Preventative Care for Dogs and Cats
Regular exams, heartworm, flea, and tick prevention will help keep your pet as healthy as possible.
Mixed Pet Veterinary Hospital’s primary mission is to keep your pet as healthy as possible. One of the simplest ways to achieve this is with preventative care. Many people are used to visiting their own doctor for yearly examinations; however, we have the advantage of being able to speak when something is bothering us so we might have to go in to see the doctor more frequently when issues arise. Pets of course cannot be as direct as humans so they rely on their owner to pick up on clues if they are not feeling well. This may be as obvious as when you are awakened in the middle of the night to the sounds of vomiting or discovering a bout of diarrhea that happened on your best rug. Conversely, other signs may not be apparent or showing at all and our veterinarians will discover them during your pet’s wellness exam. Pets do age faster than humans, so going a full year between veterinary wellness visits is typically too long. At Mixed Pet, we like to see patients every 6 months since so much can change over an entire year.
Many diseases, when detected early, can either be resolved completely or treatment can be started – which can provide a better long-term prognosis, keep the pet comfortable and reduce your overall medical expenses. It’s a win, win, win for you and your pet!
During biannual wellness visits, each pet receives an exam starting from the nose and working back towards the tail. At Mixed Pet, we look into the eyes (we can see indications of cataracts which can result from various diseases and even signs of hypertension), ear exam (many pets have subclinical ear infections where they don’t give you any signs and you cannot see into the ear canal at home, we even see ticks down in the canals!), oral examination for periodontal disease, assessment of lymph nodes in various locations (can be consistent with infection, sometimes cancer), we listen to heart and lungs (we can pick up on murmurs), abdominal palpation, assess skin and coat to include the paws, and look at the nails. If your pet is an intact female giving a thorough breast exam of the mammary tissue is warranted as they have a higher chance of breast cancer, an intact male warrants a rectal exam to check the prostate (higher risk of prostate cancer) and in both males/females, rectal exam can pick up on early forms of cancer that occur in the anal glands. We also look at body condition as many pets continue to gain weight, which can complicate issues of arthritis and/or other orthopedic concerns. Whew – when was the last time you had all that looked over at just one doctor’s visit?
Yearly Fecal Exam
The fecal examinations are designed to pick up on intestinal parasites that can cause a multitude of unpleasant symptoms:
- Hookworm infestations can lead to anemia, weight loss, and poor skin and coat. Hookworm is what we call a zoonotic disease. Zoonotic disease is a disease and/or parasite that can be passed from animal to human. For the majority of healthy people, the likelihood of this occurring is low but by keeping our companion pets healthy, we are also protecting ourselves.
- Roundworms are another zoonotic disease and common intestinal parasite of dogs and cats. These parasites are common in young puppies but easily treated and prevented. Common signs of infestation are diarrhea, vomiting, failure to thrive, weight loss, poor hair coat, and a pot-bellied appearance.
- Whipworms are a small parasite that lives in the large intestine of dogs. Dogs can become infected to whipworms by being exposed to other contaminated fecal material. Pets infected with whipworm can have diarrhea, lethargy, and anorexia among other signs.
Diagnosis for all these intestinal parasites is made by microscopic examination of the stool. All of these intestinal parasites can be prevented easily by using heartworm prevention along with yearly deworming.
It is recommended that all dogs and cats be on heartworm prevention year round as well as receive yearly heartworm tests. We recommend testing yearly even when consistently on heartworm prevention to ensure product efficacy when administered as directed. We have several options (oral, topical and injectable) when it comes to heartworm prevention. The newest option is an injection for heartworm prevention, administered every 6 months (during your biannual wellness exam) by our Mixed Pet vets. This product is highly effective at preventing heartworm infestation in dogs and is enormously convenient for you. Our clients love this option!
Cats are susceptible to heartworm too. Even cats that stay indoors are susceptible, as mosquitoes transmit heartworms. Although we can treat heartworm disease in dogs, there is no approved treatment for cats. In this case, prevention really is the best tool. We have multiple options for feline heartworm prevention, yet the injectable is not available at this time.
Flea and Tick Prevention
Both fleas and ticks act as a nuisance to our pets (not to mention to our families and everything in our homes) as well the biggest issue of transmitting disease. Keeping our pets on year round prevention for fleas and ticks can prevent skin infections, itchiness, tapeworms, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever among other diseases. We have multiple options for both dogs and cats. If you are not sure what the right option is, just stop by and talk with us. We’ll be happy to help choose the best option! And if you didn’t already know, Mixed Pet matches 1-800-PetMeds for our flea, tick and heartworm medications, and we have exclusive rebates on top of those great prices. Another way we save you moola!
Our pets age differently (obviously faster) than us. A calendar year for us can be the equivalent of four to nine years for our pets. Health issues can rapidly change during that twelve-month period. Because of this, we recommend performing yearly bloodwork and urinalysis on our pets. This serves multiple purposes:
- It helps us establish baseline values for your pet, which is especially helpful if your pet falls ill.
- It allows us to monitor any changes that occur on a yearly basis and follow trends.
- We can detect disease earlier in many cases, with possibly a chance for cure or with early intervention, a better long-term prognosis and quality of life.
- We can tailor any medications that may be necessary as well as choosing pre-anesthetic and anesthesia options that are best for your pet.
There are many important aspects that can affect your pet’s overall health and comfort. Please call us at Mixed Pet – we’ll be happy to go over what is ideal for your individual pet.
Frequently Asked Questions
All heartworm preventatives are classified as pharmaceuticals that require a prescription from a veterinarian to purchase. There are no over-the-counter heartworm preventatives.
If you have wellness as part of your pet insurance then yes it covers preventative care.
Pet insurance is usually a reimbursement to the owner directly after the owner has paid the bill at the veterinary practice. So it has no bearing or association on the veterinary practice or cost for pet care.
Yes, routine visits are available from several insurance companies. Please ask us for our recommendation.
The labwork that is routinely done is considered preventative care. Labwork which is performed for a sick patient is not considered preventative care.