We all know that prevention is better than cure, but it's is more than just yearly vaccination. Did you know that we actually practice four levels of prevention – primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary?

But not all preventive activities are effective or needed for every pet – prevention need to be tailored for you pet based on individual risks.

Primary prevention

Primary prevention is all about protecting health and preventing the onset of disease. It involves taking action before there is any sign of disease or injury.

Examples of primary prevention include:

  • vaccination to protect against the effects of a disease agent (virus or bacteria)
  • good nutrition
  • dental care
  • neutering
  • parasite control (eg fleas, ticks, heartworm)
  • teaching pet owners about potential risks to avoid (eg lilies for cats and grapes for dogs)

Secondary prevention

Secondary prevention is about catching things early (before symptoms appear). It involves screening tests and procedures to detect serious conditions as soon as possible so we can intervene to slow or stop progression and maybe even reverse the disease.

Examples of secondary prevention include:

  • regular general examinations
  • pre-general anaesthetic blood testing
  • the SDMA blood test to detect early kidney disease
  • teaching pet owners about the early signs of disease to should watch for, and what type of treatment to seek 

Tertiary prevention

Tertiary prevention is about reducing the impact of an ongoing condition. This involve drug and non-drug management of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, thyroid disease and arthritis.

Quaternary prevention

Quaternary prevention is about protecting patients against over-medicalisation. This involves avoiding unnecessary testing and treatment.