If you own a pet, its health should be taken very seriously.

Pets and livestock have become a big part of people’s lives, with the black community slowly treating and viewing them as members of the family rather than just animals.

It is therefore essential that farmers and pet owners in rural areas are aware of the importance of proper preventive veterinary care to ensure optimal animal health, advises the Vice President and Veterinarian of the South African Veterinary Council , Dr. Nomsa Mnisi.

According to Mnisi, animal health is often treated as a service for the wealthy.

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“But it’s not, it’s for everyone. It is a basic need, like water and electricity. As veterinary professionals, we need to take the lead and raise awareness of the importance of animal health and then go out into the communities with the same message,” Mnisi said.

She believes that animal health is closely linked to human and environmental health.

“If these (primary health care) issues are not adequately addressed through awareness and education campaigns, animal disease outbreaks could ultimately pose a threat to food production and security, as well as public health,” she continued.

The main issues that pet owners and farmers in rural areas face are distance to veterinary services and affordability in an emergency.

Mnisi said an obvious solution would be to educate rural farmers and pet owners about the importance of health care. She said there are many health tips that pet and livestock owners can follow to ensure optimal animal health. Vaccination is one of the most affordable means for pets and livestock.

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She said vaccinations against diseases such as brucellosis and anthrax, which are offered free of charge by state veterinary services in most cases, and vaccination of dogs and cats against rabies are optimal.

“The best low-budget way to track animal health issues is through prevention. Owners should vaccinate their animals and apply other preventative measures like good nutrition, housing, basically good husbandry. They should treat their animals like their children, vaccinate them at six weeks of age, check for any abnormalities and deal with them immediately before it becomes expensive or even takes the animal’s life,” Mnisi explained.

“This will prevent your pets from eating anything they come across which could be harmful. Not only will your pets be safe from disease, but they will look good, which is good for your emotional health” Finally, Mnisi advised pet owners to purchase pet insurance of their choice as this can help in emergency situations.

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