Protecting Your Pet with Dr. Oz
Dr. Louise Murray, the director of medicine for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and author of Vet Confidential: An Insider's Guide to Protecting Your Pet, says there are a few things you need to know before you chose a veterinarian to care for your animal.
Instead of just flipping through the Yellow Pages, turn to friends for veterinarian recommendations, Dr. Murray says. Then, visit the veterinarian's office and ask if he has these two important pieces of medical equipment:
- Blood pressure-measuring equipment: "Most pets in this country have never had their blood pressure measured, and it's just as important in pets as it is in people," she says.
- Pulse oximeter: This is a piece of equipment that measures the oxygen level in your pet's blood stream. Dr. Murray says it's important for a number of reasons. "If your pet is under anesthesia, one of the most dangerous things that can happen is that their oxygen level can drop," she says. "If you don't have a pulse oximeter on that pet ... there is no way for the veterinarian or pet to know the pet is getting into trouble until that pet stops breathing."
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia (FVRCP) is the main viral vaccination for cats, and Dr. Murray says it protects from widespread diseases.
- Rabies vaccine
- Canine Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza (DA2PP) vaccine is one Dr. Murray says every dog should have. It protects dogs from several common viruses.
- Rabies vaccine
Veterinarian Dr. Marty Goldstein has an alternative approach to veterinary care and shares his views on how to prolong the lives of cats and dogs:
- Yearly vaccinations are not necessary. "Vaccinate at 12 weeks of age or older with a distemper and parvo vaccine—not a combination of four, five, six, seven [vaccines] in one—[and then] never vaccinate again in the life of the dog," Dr. Goldstein says. If you want, you can have your pet tested yearly to see if any vaccines have worn off, he says.
- Yearly blood samples are necessary. "Blood is the mirror of life," he says. "From that blood, we'll recommend a specific supplementation."
- Use daily supplements for preventative purposes. "[Give] vitamins as they start getting older, antioxidants, a good multivitamin, minerals and fish oil," he says.
- Buy pet food made with raw meat. Dr. Goldstein says cats and dogs are carnivores, but today's popular pet foods are made from byproducts of the cereal industry. The grain-heavy food is not good for the health of your animal, he says. "It plugs the system up, it overdoes the pancreas [and] it serves as a basis for allergies."
- Don't feed your pet an all raw meat diet. Because cats and dogs have not been on an all raw meat diet for generations, putting them on one could be dangerous, Dr. Goldstein says. "A raw meat diet balanced with either a proper calcium supplement or with crushed bone with some vegetation is the ideal way to go," he says.
- Make your pet's food at home. If you don't have access to raw meat pet food, cook meats for your animal in your home, Dr. Goldstein says. "I'm talking foods—lambs and chickens and turkeys and beef and things like that," he says.
Dr. Becker says pet owners can prevent their pets from getting dehydrated and succumbing to heat exhaustion in warmer months by making sure they have plenty of fresh drinking water and never leaving them in an excessively hot environment such as a car or a portable kennel.
Also, avoid walking pets during the hottest part of the day, he says, or on scorching concrete sidewalks. Not sure if it's too hot for Fido? Put the palm of your hand on the sidewalk— if it's too hot for your hand, it's too hot for your pet's paws, Dr. Becker says.
Flying projectiles from lawn mowers can seriously injure pets, Dr. Becker says. Make sure your pet is confined to the house or another area that's away from where you're mowing.
Also, keep pets away from pesticides and fertilizers, Dr. Becker says. Look into using pet-friendly, organic pest repellents wherever possible.
Proper Diet and Exercise
About 50 percent of American pets are overweight or obese, Dr. Becker says. "It's the same exact causes [as humans]— too much food in their mouths, too few miles on their feet," he says. All year long, make sure pets eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise, he says.