Preventive Medicine
By Dr. Max E. Ficken

The focus of health care in our pets as it is in your own health care is to prevent problems before they start. This includes annual physical exams, vaccinations, parasite prevention, diet and dental care and many other items too extensive for this forum.

Annual physical exams are important in order to detect early signs of disease and potential health problems, and minimize their effects on our pet’s health. Since a calendar year in our pug’s life is comparable to 6-7 years in our life, annual exams are mandatory; and if health problems are detected, more frequent exams are necessary. We recommend a blood profile by age 7 years if no previous blood chemistry tests have been run. This establishes base lines for future reference should problems develop. Early detection of kidney disease and heart problems plays a very important role in treatment and the response to treatment.

Vaccinations have played a major role in the prevention of disease in modern medicine and have significantly improved the health of our pets. Vaccinations against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvo Virus and Corona Virus starting at 6 weeks of age are imperative for a puppy’s well-being. The law requires rabies vaccination between 3 and 4 months of age and booster vaccinations are given annually depending on state and local laws. Vaccinations are available for Lymes disease and Leptospirosis where these diseases are a risk.

Prevention of heart worm disease is started at 6-9 weeks of age and maintained for life on a regular basis depending on your veterinarian’s recommendation. Annual testing for heart worms starting by at least 2 years of age is important to detect lapses in protections that might result in heart damage because of undetected heart worm infections.

Testing for intestinal parasites start at 4-6 weeks of age and de-worming as needed following the veterinarian’s recommendation. Some of the heart worm preventives will minimize the risk of intestinal parasites. The flea tapeworms are transmitted to dogs and cats by ingestion of adult fleas. Flea control will minimize risk of infection. Another tapeworm is transmitted by ingestion of Rodents. Preventing hunting will minimize risk. Your veterinarian has effective treatments if your pet becomes infected with tapeworms. Using Advantage, Revolution, or Frontline regularly will prevent fleas and protect your pet. Frontline and Revolution are also effective in preventing ticks.

Proper diet consisting of a quality food and a minimum of table food will prevent many problems associated with breathing and arthritis. I recommend that as your pug reaches adulthood the weight be carefully monitored. I want to be able to feel the backbone and the ribs but not see them. If you have trouble feeling the backbone and ribs, it is every likely that the dog is overweight. Decreasing all food intake by 30-40 percent will usually result in weight loss; and after the loss, monitoring food intake to keep it off is very important. (See earlier article on weight management.)

Brushing your pug’s teeth 3-4 times weekly starting at 12 weeks of age will help prevent tarter buildup and train your pet to allow you to care for the teeth properly while they are in the early formative stage and more agreeable to treatment.