potential danger of man-made heights. For example, a high-rise building is not something a cat would normally encounter in the wild. To prevent serious injury, she says to keep cats away from ledges, porches or balconies that are very high off the ground and to install sturdy screens in all your windows.
Choosing a vet: It's important to pick your veterinarian as carefully as you would your own physician, Dr. Murray says. Do your homework, check references and compare credentials. "There is a real difference between vets," she says.
Teacup dogs: Dr. Murray says she would advise against buying a teacup dog, which is any dog that weighs less than three pounds when full grown. She says teacup dogs often have serious health problems and can be easily injured due to their size. "It's frustrating because these dogs are very unhealthy, and yet it's very difficult to help them because they're so tiny we don't even have the instruments to help them," she says.
Pet insurance: Whether it's getting pet insurance or putting aside a little emergency fund, people do need to be prepared for the future of their pet's health, Dr. Murray says. Life-saving veterinary bills can be costly and can come when you least expect them, so the key is to plan ahead, she says.
Dogs and bones: Dr. Murray cautions against giving any bones to dogs—especially chicken bones or any type of cooked bone—as they can easily get lodged in the esophagus or intestines. If you do feel the need to give your dog a bone, she says very large, solid bones that dogs absolutely cannot splinter are fine.
Printed from Oprah.com on Wednesday, December 11, 2013