Regular examinations are the foundation for maintaining you pet’s health. Even we as humans are supposed to have a yearly check-up, and a year is a lot more out of a pet’s life than it is out of ours! Plus, as humans, we are able to communicate if something about ourselves feels “off” – we can decide to go and see the doctor to address a problem, hopefully at the earliest and most treatable stages. Our pets rely on us, their people, to be their health advocates.
A good head-to-toe exam is a way to identify problems at their earliest stages, as well as to establish a base-line to which to compare later changes. A good base-line includes bloodwork and a urine test – these are often the earliest indications of degenerating organ function, which can be managed to minimize signs of illness, and sometimes even halt or reverse the degeneration.
At a well-pet visit, I will be able to go over preventive care with you. You, as the Pet Parent, have the ability to take charge of your pet’s health!
- I will go over how to do tooth-brushing, for example – really, it is not as hard as you think! It may take some time and patience to train your pet to accept such an odd proposition, but it can be done and it is worthwhile!
- I can teach you how to properly do a deep cleaning of the ear canal – in pets prone to ear infections, a timely ear cleaning may nip a developing infection in the bud. Don’t let the ears progress to the stage of needing ear medication again!
- One of the most valuable services for keeping you pet healthy is nutritional counselling. You come to see your vet maybe a coupe of times a year, but you feed your pet every day of its life! The most common nutritional issue is extra weight – over 40% of domestic pets are classed as overweight or obese. Managing overweight pets (especially cats, who don’t get taken out for walks) can be a challenge, but there are more options available than you may have realized. It is not just about yet another weight loss diet!
Vaccination protocols in my practice are tailored to the lifestyle needs of each pet. I will discuss with you which vaccinations are appropriate for your pet, in your circumstances. My vaccination fee is for the Annual Wellness Exam, and all necessary vaccines; there are no separate charges for adding on required additional vaccinations to the core vaccines.
Rabies is a core vaccine – every pet should be protected! It is a “reportable disease”, ie one in which the Department of Public Health gets involved, because is can be passed to people. And exposure only takes ONE bite – any pet has the opportunity somewhere in their lifetime to have a misadventure that results in a bite. I use a 3-year rabies vaccine – that means, after the puppy/kitten rabies vaccine and the one-year-later (16 month) one, rabies vaccination is every 3rd year.
The core vaccination protocol in dogs is for DA2P: that’s Distemper, Adenovirus 2, and Parvovirus. Distemper virus had an outbreak in Toronto as recently as 2010. Parvovirus mutates its form periodically (like our flu virues do) and so vaccines need a periodic update. I generally recommend an every 2-3 year protocol, rather than every year.
The core vaccination protocol for cats is FRCP: Feline Rhinovirus, Calici virus, and Panleukopenia. These viruses are all hardy, and persist in the environment. This means even indoor cats can be exposed to viruses their humans track in on hands or clothing, or to viruses that aerosolize in through windows from cats visiting the yard. As with dogs, I generally recommend an every 2-3 year protocol, rather than every year.
One of the main Lifestyle vaccinations for dog is Leptospirosis. We do live in an area of Leptospirosis prevalence in Southern Ontario. A dog is exposed to Lepto simply by drinking from a puddle contaminated by the urine of an infected animal, such as a raccoon.
Kennel Cough for dogs (Bordetella) is not a deadly disease like the others that we vaccinate for, but it is persistent, and a real pain to get rid of. Like its bacterial cousin that causes Whooping Cough in children, it can take months to clear up. Dogs can be exposed to it anywhere that they come in contact with other dogs – even sniffing noses on a walk. There is a new Kennel Cough vaccine available – instead of being squirted up the nose, it just has to be deposited into the cheek pouch. Much less annoying to the dog!
For cats, the main Lifestyle vaccine is FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus). While Feline Leukemia is a nasty disease, it is a wimpy virus – it does not survive long off the host. This means that to be exposed, your cat must come in direct contact with an infected cat, or with very fresh body fluids from an infected cat. This vaccination is important for cats that spend time outside.
Some Pet Parents elect not to vaccinate at all. While I do recommend this preventive health measure, I will respect your informed decision if that is what you choose. I will still offer you the best preventive health care advice, as well as deal thoroughly and inclusively with any health issues your pet may have!