Our goal is to help your pet live a long happy life through proactive care. Unfortunately, our 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?
Unfortunately, cats are extremely good at hiding when they are sick. Physical exams are important in cats as they can’t tell us when something is wrong. Detecting problems early is important to avoid costly vet bills and keep your pet happy and healthy for as long as possible. We can detect problems through a physical exam that might not be obvious to you at home! 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 pet’s 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 cat 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 cat 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 cats vaccination date and are needing to restart the vaccination process, or you have gotten a new cat that is not a kitten anymore and are needing to start their vaccines for the first time, then the core vaccines for your cat 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. Vaccines protect against feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus, feline panleukopenia virus (FVRCP for short), Rabies virus and Feline Leukemia virus. For our feline friends, we have 2 Rabies vaccines that you can choose from. The first is identical to the rabies that a dog can receive, called the IMRAB Rabies vaccine. This vaccine can be extended for up to 3 years if boosted properly. The second type of rabies is called the Purevax Rabies and needs to be given once every year, but it is safer for cats. Please ask your veterinarian which rabies vaccine would be best suited for your cat’s needs. 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 the age of 16 weeks and lasts for 1 year. A booster then needs to be given one year later to extend the IMRAB brand 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. Purevax Rabies needs to be administered every single year
Checking a fecal sample is important to check your cats for parasites. The purpose of the fecal exam is to look for 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 cat 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!
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.
Feline Leukemia Virus/FIV Testing
Both Feline Leukemia and FIV are illnesses that we can detect in the clinic with a quick and easy blood test. Ask your veterinarian when and how often your cat should be tested depending on their risk factors. We recommend testing all kittens for Feline Leukemia Virus, this is a virus that causes immune suppression and cancer in cats. The infection is contagious through bite wounds and close contact with cats that have the virus. Kittens can become infected from their mothers. This is one of the leading causes of death in cats but is preventable by vaccinating. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a virus that is similar to AIDS in people. The infection disrupts their immune system and these cats are often not able to fight off simple infections. This virus is also spread via bite wounds.
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!