The Annual Appointment
The Annual Appointment is extremely important for maintaining and managing your pet's overall physical and mental well being. Remember, pet's age approximately 7 years for every 1 human year. Many physical changes can occur in those 7 pet years, and we want to track and manage any of these potential changes before they become problems. This can be achieved through regular Wellness Examinations and Wellness Testing. Together, we can maximize your pet's health and improve the quality of his/her life.
What is involved and how do you prepare for the Annual Appointment?
The Physical Examination
The Annual Physical Examination is an important tool in assessing your pet's health. During this appointment, the Doctor performs a full 'head to tail' examination on your pet. The result of this examination gives us a great deal of useful information and gives the Doctor a good idea if any particular findings require further investigation.
The other key component of the Examination is the veterinarian's consultation and discussion with you. During this discussion, routine and non-routine behaviors of your pet are assessed. Along with the physical examination and the details of your pet's lifestyle, your veterinarian can make the best health and home care recommendations for your pet.
To prepare yourself for this aspect of the Appointment, come prepared to ask questions or with the details of any concerns you may have with the physical or mental well being of your pet. Remember, every question is worth asking and any concern is worth mentioning. Even the smallest details can give us useful information.
Wellness Blood Testing
At your pet's Annual Appointment, your veterinarian and veterinary team will recommend wellness blood testing. This test (or series of tests) assesses the status of your pet's internal organs and bodily systems. The wellness blood test is extremely important because it provides information on your pet that we can't see or feel. It can give us information on processes or changes that have begun in the body that have not yet affected your pet physically or behaviorally. Many diseases and illnesses can be prevented or maintained when detected early, before your pet shows physical signs. It is important that we catch these changes early.
The results of the Wellness Blood Test will also provide as a baseline for future reference. Regular wellness blood tests provide us with information on how your pet's bodily systems are changing as they age. And even though results can show to be within normal limits, trends of bodily change can be observed, allowing us to take action in advance.
We recommend having a Wellness Blood Test run for your pet every year.
Another component in your pet's regular Wellness Appointment is the administration of important vaccinations. Vaccines help in preventing common upper-respiratory and gastro-intestintal diseases in cats and dogs. Certain core vaccines are required on a yearly basis, but others, like rabies, are required only once every 3 years. Additional vaccines may be recommended based on your pet's specific lifestyle.
To help assess which vaccines your pet should recieve, the details of your pet's lifestyle and the types of animal interactions they experience will be assessed.
It is not uncommon for pets, whether indoor or outdoor, to test positive for 1 or more intestinal parasites. It is important that we send a small sample of your pet's stool to our laboratory where it can be tested for the presence of intestinal parasites. Even though outdoor pets are at higher risk of infection (they come into contact with other animals and the environment on a regular basis), keep in mind that it is possible for indoor pets to become affected as well. Indoor pets can become infected through contact with mosquitoes and mice, and even you! Believe it or not, you can bring home potential infection on your shoes or clothes if you come into contact with the environment (ex/ walking through grass, children in sandboxes,etc).
Regardless of the source, to ensure your pet remains healthy and to prevent the possibility of infecting you and your family, it is important that we assess whether your pet has intestinal parasites, and if so, treat them as soon as possible.
Remember to bring in a small sample of your pet's stool at their Annual Appointment.
Viral Testing is extremely important for cats, especially those that frequent the outdoors. Feline immunodefiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (FeLV) are common diseases that can be passed from cat to cat through various forms of contact. Both these disease are eventually fatal.
It is strongly recommended that we assess your feline's viral status. We need to determine whether he/she are carriers of either diseases. If tested positive, changes in lifestyle can help facilitate a long and comfortable life. We would also need to ensure that he/she is unable to pass on the diseases to other cats, outdoor or in the home. Getting an initial viral status is the first step.
In general, FIV and FeLV can be contracted through cat bites, grooming, bodily fluids, and from an infected mother cat to her kittens. If your cat frequents the outdoors on a regular basis and/or comes into contact with other cats whose viral status is undetermined, then we recommend regular testing. If your cat is indoors, then it is recommended that we run 1 viral screen to determine his/her current medical state in the case that she/she was exposed to either virus as kittens or prior to adoption.
Proper dental health will help increase the quality and quantity of your pet's life. 80% of dogs and cats over the age of 3 years have some evidence of dental disease. If not prevented or addressed as soon as possible, bacteria living in infected mouths will enter your pet's bloodstream by way of receding gums and negatively affect internal organs such as the heart, kidneys, liver, brain, etc. Poor dental health will directly impact your pet's health.
At your pet's Annual Appointment, the veterinarian will examine and assess the status of your pet's teeth and gums. Based on that analysis, he/she will recommend a dental plan best suited for your pet.
Dental health and care begins at home, but if disease has already begun to take affect, then we can offer you and your pet treatment plans and/or programs that can help achieve and restore optimal oral health.
Proper nutrition for your pet positively affects his/her wellbeing in countless ways. This can be achieved if you feed your pet a diet best suited for his/her unique physical needs. A nutritional consult with your veterinarian will allow you to understand what your pet needs and which diets are recommended to meet and exceed those needs.
Be ware of purchasing lower quality foods. Not all the information is available to you when purchasing grocery/store brand foods. Nutritional labels can be tricky to read and do not give you the full nutritional quality of the food contents. They do not tell you how much of what your pet eats is absorbed by their body. This is why it is extremely important for you to discuss the nutritional needs of your pet with your veterinarian and ensure that your pet receives the proper nutrients, vitamins, ingredients at the right levels to make a difference to their overall health.
Come to your pet's Annual Appointment with information on their current diet. We may be able to make suggestions and direct you to a diet best suited for their specific needs.
Overall, the Annual Appointment serves to provide you with medical information about your pet in order for you to make educated decisions about their health and well being. We are pet advocates. It is our responsibility to discuss and offer you treatment plans aimed to improve your pet's quality and quantity of life. Together, through the combination of Wellness examinations, Wellness testing, proper dental health and nutrition, we can make a difference in the life of your pet!
Your Partners in Pet Health, Richview Animal Hospital.