Wellness Exams – Twice for Life!
“It is easier to stay healthy than to get healthy…”
The A.V.M.A. (American Veterinary Medical Association) endorses 2 visits per year for companion animals – we like to to perform annual vaccines at one visit and then lifestyle appropriate vaccines and blood work at the second visit. Our pets age an average of 7 years for each 1 human year. Your pet’s health can change quickly over a one–year period, making it more difficult to prevent, detect and treat conditions early. Going to the veterinarian once a year for a pet is like a human going for a check-up every 4-9 years, while semi-annual exams are more similar to you going to the doctor every 2-3 years.
Exams are not only a chance for your pet to get preventative care such as vaccines and heartworm preventatives, but they also give veterinarians a chance to detect diseases early— even before your pet shows signs of being sick. All parts of the visit play an important role in keeping your pet healthy.
What to Expect During an Examination
When you are first taken back to an exam room one of our technicians will ask several questions about your pet – Knowing as much information as we can about your dog or cat allows us to provide preventive health care recommendations tailored to your pet’s unique needs. We’ll ask about what type of foods and treats your pet eats, where your pet visits geographically, and what type of exercise and activities your pet may participate in.
Next, one of our veterinarians will perform a comprehensive nose-to-tail examination after reviewing your pet’s history. A technician assistant will assist the doctor with the exam; ensuring your dog’s comfort and safety.
In addition to a thorough physical exam, we may discuss nutrition, dental care, parasite control, and chronic disease problems, such as arthritis, that your pet may face with age.
The recommendations are based on your dog’s age, breed, medical history and lifestyle. Core Vaccines include Rabies, Distemper, Bordetella (Kennel Cough) and Leptospirosis. Bordetella is a twice-yearly vaccine. Our veterinarians may also recommend additional vaccines such as Lyme and Influenza.
Having your pet vaccinated appropriately has been shown to reduce the incidence of some preventable illnesses.
Click here to learn more about our vaccinations!
We like to discuss parasite control products at all visits. These products are used to control parasites such as heartworms, intestinal parasites (like round worms or hookworms), fleas and ticks. Controlling these parasites helps protect your dog and your family members from easily transmitted parasites. Every year there are more than 300,000 diagnosed cases of Heartworm Disease in dogs. This is a life threatening illness that can be difficult and expensive to treat. We recommend year round heartworm prevention for your pet, and we have many options to make this affordable for you and your family.
A wellness exam may include testing for intestinal parasites and heartworm to ensure that your parasite control products are working. This testing will confirm that your pet is not a host to parasites that can infest other pets, and people. You can learn more about diagnostic testing and how it works below.
Depending on what your pet is due for, the age of your pet, and the risk factors that are specific to your pet’s situation we will perform various diagnostic testing to confirm the absence of heartworms or other internal parasites. We also recommend early disease screening tests and wellness blood work to help identify any internal issues which cannot be detected during a thorough physical exam.
Diagnostic Testing requires collecting samples of blood, urine or stool. If you prefer to bring a stool sample in, please bring a marble size sample in a zip lock bag. If you do not bring a sample with you, a technician will collect one at the beginning of your appointment. Screening a stool sample for intestinal parasites is an important public health service, because pets can serve as hosts to several intestinal parasites that can infect people and cause disease, especially in children and the immunocompromised. This test is recommended twice a year.
Diagnostic testing of blood gives baseline values for your pet, which can be very helpful to compare to if he gets sick. We recommend your pet having a Wellness Health Screen and urinalysis at least once a year, and sometimes twice a year. More than 10% of pets brought in to veterinary clinics for annual check-ups have some form of underlying disease or abnormality. A vast majority of these pets have a normal physical examination, and their abnormalities would go undetected without diagnostic bloodwork.
The process of disease development can be slow and insidious; when an organ system starts to fail that organ will try to compensate to bring function back to normal. Over time this compensating mechanism will fail, and the pet will become very ill. Once the pet is in organ failure, your treatment options are limited and the prognosis is poor!
However, with diagnostic testing our office is capable of performing a simple blood test that will check your pet’s liver, kidneys, pancreas, electrolytes, minerals and blood sugar. It also can alert us to infection, inflammatory disease, and anemia.
Early detection of disease is the key. Once a problem has been identified, appropriate treatment recommendations can be made. A lot of times a simple change in diet is all that is needed to avoid major health problems in your pet.
Geriatric dogs and cats may be silent sufferers from arthritis, so a semi-annual visit is also important to find joint pain in the hips, elbows, neck and spine. It is important for the owner to realize that many of these conditions can be treated and the early detection can aid therapy.
Once your pet turns 7, and even younger in some larger breeds, we will recommend more comprehensive testing for your pets. In addition to an exam every 6 months we may want to run more comprehensive blood work on more frequent basis. Some medications that your pet may be prescribed require more frequent testing of liver and kidney functions, and some breeds are more prone to illness. Your pet’s exams will be tailored to meet their specific needs. The veterinarian will also discuss other services, such as dental care or microchipping, that will benefit your dog’s overall health and well being and advise you on any questions you might have regarding your pet’s health.
To learn more about our senior care services, click here!
Younger pets require a series of vaccines to provide the immunity that they need. In most cases these “booster” vaccines are given over three or four visits. Once your puppy or kitten has reached 16 weeks of age, they are ready for their first Rabies vaccine. During these first few visits the veterinarian will also test your pet’s stool for internal parasites and de-worm your pet. Many puppies and kittens require more than one internal parasite test and de-worming. We will also discuss spaying or neutering your pet as well as microchipping, diet, and lifestyle.
Unfortunately, even with the best preventative care, pets sometimes become ill or injured. We are always willing to work in a sick pet, so please call us at the first sign of illness. In almost all cases it is easier and cheaper to treat illness and injury sooner rather than later. Because every illness and injury is different, each visit will be different.
For the safety and security of your pet, please keep them on a leash or in a carrier. If your pet is critically ill, please notify the staff immediately. Depending on the symptoms that your pet displays, we may ask you to wait outside or in a quarantined area.