As pet parents, we try to give our little ones the best care, but it can be hard because they can’t tell us what’s wrong. However, if you stay aware of potential health problems and their risk factors, you can prevent them altogether.
“My pet is the most important member of our home, and we make sure she is well groomed,” says Indian homemaker Sunita Kewal Panchal, 42, who has an American Cocker Spaniel, Cookie for the past five years. 
Cookie has a grooming appointment every five weeks. “The groomer washes and dries her fur, cuts nails and hair, cleans her anal glands, checks the dental health, ears and also for worms or any other skin or health issues. Moreover, her routine check-ups have kept her free from any health issues.” 
Panchal says Cookie is the best antidepressant and feels all owners should handle their pets like a child. “Do not compromise when it comes to their needs and necessities,” she says. “Feed the best quality food; take them for regular grooming and health check-ups. Also, maintain deworming every three months and a monthly front-line routine. Even a yearly vaccination is necessary. Lastly, microchip your pet as it helps when they get lost.”

Regular care
Brazilian Alice Seelig Andreghetto’s three dogs — Joseph, Maria and Angie — bring joy to her home. “Compared to my home country, Dubai is expensive for vet check-ups and grooming,” the 35-year-old former flight attendant says. “If you decide to have a pet, be prepared to take care of it until the end of its life.”
Andreghetto’s dogs have gone through illnesses such as epilepsy, ear infection, gastritis, cysts, ear infection, urine infection, skin problems and spine issues. They were treated mostly with oral medication, except for the spine problem that required the dog to undergo acupuncture. “Even grooming is essential, so do this at least once a month and bathe them weekly,” she says. “Dental care can be done daily at home.” 

Fatal ailments
Dr Katrin Jahn, General Manager and Head Veterinarian at German Veterinary Clinic, says many serious infectious diseases affect pets in the UAE and they can be life-threatening too. “Viral diseases such as parvovirus for dogs and cats and the cat flu viruses are dangerous for pets that are not vaccinated,” says Dr Jahn. “Parvovirus can be lethal for both dogs and cats, and cat flu viruses can cause lifelong damage to cats.”
Additionally, diseases that are transmitted by external parasites such as ticks are becoming more and more prevalent in the UAE, as well as cases of Ehrlichia and occasionally Babesia in dogs. Due to the UAE’s climate, dehydration can be a problem and can cause both kidney and urinary tract diseases.
Other illnesses that are not so life-threatening include upper respiratory tract infections, kidney diseases, urinary tract infections in cats, skin conditions and allergies, and gastrointestinal upsets in dogs.

Preventative measures
The most critical step is to follow an appropriate vaccination regime. “It is important that animals are vaccinated correctly, especially the first time and then at appropriate intervals after that,” says Dr Jahn.
“We also strongly advise the regular use of external parasite treatments to safeguard against ticks and other external parasites. Internal parasite treatment (deworming) should be given every three months to adult animals. Also, make sure your pet has a healthy, appropriate diet is kept at ambient temperatures in the summer months and always has access to fresh, clean water,” she says.
Pet owners must take their pets for health checks once every six months, where a veterinarian will check the pet’s weight, dental health and advise them on vaccine regimes and internal and external parasite treatment. 

Dental issues
Regular dental checks are important as dental and oral health can affect your pets’ overall health. “We can advise on teeth cleaning and other preventative measures,” says Dr Katrin Jahn, General Manager and Head Veterinarian at German Veterinary Clinic. “Many of our pets benefit from regular grooming, especially in the summer months, as it keeps them cool.”