Good health is a prerequisite of an animal’s welfare. An animal’s health may deteriorate for a number of reasons. In addition to various pathogens, factors affecting health include the nutrition and care the animal receives, its living and environmental conditions, and hereditary factors. Their interaction often determines whether or not the animal becomes sick. Sometimes an animal may become ill suddenly, but some illnesses and contagious diseases may progress gradually and with few symptoms.
Illness in an animal may be prevented through good care, a living environment suitable for the species, sensible breeding, and by preventing the spread of pathogens via animal trade and breeding, manure, dead animals, or humans, as well as between wild and domestic animals. Vaccinations can be used to prevent some infectious diseases from spreading from one animal to another. In looking after a sick animal, medications suitable for the species may be used.
Animal health and contagious diseases occurring in animals are monitored by means of clinical examination of animals, on the basis of yield monitoring of production animals, by taking samples from sick and healthy animals, and by examining specimens or deceased animals at Finnish food Authority to determine pathogens or changes indicating disease.
The owners of the animals play an important role in observing their own animals and contacting a veterinary surgeon on finding symptoms of an illness or contagious disease in an animal. In cases of the most serious contagious diseases, the legislation on veterinary medicine lays down a duty of notification concerning producers and veterinary practitioners, and based on these, the authorities order measures to eradicate the infection.