Premium pet foods may be hip, but that doesn't make them better, according to AVMA President Dr. Douglas Aspros. "There is no evidence to suggest that raw or natural diets will prolong pets' lives," Dr. Aspros said.
Pet owners can help protect themselves from diseases animals may carry by seeking regular, complete veterinary care for pets and by following good hygiene practices, experts say. Different species present certain pathogen risks. Veterinarian and AVMA Past President Dr. Douglas Aspros says owners can help stop parasite transmission from their dogs by following their veterinarian's deworming advice. Cats can be a source of pathogens, but they are not a major source of toxoplasmosis infection in humans as people commonly think, Dr. Aspros said. Eating raw or undercooked meat is the most common way people develop toxoplasmosis.
Canine influenza has pet owners worried, particularly as possible cases are spotted outside the Chicago area, where it has infected more than 1,000 dogs. "It is an epidemic. It's not, however, something that people should panic about," said AVMA Past President Dr. Douglas Aspros. People with dogs whose immune systems are compromised or puppies should keep their pets away from other dogs, and owners who think their dog might be sick should see a veterinarian.
Pet owners might see higher costs under the Affordable Care Act because the 2.3% tax the law imposes on medical devices affects many of those used in veterinary care. "We are not getting any more patients from the Affordable Care Act, and we should not be pulled into this," said AVMA Past President Dr. Douglas Aspros.
More Americans than ever are adopting pets, with ownership rates rising fastest among never-married, widowed, separated and divorced people, according to data from the AVMA's newest Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook. "Unfortunately, despite these positive trends, people aren't bringing their pets into the veterinarian as often as they should," said AVMA President Dr. Douglas Aspros. One-quarter of pet owners didn't take their animals in for medical care in 2011, up 14.3% from 2006.
The AVMA designated February as National Pet Dental Health Month to highlight the importance of oral care for overall animal health. The majority of adult cats and dogs have dental disease, and if left untreated, the condition can have serious consequences. "Dental problems are extremely common, and many are very painful and can lead to serious systemic conditions," said AVMA President Dr. Douglas Aspros. "An untreated dental infection can spread to the heart, kidneys and other organs and suddenly become life-threatening."