Our goal is to help your pet live a long happy life through proactive care. Unfortunately, our dogs and cats have shorter lives than we do. Since pets age quickly their medical needs also change quickly as well. For this reason, it is very important for pets to get a yearly wellness exam. Identifying problems early is key to successful treatment and may save costly vet bills. The staff at the Mildmay Veterinary Clinic want to make sure you leave here with your questions answered and your head filled with knowledge on what is best for your furry family member.
What is a Wellness Exam and why is it important?
We will do a thorough nose to tail exam at every vaccine visit! This is also a good time to address any concerns that you might have. We will discuss nutrition, behaviour changes and what to expect from your pet.
• Ears: Identify signs of infection, polyps or parasites.
• Eyes: We look for ocular disease, cataracts, conjunctival disease, and ulcers. We may recommend testing ocular pressures, tear production or stain the eye to look for ulcers.
• Mouth: We will check for an overbite or under bite, make sure all of your pets’ teeth are coming in as they should, and ensure there are no dental abnormalities. We will also check for a cleft palate.
• Skin/Coat: Identifying parasites, infections, yeast, allergies, dry or greasy skin. We may also find lumps or bumps that go unidentified under the coats of many of our pets. We will also feel your pet’s lymph nodes and ensure they are normal size.
• Body condition: We will give your pet a body condition score and help you ensure your pet maintains an ideal body weight.
• Heart/Lungs: This is important to ensure your pet has a normal heart rate and rhythm. Heart murmurs and arrhythmias can be identified.
- Abdominal palpation: We are able to palpate your pet’s abdomen to identify possible areas of concern such as enlarged organs or internal masses and we will also assess for any pain. We will ensure that your pet does not have a hernia.
• Temperature: We will take your pet’s temperature.
• Weight: We keep track of your pet’s weight at every visit. A change in weight can indicate underlying disease in your pet.
Your dog will get a thorough health examination at every vaccination visit. It is important to make sure your dog is nice and healthy prior to vaccination.
Your dog should have been vaccinated with a series of vaccines at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age, then annually from there on. If for some reason you missed yours dogs vaccination date and are needing to restart the vaccination process, or you have gotten a new dog that is not a puppy and needing to start their vaccines for the first time, then the core vaccines for your dog will need to be given twice to ensure proper immune response. Non-core vaccine administration will be based on risk of exposure and your veterinarian will help you decide how frequently these vaccines should be given to your pet. Some non-core vaccines also need to be boosted twice initially. Core vaccines include canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus and canine parvovirus (in the clinic we call this combination Distemper for ease of use) as well as rabies virus. Non-core vaccination includes Bordetella (kennel cough) and Lyme. Due to the increased prevalence of leptospirosis in the area, we vaccinate dogs with a Distemper/Leptospirosis combination vaccine annually. Below is a chart to help simplify what vaccines you need to give annually as well as the initial series if you’re starting over:
***Note: Rabies can be 1st given at any time over the age of 16 weeks and lasts for 1 year. A booster then needs to be given one year later to extend the rabies vaccine to have on a 3-year rotation protocol. This protocol can only be achieved if the rabies booster is given within 365 days of the 1st. If on the 3rd year of your rotation the rabies is missed by even one day, it will only be valid for 1 year until boosted properly again.
Checking a fecal sample is important to check your dog for parasites. The purpose of the fecal exam is to look for other parasites that might require special deworming. Parasites are often not visible to the naked eye and checking for eggs under the microscope is very important. Parasites may cause diarrhea, unthriftiness, a potbellied appearance, anemia and some parasites are zoonotic which means they are transmissible to humans! Routine deworming and fecal examinations are recommended for all pets.
Your pets can be the host to many internal and external parasites without you even knowing. Some of these parasites include fleas, ticks, and heartworms. Fleas do not carry any diseases but having an infestation in your home is tedious to try to eliminate. Fleas can potentially be fatal if your dog is small and the infestation is large enough to cause them to become anemic, as fleas feast on the blood of their host. Fleas, if ingested by your pet can lead to tapeworms as well which live in your pets’ intestines and are often seen as white segments of rice on your pets’ bottom and even bedding.
Ticks are becoming more prevalent in our area. Prevention will help reduce the risk of the transmitting of tick borne diseases to your pet. Some of the MANY diseases that ticks can transmit are Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Anaplasmosis.
Heartworm is a serious condition caused by parasitic worms that live in the heart and blood vessels. Pets can get heartworm disease from mosquitoes that are infected with heartworm parasites. An infected mosquito may bite your dog and inject immature worms into your dog through its saliva. The immature worms migrate to the lungs and heart where they cause significant damage and mature into adults that can be up to 30 cm long! Unfortunately, this condition can be fatal. The good news is that it can easily be prevented through regular testing and preventive medication. Treatment for heartworm disease is expensive and challenging – therefore prevention is key!
- What is a 4DX Snap Test? – This test requires us to collect a few drops of your pet’s blood. It tests for Heartworm disease and exposure to Lyme disease, Anaplasma, and Erlichia canis. We recommend running this test once every other year at your wellness visit or once every year if your dog goes to more high risk locations.
Prevention for these parasites includes a pill, a topical medication that gets absorbed into the skin, or a combination of the two, once monthly between May to November (depending on the weather). Your veterinarian will help you decide what your dog is at risk of and customize a parasite prevention program to their needs.
When we examine your pet we take a good look at your pet’s eye. Just like in people another important aspect of the eye exam is measuring eye pressures. You might remember them measuring your eye pressures at your own eye exam! This is an easy pain-free test that allows us to detect changes in pressure that can help identify diseases such as glaucoma and uveitis.
Why do we recommend yearly blood work?
Although a physical examination identifies many issues, blood work allows us to monitor organ function and pick up early changes. If we can identify some of these changes before obvious clinical signs are noted we can potentially start treatment and prolong your pet’s life substantially. For example, kidney disease is a common problem in our companion animals. By the time your pet starts to show signs of kidney disease, the disease process is usually advanced. If we can identify these pets early- before they start to show clinical signs, we are often able to slow the kidney disease down; sometimes a simple diet change will help! Having regular blood work allows us to trend each individual pet’s organ function over time.
Checking your pet’s urine is very important. We screen the urine for infection, for evidence of stones, crystals or cancer cells. We monitor the urine pH, we check the urine for protein and measure how concentrated the urine is. This is important as it gives us an idea how the kidneys are functioning. Screening urine will allow us not only to monitor bladder health but also to monitor kidney health and may also indicate underlying endocrine disease.
As humans, we brush our teeth twice daily and floss for our entire lives – we go for regular check-ups and dental cleanings, sometimes requiring cavity fillings or extractions. Our pets do not brush their teeth and it is therefore not surprising that our pets suffer from dental disease. Unfortunately, most dental disease goes unrecognized as most pets do not complain about a sore tooth or accumulation of tartar. Oral health is however very important. Under all that tartar we often find pus and infection. Your pet is swallowing all of this on a daily basis and this can cause some major health concerns.
A dental prophylaxis is equivalent to our “dental cleanings” the only difference is our pets are anesthetized for the procedure to allow us to get to the back of the mouth safely. We have advanced equipment to allow us to remove tartar that has built up, check for any “pockets”, assess the gums, take x-rays of tooth roots to check for disease below the gum line, and finally polish the teeth. Unfortunately, as the dental disease becomes advanced infection travels down the roots of the teeth and can cause dental abscesses and painful teeth requiring extraction of the affected tooth. The goal of routine dental cleanings is to help prevent these infections and avoid costly extractions. We will discuss home care and diet with you to help you keep your pet’s teeth as healthy as possible between dental cleanings! Your pet will go home the same day as the procedure with whiter, cleaner teeth!
We are excited to be able to provide your loved animals the best medical care that they deserve! We can’t wait to watch them grow with your family and look forward to seeing them at their wellness visits every year! Thank you for making the Mildmay Veterinary Clinic your pets’ wellness experts!