Wellness care may be defined as routine exams, diagnostics, and preventatives that a pet receives to maintain health or prevent illness. This may include physical exams, routine vaccines, blood work, radiographs, EKG, heartworm and intestinal parasite checks. Also flea and tick prevention, heartworm prevention, intestinal parasite prevention as well as various other procedures may be necessary to maintain health or prevent illness.
The most important part of any wellness visit to any veterinarian is the data collected from clients about their beloved pet’s medical, behavioral, and environmental history along with a thorough physical exam. At Kind Animal Hospital Our wellness visits are usually 20-30 minutes long and cover a very wide range of issues and concerns. Our staff and veterinarians ask and document several questions and answers as to provide a concise picture your pet’s overall state of being in the past as well as present. The veterinarian will then conduct a complete physical exam and document normal and abnormal findings.
Once the exam is satisfied, the results and history are reviewed and a wellness plan is created to maintain or correct certain issues. Throughout the process our clients are educated and made aware of the recommendations and reasoning. Our goal is to work as a team to extend many quality years to our patients.
A physical exam includes but is not limited to the following:
Attitude: Determining over all demeanor of the patient. The patient’s alertness, reactivity to stimuli, responsiveness, state of being
Diet: Is the patient able to eat and drink well? Are there problems chewing or
swallowing? Is the food adequate for the breed and species?
Eyes: Assessing vision quality and structural changes within the eye as well as
Ears: The pinna, external ear canals, tympanic membranes, and sometimes middle
ears are evaluated.
Oral Cavity: This exam can sometimes be difficult to perform, however
it qualifies dental health, gums, structural abnormalities, and abnormal
growths or formations.
Nose/Throat: This exam tries to assess the upper airways and structures.
Cardio Vascular: Evaluating cardiac sounds (murmurs, arrhythmias), pulse quality and
Lungs: Qualifying lung sounds, and establishing respiratory rates.
Integument: Evaluating normal and abnormal appearance of the skin grossly
with respect to breed and species variance. Also external parasites
such as fleas, ticks, lice, mange, and others are assessed.
Musculo-Skeletal: Quantifying the patient’s body condition score (BCS 1-9). Assessing
orthopedic and soft tissue structures along with muscle tone and
range of motion.
Neurological/Behavior: Observing changes in neurological activity or behavior
(anxiousness, aggression, passiveness, tremors, twitching,
balance, gland secretions, symmetry and tone of muscles,
and other more subtle signs).
Gastrointestinal: Noting any changes in normal GI function (diarrhea, regurgitation,
Vomiting, anorexia, weight loss, among other signs).
Genito-Urinary: Evaluating normal reproductive anatomy and function as it appears
on a gross level. Also assessing urine quality and patterns.
Lymphatics/Abdominal organs: Determining adequate size and appearance of superficial
and palpable lymph nodes. Assessing palpable
abdominal organs and structures.
By conducting a systematic physical exam similar to the checklist above, the veterinarian is able to make suggestions that can improve and maintain overall health for the patient. These recommendations may range from dietary concerns to performing diagnostics, such as blood work, radiographs, or ultrasound. Physical exams are recommended every six months for dogs, cats and exotics. Animals age much faster than people. On average for every human year a dog or cat ages 5-7 years for and much more for exotics. Therefore, for every 2 months an animal lives it is equivalent on average to 1-2 human years depending on species and breed. Blood work is recommended every year. X-rays and EKGs are recommended for our senior pets generally 7 years or older on an annual basis. These routine visits with complete exams and recommended diagnostics help extend quality years and quality of life for pets.
Wellness Blood Work, Fecal Checks And Diagnostics:
Just like people, animals get their blood work done every year. One of the most important things a pet owner can do is to have annual/semiannual wellness blood work acquired on their pets. Wellness blood work is defined simply as blood parameters taken on a healthy patient. This is paramount for establishing normal levels within a pet’s blood.
Since pets do not tell us how they are feeling or if they are sick, it becomes very imperative to have blood work done. If this is done consistently, the veterinarian can follow trends and identify problems early based on reliable information and make better recommendations for the best treatment and care possible. When pets are exhibiting clinical signs “symptoms” of illness it is often something that a blood test may have determined earlier and possibly may have prevented the progression of the illness. As a pre-anesthetic tool, blood work is vital in assessing anesthesia protocols and making changes if necessary. ROUTINE BLOOD WORK IS VERY IMPORTANT!!!!
All laboratory tests are a “snapshot” of the patient at the time the samples are taken. There may be variations in readings from test to test and the veterinarian will take this into consideration when interpreting lab results.
There are four basic laboratory tests that the veterinarian uses to assess the general health of your pet. They are as follows:
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
• Deals with the cell portion of blood
• This test measures the number, type, and health of blood cells circulating in the blood stream. This includes hemoglobin and red blood cells (RBC) that carry oxygen throughout the body. Also white blood cells (WBC) are measured which help fight infections and may indicate inflammation. Platelets are also measured and they aid in the blood clotting process.
• Useful in detecting anemia, infection, inflammation, leukemia and dehydration among other conditions.
Chemistry and Electrolyte Panel
• This test deals with the fluid portion of the blood (serum)
• It measures various compounds, chemicals, and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous)
• Provides the veterinarian with information to aide in evaluating the health of the liver, kidneys, pancreas, adrenal glands, immune system, muscle and bone along with information about hydration and electrolyte status.
• Many diseases or conditions are diagnosed and inferences are made based on this panel.
• Helps determine thyroid gland function and measures thyroid hormone levels in the blood.
• Tests for hypothyroidism (common in dogs) and hyperthyroidism (common in cats).
• Helps evaluate the function and health of the urinary system and kidneys
• Measures clarity, color, and concentration of urine along with detecting glucose, protein, blood, blood cells, bacteria, and many other substances.
• Useful to detect urinary tract infections, kidney disease, diabetes, dehydration, liver disease and many other conditions.
FECAL AND WELLNESS DIAGNOSTICS
Fecal checks are vital to overall pet health. Many parasites including worms and other organisms can be identified and treated. Many parasites are zoonotic ( transmissible to people and children) and can be life threatening to humans and pets. Even if a pet is on some kind of monthly preventative such as heart worm pills or “over the counter dewormers”, they still can test positive for worms and other parasites. Have your pets checked for intestinal parasites routinely every six months.
Wellness diagnostics are those diagnostics done on healthy animals to establish base lines for a pet. These diagnostics are probably more important in adult and senior patients but can be just as important in younger patients of certain breeds. Some examples of wellness diagnostics are X-Rays, ultrasounds, echocardiograms, and EKGs.
The goal of wellness care and diagnostics is to maintain health and treat illness early. Wellness care is vital for good pet health and will extend quality years to our beloved friends.
Vaccines: Are They Necessary? What Is Given and When Are They Administered?
This topic of discussion is much debated in the veterinary community. At Kind Animal Hospital a practical approach is taken when instituting vaccine protocols for our patients. Our doctors evaluate the patient based on age, species, and likely exposure to potentially harmful or fatal viruses, bacteria or pathogens. Patients are put into three categories: 1- puppy/kitten (under a year old), 2- adults (1-7 years old), 3- seniors (greater than 7 years old).
Kind Animal Hospital has core and non-core vaccine protocols. Core vaccines are defined as those vaccines that protect against pathogens that are prevalent in the area where the pet resides and other locations that the pet may visit frequently or are highly contagious and exposure is likely.
Core canine vaccines administered at Kind Animal Hospital are as follows:
6 weeks old DHP, Deworming (against roundworms and hookworms), Fecal Parasite check.
9 weeks old DHP, Bordatella (Infectious Tracheobronchitis “kennel caugh”), Deworming.
12 weeks old DHP, Deworming
16 weeks old DHP, 1 Year Rabies Vaccine, Deworming.
1-7 years old DHP, Bordatella, Rabies Vaccine, Heartworm Test, Fecal Parasite Check, Deworming.
Older than seven years old may receive the same as adult dogs, however for certain vaccines and protocols there may be more variation and at the discretion of the veterinarian and client.
The above is a guideline and may be altered by the veterinarian depending on individual patient circumstances. The core vaccines for patients that have previously been vaccinated may be on an annual schedule, 3 year schedule, or not given at all in special cases at the discretion of the veterinarian. The bordatella vaccine is given every 6 month to a year depending on exposure. The fecal parasite check is done every six months along with physical exams. The heartworm test is done at least once a year.
Non-core vaccines are defined as those vaccines that protect against viruses, bacteria or pathogens that, although prevalent in the area where a pet resides or visits frequently, is not likely to be exposed to or contract the virus, bacteria, or pathogen. Basically, a Maltese that lives on the 30th floor of a building in the city and does not leave the area is going to have different vaccine requirements than a Beagle that is used for hunting in the Mid-West. Vaccine protocols are customized and specific to individual pets and their life style. When it comes to vaccines there is no “one size fits all”.
Non-core canine vaccines available at Kind Animal Hospital:
Lyme Vaccine, Corona Vaccine, Leptospirosis Vaccine, Canine Influenza Vaccine (H3N8).
Feline vaccines administered at Kind Animal Hospital are as follows:
At Kind Animal Hospital We Use only the Most Advanced Feline Vaccine Available
8-9 weeks old FVRCP, FeLV/FIV blood test (tests for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus “Feline AIDS Virus”) Fecal.
11-12weeks old FVRCP, Leukemia Virus.
15-16 weeks old FVRCP, Leukemia, 1 year Rabies vaccine is administered and done annually thereafter.