Providing appropriate preventive care can protect your pet from serious health complications and prevent you from having to pay for expensive treatments. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Nasa team wants to improve and prolong your pet’s life, and we explain why preventive care is so important for your four-legged friend.
Why are wellness visits important for my pet?
Your pet is hard-wired to hide vulnerabilities, which is an instinct they inherited from their ancestors who faced targeting by predators if they exhibited weakness. This means that your pet may not display illness or pain signs until their condition is severe. Most health issues have a better prognosis if detected early, but regular wellness visits can help ensure your pet doesn’t have any underlying health problems. These visits involve:
- History — Our veterinary team takes a detailed history about your pet’s actions and behavior. You know your pet better than anyone, and we greatly value your input and concerns.
- Physical examination — We perform a thorough physical examination to detect any abnormal conditions, such as cataracts, swollen lymph nodes, heart murmurs and arrhythmias, and abnormally sized abdominal organs.
- Blood work — Some conditions can’t be detected on physical examination, and our team runs screening blood work (i.e., complete blood count [CBC], biochemistry profile) to detect health issues such as anemia, infection, clotting abnormalities, electrolyte imbalances, diabetes, kidney disease, and liver dysfunction.
- Urinalysis — Your pet’s urine can provide valuable information about their overall health, so we perform a urinalysis to detect issues such as urinary stones, urinary tract infections, diabetes, and kidney disease.
- Fecal screening— Intestinal parasites are common in pets, and we perform a fecal check to determine if your pet is affected.
Why are vaccinations important for my pet?
Vaccines stimulate your pet’s immune system to protect them against various diseases. Kittens and puppies should receive their first vaccines at 6 to 8 weeks of age, and be boosted every three to four weeks, until 16 weeks of age. Adult pets typically need boosters every one to three years depending on the vaccine and the pet’s lifestyle. Pet vaccines include:
- Core vaccines for dogs — Core vaccines are those that every dog should receive, and they include rabies, canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus, and canine adenovirus-type 2.
- Non-core vaccines for dogs — Non-core vaccines are those that are recommended based on your dog’s lifestyle and risk for certain diseases, and include leptospirosis, Lyme disease, canine parainfluenza virus, canine influenza, and Bordetella bronchiseptica.
- Core vaccines for cats — Core vaccines for cats include rabies, feline rhinotracheitis virus, feline calicivirus, and feline panleukopenia. Feline leukemia virus is also considered a core vaccine for kittens.
- Non core vaccines for cats — Non core vaccines for cats include chlamydiosis and B. bronchiseptica.
Why is parasite prevention important for my pet?
Parasites can cause several health complications and all pets, including indoor pets, should receive year-round, life-long parasite protection. These products are important to protect your pet from conditions such as:
- Anemia — Fleas can ingest as much as 15 times their body weight in blood, which can lead to anemia, especially in puppies, kittens, and small pets.
- Flea bite dermatitis — Many pets are allergic to flea saliva and suffer significant skin disease. The condition can only be resolved by removing all fleas from your pet’s skin, coat, and environment.
- Tick-borne diseases — Tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis, can cause debilitating illness in pets and may be resolved only with extended treatment.
- Heartworm disease — Transmitted by mosquitoes, heartworms are dangerous parasites that can cause severe damage to your pet’s heart and lungs.
Why is dental care important for my pet?
Food particles get trapped between your pet’s teeth, attracting bacteria that form plaques that harden to tartar, a gritty substance that negatively impacts your pet’s oral health, if not removed. Problems include halitosis, swollen and bleeding gums, loose or missing teeth, and tooth root infections. In addition, the bacteria can damage organs throughout your pet’s body if the infection enters their bloodstream. Steps to keep your pet’s mouth healthy include:
- Professional veterinary dental cleanings — Your pet needs regular professional veterinary dental cleanings to effectively and safely remove the bacterial deposits from their teeth and from under their gum line. These procedures require that your pet be anesthetized to prevent potential discomfort and stress. In addition, your pet will need comprehensive dental X-rays to fully evaluate their dental health.
- Daily brushing — Between professional veterinary dental cleanings, you should brush your pet’s teeth each day at home to remove plaque and keep their mouth healthy. Use only pet-specific products to brush your pet’s teeth, because human dental products can be toxic to pets.
Why is keeping my pet at a healthy weight important?
More than half of U.S. pets are overweight, and the added weight can lead to significant health complications such as cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and arthritis. Steps to keep your pet at a healthy weight include:
- Calculate your pet’s energy requirements — Consider your pet’s weight, age, spay or neuter status, and activity level, and calculate their daily energy requirements.
- Read the label — Check your pet’s food label to determine how much food they need once you know their daily energy requirements.
- Measure your pet’s food — Use a measuring cup or kitchen scale to accurately measure your pet’s food portion and ensure they are fed the correct amount.
- Limit treats — Give treats sparingly, and ensure these calories are included in their overall daily energy requirements.
- Monitor your pet’s weight — Weigh your pet and assess their body condition score (BCS) regularly to ensure they aren’t unexpectedly gaining or losing weight.
Preventive care is the best way to keep your pet healthy and happy. If you would like to schedule a wellness examination or other preventive care for your pet, contact our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Nasa team, so we can contribute to their wellbeing and longevity.