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Medical exams are the most important part of every pet’s health care. Pets often hide symptoms of disease, and a physical exam along with a thorough history can help us identify problems, diagnose diseases and make recommendations for a treatment plan. Early detection of medical conditions allows us to cure or manage a disease for a better outcome for the pet, and a savings of health care costs. Our experienced doctors work together, discussing cases, sharing their special interests and expertise, and communicate with clients to create the most effective health care plan for the patient.
Following a few easy preventive guidelines can help make sure that your pet stays healthy, and you save money.
Immunizing or vaccinating a pet is a safe, smart, and inexpensive protection against a variety of deadly diseases that are known to infect both dogs and cats. By following a regular vaccination schedule, your pet will make antibodies to those specific viruses and will have protection if they are exposed. Diseases such as canine parvovirus, canine distemper, feline leukemia, feline distemper (panleukopenia), and rabies are all easily prevented by the administration of regular vaccinations during the pet’s lifetime. Each of the above mentioned infectious diseases threaten the pet’s life, and can be extremely costly to treat.
Not all pets need all available vaccines. Pet Doctors follows the Vaccination Guidelines published for both the dog and the cat which categorize vaccines as CORE or NON-CORE. Core vaccines are those that every dog and every cat should receive because of the prevalence and seriousness of the disease. Non-core vaccines are those that the practice considers to be indicated for pets at high risk, unique to the individual dog or cat. For example, we may discuss a Lyme vaccine for dogs that camp up north, with high exposure to the deer tick that transmits the disease. We tailor our recommendations to each pet’s age, exposure risk, and lifestyle.
Puppies and kittens present a special case. Because the immunity from their mother is waning in those early months, and they are more seriously affected if exposed, it is important to boost their protection against disease, with vaccines given at much shorter intervals. We will work with clients to create the best vaccination schedule for their individual pets.
A simple vaccination will keep your pet from suffering from or even losing their life to a preventable disease. While the subject may spark controversy among some, following your veterinarian’s advice is still the best course of action. Vaccinated pets do not contract or die from these diseases. Sadly, we often do lose unvaccinated pets to diseases that could have been prevented. You can watch an interesting video about vaccinations by visiting www.VetNewsNet.com.
When puppies and kittens are born, their mothers pass on some natural immunity to diseases. As they grow, the antibodies slowly diminish. They require multiple vaccinations to keep the antibodies at a safe level, protecting their little bodies.
Depending on the age that your puppy/kitten starts their vaccinations, a veterinarian will determine how many they receive. We recommend that they start receiving the distemper combo vaccine at 6-8 weeks. They should continue the series every 3 to 4 weeks until 16 weeks of age.
Once your pet reaches 16 weeks of age, they can receive the rabies vaccine. The distemper combo and rabies are core vaccines that are recommended for every pet. Because of the risk of human exposure to this fatal disease, rabies vaccine is also required by city and state ordinances. While at your appointments, the veterinarian will give your pet a full physical exam and discuss your pet’s lifestyle. Based on this discussion they may recommend additional vaccinations.
Another very important part of wellness care is a fecal flotation test. This test checks for many common intestinal parasites such as tapeworms and roundworms. Intestinal parasites that dogs and cats carry may be zoonotic, which means they can be transferred to humans. According to the CDC (The Center for Disease Control), a recent national survey of shelters revealed that almost 36% of dogs nationwide harbored parasites capable of causing human disease. Not only does this test keep your pet healthy, it also protects the rest of your family and the community.
The only thing required for the test is an acorn-size portion of fresh stool. A small portion is analyzed under a microscope for the presence of parasite eggs. Since the eggs are not shed consistently, we recommend having two consecutive parasite-free stool samples. After that, stool samples should be checked twice a year. If eggs are found, the doctor will prescribe a medication that will rid your pet of the specific parasite(s) present.
A yearly wellness exam for pets one to six years of age is essential to keep your pet healthy. For comparison, this is the equivalent of visiting your own doctor every 7 years.
At the appointment, a thorough history is collected to see how your pet is doing, and the veterinarian will ask about any problems or changes you have noticed. Next, a complete physical exam is performed. The doctor will check their eyes, ears, teeth/gums, check skin and coat for rashes lumps and growths, palpate the abdomen for abnormalities or pain, and listen to your pet’s heart and lungs. Any vaccines that are due will be administered, and necessary tests will be run. The veterinarian will talk with you, and be able to address any questions or concerns you have. Nutrition and behavior recommendations can be discussed. Based on your pet’s lifestyle and activities, additional diagnostics or treatments that would be beneficial to your pet’s health will also be discussed.
Another very important part of wellness care is a fecal flotation test. This test checks for many common intestinal parasites, such as tapeworms and roundworms. Besides causing health problems for your pet, intestinal parasites that dogs and cats carry maybe zoonotic, which means they can be transferred to humans. The CDC (The Center for Disease Control) is recommending fecal tests twice a year. According to the CDC, a recent national survey of shelters revealed that almost 36% of dogs nationwide harbored parasites capable of causing human disease. (new paragraph)
Testing and treating for parasites not only keeps your pet healthy, it also protects the rest of your family and the community. The only thing needed to perform this test is an acorn size portion of fresh stool. If intestinal parasites or their eggs are found, the doctor will prescribe a medication that will rid your pet of the specific parasite(s).
Our healthcare team will also provide you with information and instructions on how to keep your pet’s teeth free of plaque and tartar, minimizing the need for a dental cleaning under anesthesia. See our website’s client education section for a video demonstration of proper home dental care.
Many pet owners believethat their four-legged friends are just going to live a relatively short life, get old, and pass on. But modern veterinary medicine can help pets live longermore comfortable lives. Catching problems early can make all the difference. Report and changes in appetite, thirst, bad breath, lumps, and changes in behavior. Talk your veterinarian often, and work out a senior wellness plan to help your pet live happy senior years.
Pets over the age of seven are considered seniors. As in all stages, our goal for the golden years of your pet’s life is to provide a healthy, comfortable, long life. The best way to do this is to catch diseases early. If illnesses and diseases are diagnosed and treated early, years and comfort can be added to your pet’s life.
Since changes happen rapidly in animals, senior wellness exams are performed every 6 months. We also recommend that blood and urine be tested once a year to check the “inside health” as well. At your pet’s senior wellness appointments, the doctor will perform a full physical exam and discuss any changes in your pet’s lifestyle. At this point, the doctor will review with you the different options available for blood work or other diagnostic testing, and make recommendations specific to your pet.
Our technicians use their training to collect lab samples, assist in surgery, and do many procedures for in-clinic treatment and inpatient care. They are also available for technician appointments, which can make a clinic visit more affordable. They are another partner in your pet’s health care team. Nail trims, booster vaccinations, micro-chipping and rechecks for medication refills can be schedule with a technician.
Proper dental care plays a critical role in a pet’s overall comfort and heath. A build-up of plaque contains thousands of bacteria that can enter the pet’s bloodstream and lead to heart, kidney and liver disease, and infected teeth are painful. It is amazing how quickly tartar can collect in your pet’s mouth, particularly on their back teeth. During exams the doctor will check your pet’s mouth for signs of dental disease. They will determine what grade of dental disease your pet has. The grades are numbered one to four, and are determined by the following criteria:
Grade 1 – Gingivitis
Margin of attached gingiva (gum) is inflamed and swollen. Some plaque is present. Treatment can reverse this condition.
Grade 2 – Early Periodontitis
Entire attached gum is inflamed and swollen. Mouth is painful and odor begins to be noticeable. Professional treatment and home dental care can prevent this from becoming irreversible.
Grade 3 – Moderate Periodontitis
Cherry red and bleeding attached gum is being destroyed by infection and calculus (tartar). Sore mouth affects eating and behavior. Bad breath is present. Beginning of the loss of tooth attachment. This may become irreversible.
Grade 4 – Advanced Periodontitis
Chronic bacterial infection is destroying the gum, tooth and bone. Bacteria may be spreading throughout the entire body via the bloodstream and may damage the kidneys, liver and heart.
If your pet is diagnosed with dental disease the doctor will recommend a dental cleaning. Depending on the grade of dental disease, there may also be dental x-rays needed and infected teeth may be extracted. Because general anesthesia is required, for the safety of your pet we recommend they have pre-anesthetic blood work done prior to surgery. The blood work checks the liver, kidneys and other body system function to help determine the safest anesthetic protocol for your pet.
Once the procedure has been scheduled the staff will go over pre-surgical instructions with you. These include:
- No food after 8:00 p.m. the night prior to surgery, but water should be available.Drop off the morning of the procedure at a previously scheduled time, allowing 15-20 minutes for check-in.
- When you arrive at the hospital the morning of the dental cleaning, one of our Client Service Representatives will ask a few basic questions and then escort you and your pet into an exam room. The surgery technician will (then REMOVE) discuss the procedure, review the treatment plan and answer any questions you may have.
Our surgical team is trained and equipped to provide your pet with the same level of surgical care you would expect for yourself and the rest of your family. We offer a wide variety of services, from elective outpatient procedures, abdominal and cancer surgeries, and some orthopedic corrections. For more specialized surgeries we also have the option of calling in a local board certified surgeon who can perform the procedure in our hospital. Our experienced surgical team utilizes pre-surgical exams, blood screens, fluid support, electronic monitoring and aggressive pain management protocols to minimize risk and maximize comfort for your pet.
There may come a time in your pet’s life when specific treatment of a disease or condition is no longer an option. This could be for a financial reason or because there are no treatments that would benefit your pet. In the advanced stages of diseases such as cancer, kidney failure, or neurological disorders, sometimes treatments cause pets pain or make them ill, without any hope of cure. At this point, you may want to speak to your veterinarian about the quality of your pet’s life and if aggressive treatments should be discontinued.
Essentially, hospice means providing palliative care (comfort-oriented rather than cure-oriented) until the animal dies or until the caregiver makes the decision to euthanize.
Pet hospice is a relatively new concept, and is modeled on the humane hospice movement. A hospice is not necessarily a particular place; it is a philosophy of care that is founded upon the principle that end-of-life care should and can be provided by the pet’s family, in a safe, caring, comfortable and familiar environment. Hospice is not an effort to cure the pet’s disease but to prevent the disease from causing pain and discomfort and to give the pet physical and emotional comfort during this intermediate stage between treatment and death.
A treatment plan will be developed between you and your veterinarian for your pet. The plan will provide detailed instructions on giving your pet’s day-to-day care. This may include administering oral and injectable medications, if you are comfortable doing so. The doctor will inform you of signs that may indicate that your pet’s disease is progressing. These changes may include the pet’s interest in you and their environment, increased vocalization, pacing or painful gait, amount of food and water consumed and neurological signs. Any time symptoms are changing, contact the doctor to discuss what you have observed.
Providing hospice care to your pet will give you time to come to terms with your pet’s progressive disease and allow you to say good-bye in your own way.
Before it comes to the time when euthanasia is appropriate for your pet, you should discuss the procedure and options with your veterinarian.
Though a sad part of our practice, there comes a time when your pet’s suffering and pain may make their life unbearable. We will be there to help you and your pet through this difficult time.
Along with wellness checks and vaccinations, the staff at Pet Doctors are knowledgeable, experienced and prepared to handle your pet’s medical treatments or emergencies. We also offer options that other veterinary hospitals may not, including:
- Complete nutrition recommendations and our in-house line of foods and supplements.
- Toys, kennel, and pet care supplies with doctor-recommended products.
- Access to alternative treatment such as chiropractic work and cold laser therapy.
Planning a trip to another state or abroad and taking your dog along? Pets are required to have a current rabies vaccination and a Health Certificate stating the pet is free from communicable diseases and is safe to travel. We can provide the physical exam, booster the rabies vaccine if needed, and provide the paperwork you will need for your trip. Give us a call! For more details, see our pages on Traveling with Your Pet under the For Patients section.
Microchipping is fast and easy!
Every pet should have some permanent identification. Any pet can lose their collar, open a gate or even your happy house cat could slip out the door. Protect them! With a simple injection, a microchip can be placed to give your pet a safe, reliable and permanent pet ID. Lost pets with microchips are up to 20 times more likely to return home. Schedule an appointment and give this gift to your pet!