We all want the best for our pets and we want them to be with us forever. Preventative medical care is a large part of helping this happen. As the age old adage says, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Never has this been more true than today. Most veterinarians agree it is much easier to help pets (and people) stay healthy than it is to treat and manage chronic disease and it tends to be less expensive as well.
So, we know that preventative medicine is good for our pets, but what exactly is preventative medical care? At Clear Creek Animal Hospital, we feel the following items constitute a good preventative care plan:
Examinations — Twice a year examinations for each pet help ensure that we are staying abreast of any changes in your pet’s health. Exams allow us to monitor ongoing conditions and address any seasonal issues. They also give you a chance to discuss any concerns you have for your pet. Remember, pets age much faster than we do, so their health status can change much more quickly as well.
Vaccinations — For a long time now, vaccinations have been the cornerstone of preventative care. Vaccines help a pet’s immune system develop antibodies against the diseases we vaccinate against. We now divide these vaccines into core and non-core vaccines. We will discuss these vaccines in another post, but core vaccines are considered essential vaccines while non-core vaccines are recommended based on a pet’s lifestyle and risk of exposure to those diseases.
Intestine Parasite Screening (fecal test) — Hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, giardia, and coccidia are just a few of the parasites we are looking for. Testing for these parasites should be performed twice a year, even if your pet stays primarily inside. Additionally, we follow the recommendation of the CDC by deworming all pets twice a year, even when we see no parasite eggs on the screening test, to be certain that they are not harboring juvenile worms. This serves to protect not only the pet, but the people in the home too as many of these parasites are transmissible to humans.
Heartworm Test and prevention — For dogs, the American Heartworm Society recommends annual testing as well as year-round prevention. Missing or being late with even a single dose may put your pet at risk of developing heartworm disease. Heartworm testing helps us know that your pet has been protected and in the case of a positive result, allows us to begin treatment as soon as possible. Cats also can be affected by heartworms and should receive monthly heartworm prevention. Testing for this in cats is a little more difficult, sometimes requiring multiple tests, so we will generally recommend testing only if your cat has clinical signs consistent with heartworm disease.
Annual Bloodwork — Like examinations that give us information about your pet’s physical condition, lab tests such as a complete blood count, serum chemistry, and urinalysis give us information about your pet’s liver, kidneys, thyroid, bladder, and more. These tests can identify problems long before symptoms are physically evident. Early detection leads to early intervention which leads to longer, happier lives.