At North DeKalb Veterinary Clinic we believe true wellness care means taking a lifestyle approach. Your pet’s wellbeing and their relationship with you depends on preventive health measures that keep them healthy for the long-term. Our pet wellness care plans are built on a solid foundation of communication between you, your pet, and your veterinarian. When we better understand their lifestyle, we can provide more comprehensive care informed by our deeper understanding.
What Does a Wellness Visit Cover?
During a wellness visit, our veterinarian will check your pet’s entire body for signs of illness or injury. If your furry friend gets nervous at the doctor, call the office ahead of time to see if your pet can be prescribed a calming medication to ease their anxiety before coming in. Don’t forget to bring your pet’s favorite treats or toy to the appointment to assure them it’s not as scary as it seems!
One of the first things we’ll check is your pet’s temperature using a digital rectal thermometer. Just like in humans, a temperature that is too low or too high can be dangerous. An abnormal temperature could be a sign of a health problem, such as a viral or bacterial infection, that may need further investigation through blood work or other diagnostic tests. Don’t worry, we’ll make this part quick!
2. Skin and Coat
Not only is your pet’s fur great for snuggles, the skin and coat are also a fantastic window into the internal health of your pet. Your pet’s body is complex, and a variety of internal conditions manifest as issues with the skin and coat.
• Yellow skin is a sign of liver problems.
• Itchy and irritated skin could mean your pet is allergic to something in their food or their environment.
• Flaky skin with excess dander could mean your pet is missing a key nutrient in their diet.
• Skin with poor elasticity is a sign of dehydration.
• Missing patches of fur could indicate a bacterial infection, parasitic infection like mites or fleas, or fungal infection like ringworm or yeast.
All of these issues are addressed in different ways, but they are all windows to the health of your pet. Diagnostics for skin conditions may include hair plucks (trichoscopy), or skin scrapings. If your pet has developed mats in its coat, this visit is also a good opportunity to remove those mats to make your pet more comfortable.
You love your pet with all your heart, so make sure theirs is healthy! Our vet will listen to your pet’s heart movement using a stethoscope, though it will likely be pumping quickly due to being a bit stressed. A listen to the heart is especially important in very young or very old animals to check for abnormalities that can affect blood flow, like a heart murmur or heart disease. Our veterinarian may choose perform an echocardiogram, or ultrasound of the heart, to get a better look at the heart’s size, strength, and function.
We recommend testing your dog for heartworm yearly. Heartworm, which is spread by mosquitos, is a life-threatening parasitic infection of worms living inside a dog’s bloodstream. It’s difficult and expensive to treat, but easy to test for with a quick blood test and easy to prevent with monthly medication given in treat form. Yum!
Our vet will check that your pet’s breathing is normal by taking their respiratory rate, or how quickly your pet is breathing, by counting the rise and fall of their breath. It’s normal for the respiratory rate to be high under stress, like during a vet visit – some dogs may even pant under stress. If abnormal breathing is detected, our vet may choose to perform diagnostic tests, like blood work, an x-ray, or an ultrasound, to find the best path forward in keeping your pet healthy.
A lot of vital functions occur in the abdomen – the stomach, intestines, liver, kidneys, and other important organs live here. Our vet will feel the tummy area to check for any abnormalities. Sometimes it’s possible to even feel your pet’s previous dinner in there! During the exam, our vet will make sure there are no lumps, bumps, or painful spots around those important organs – and if there are, diagnostic tests like an ultrasound or exploratory surgery may be used to get your pet back to tip-top shape.
6. Teeth and Gums
Dental care for pets is often overlooked far past the point of needing attention, so our vet will let you know if a dental cleaning is recommended based on the exam. If your pet’s breath smells or their gums are sore and red, then it’s definitely time to schedule a dental cleaning! Even though it’s common for dogs and cats to have smelly breath, it’s not healthy. Pets need dental cleaning just like we do, but since they don’t usually brush twice a day, a thorough, professional cleaning is critical to prevent dental disease. But don’t worry – dental cleanings are a routine procedure that can be done in-house by our veterinarian. Our vet will remove tartar from the teeth and check for any foreign objects that may have become stuck in your pet’s teeth over time, like fur or foxtails. Your furry friend will have a sparkling smile and fresh breath in no time!
7. Eyes and Ears
Vital to your connection with your pet, eyes, and ears shouldn’t go unchecked! Our vet will make sure your pet has normal vision and hearing abilities. Dogs especially are notorious for having ear infections, so we’ll take a peek inside the ear and prescribe medication to clear up any issues.
8. Paws and Nails
Some pets, particularly active dogs, have a tendency to injure their little feet during their playtime and adventures. A quick check of the paw pads and nails will ensure there are no painful rips, chips, or tears that need attention. Now would be a good time to get those nails clipped as well!
The best way to protect your pet from serious preventable illnesses is to make sure they are fully vaccinated. Our vet will administer any vaccinations that your pet is due for. All pets should get their core vaccines (rabies, DHPP in dogs, and FVRCP in cats), which protect them from the most common and the most dangerous diseases:
• Adenovirus (Hepatitis)
Puppies and kittens should start their combination vaccine series at eight weeks old (or younger) and receive a series of booster shots until fully vaccinated. At four months old, both dogs and cats are required to receive a rabies vaccine. A periodic booster vaccine (every year or every few years, depending on the vaccine) will keep your pet’s immune system ready to fight.
Schedule Your Wellness Exam
Puppy-breathed or white-whiskered, it’s important for pets of all ages to get their checkup.
So, what are you waiting for? Bringing your pet in for their annual wellness exam is one of the easiest ways you can help your friend stay happy and healthy for a lifetime – they deserve it.
Give us a call today to schedule your pet’s wellness exam!