PREVENTATIVE CARE EXAMS AND HEALTH COUNCELLING
Because animals age faster than humans, significant changes in their health can happen over a shorter period of time. Yearly physical examinations for pets under the age of 7, and twice yearly physical examinations for pets older than 7 can lead to ealier detection of preventable disease and illness, and therefore more successful outcome of therapies and treatments that are initiated.
Regular visits to a veterinarian also allows pet owners the opportunity to ask questions regarding the health of their pets, and receive councelling for various important topics including diet and nutrition, weight, exercise, behavior, oral health, vaccinations and parasite prevention,
Throughout history vaccines have played a major role for both humans and animals in the control, prevention and even eradication of some diseases. Appropriate vaccination of pets not only helps to protect them against transmittable diseases that are potentially fatal, but also ensures the safety of their human companions when considering certain zoonotic diseases, which can been transmitted to humans, such as Rabies, Leptospirosis and Bordetella.
At Chester Basin Animal Hospital, vaccination protocols are tailored to each pet based on their individual lifestyle and risk of exposure.
To obtain more information on what vaccines may be appropriate for your pet, please schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians.
Companion animals are sucespitble to a variety of parasitic infections, a few of which are zoonotic, meaning they can infect humans as well. Therefore, parasite prevention is not only important for the health of pets, but also for the health of their human families.
Fleas and ticks are of particular concern because they not only cause disease such as skin irritation and severe allergic reactions, but they can also transmit disease. Fleas can transmit a disease called Bartonella henselae which can lead to a number of debilitating symptoms in cats and dogs, and is responsible for the infamous "Cat Scratch Fever" in humans. Ticks are most commonly known for their ability to transmit Lyme disease, but they can also transmit Anaplasmosis and Erlichiosis, all of which can lead to chronic, painful conditions if left untreated. There are a number of products available that are highly effective at treating and preventing flea and tick on pets. Consultation with with a veterinarian can help determine which product is best for an individual pet.
Internal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms have the abilitiy to cause serious illness in pets as well. Symptoms often include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, unhealthy hair coat and poor overall condition. Roundworms, hookworms and some types of tapeworms can also infect humans. Animals can contract internal parasites from hunting or eating contaminated soil, grass or feces. Tapeworms can also be transmitted by ingestion of fleas that are carrying tapeworm eggs. Internal parasites can affect a pets health long before symptoms are noticed, and despite popular belief, worms are not easily seen in feces. Therefore, regular parasite screening and/or treatment with anti-parasitic medications is absolutely necessary for animals at risk.
Heartworm is a worm that resides in the heart and lungs of infected cats and dogs. The larval stage of the worm is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. These larvae migrate to the heart and lungs where they develop into adult worms and cause respiratory disease, heart failure and even death. Fortunately, Heartworm is preventable and there are a number of very effective products available for use on a monthly basis. Although Heartworm is not prevalent in Nova Scotia, any animal travelling or moving to an endemic area outside of the province should be placed on a Heartworm preventative medication.
A discussion regarding risk of parasitic infection and selection of appopriate preventative products should be carried out during a regularly scheduled preventative care exam. There are a number of safe, highly effective products available though veterinarians that can help keep pets and their human families safe from parasitic infection. Although it may be tempting to purchase over the counter products for parasite treatment and prevention, many of these products have limited effectiveness, or could produce serious side effects if not used properly.
Oral health plays a very important role in a pets general, overall health. Not only can disease of the oral cavity cause problems in other parts of the body such as the heart, lungs, kidneys and liver, but it can also be caused by a number of systemic illnesses such as kidney disease, diabetes, viral infections and malnutrition. It is important for pets to have a thorough oral exam at least once per year during a routine preventative care exam, or anytime a problem is noticed at home. Pet owners can help prevent oral disease in their pets by taking preventative measures at home. Daily, or in the very least every other day brushing is perhaps the most effective method of preventing oral disase. If brusing is not an option, there are a number of veterinary approved products such as dental treats and diets that can be helpful. We carry a number of dental products at Chester Basin Animal Hospital. A list of approved products can also be found on the Veterinary Oral Health Council website at vohc.org.
Although annual or semi-annual preventative care exams are very important for pets, there are many conditions that cannot be detected through history or physical examination. Wellness testing involves blood testing to screen for underlying disease.
At Chester Basin Animal Hospital, we recommend wellness testing for pets starting at the age of 2 years. This testing generally includes chemistry and hematology which helps screen for diseases of the kidneys, liver and endocrine system, as well as auto-immune diseases, blood disorders and cancer. We also recommend annual screening for mosquito and tick borne diseases in dogs such as Heartworm, Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis, and viral diseases in outdoor cats such as Feline Leukemia (FELV) and Feline Immunodefficiency Virus (FIV).
With regular wellness testing, we can diagnose and treat disease and chronic conditions more quickly, and therefore have more favorable outcomes and longer life expectancy for pets. When screening tests are normal, pet owners have the peace of mind in knowning their family member is healthy, and it also provides us with baseline values that can be used to compare to in the future should a pet become ill.