January 26, 2015
“It’s up to you guys to make sure your pets are well taken care of.”
This was the overarching message Dr. Bridgette Johnson, President of the Bahamas Veterinary Association, delivered to years four, five, and six students at St. Andrews School on January 21.
Dr. Johnson’s presentation, ‘Caring for Our Pets’, is part of a campaign by Washington, DC-based Pet Food Institute to increase awareness about overall pet health, including the importance of a proper diet, exercise, and veterinary care for dogs, cats, and other domestic pets. It’s the first time the Pet Food Institute has taken on a campaign in The Bahamas and part of a regional effort to help drive better care for domestic pets in four Caribbean countries.
Less than half the students knew what spay or neuter meant, but had a pretty good idea as to why pets need proper exercise. Madison Smith volunteered lack of exercise leads to dogs being hyper.
Among Dr. Johnson’s advice – spay or neuter your pet while early, don’t wait until a pet is sick to visit a vet -- visits should be once or twice a year for preventative measures – and always make sure your pet is on a flea and tick preventative. “If you see ticks or fleas, come to the vet right away for a check-up and medication,” Dr. Johnson noted.
Hands flew in the air, excited for a chance to ask Dr. Johnson a question. Why are grapes bad for dogs? Do booster shots hurt puppies? Why are bones harmful?
Dr. Johnson quickly shot back answers to the students, matching their enthusiasm. “A scientific reason hasn’t been determined yet, but whatever is in grapes causes acute kidney failure that can lead to death,” she said while assuring the students booster shots only hurt sometimes. She stressed bones can splinter and sharp edges cause punctures and can lead to infection, injuries or even death.
A student asked Dr. Johnson, whether or not to feed pets cooked food. She replied, “You should always make sure your pet has the right type of pet food for that specific kind of pet at their specific life stage.”
The Pet Food Institute’s campaign is aimed at teaching proper pet care in four countries in the region including The Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Trinidad and Jamaica. Similar programs have provided results in Japan and Mexico with greater understanding of animals’ needs and well-being.