While many pet owners think their furry friend needs to visit a veterinarian only when they’re ill or injured, routine wellness care can go a long way toward keeping them happy and healthy, and avoiding those more costly emergency visits. Many pet owners also believe wellness care consists of a few “shots,” but it encompasses much more. When your four-legged pal comes to Animal Medical Hospital of Naples, we’ll follow these five steps to keep your furry friend in tip-top shape for years to come.
Step 1: Perform a thorough physical exam on your pet
During your pet’s wellness exam, Dr. Corbo or Dr. Palmer will thoroughly examine your pet from whiskers-to-tail to check for any abnormalities that may indicate underlying disease. Each body system will be evaluated for issues, such as:
- Heart — We will determine whether your pet’s heart rate is in the normal range for a pet their size, and listen for arrhythmias or murmurs.
- Lungs — When auscultating your pet’s lungs, we’ll listen for crackles and wheezes, evaluate their breathing rate and effort, and search for muffled lung sounds.
- Eyes — Eye issues can progress quickly, leading to severe pain or blindness. We’ll use an ophthalmoscope and other specialized equipment to detect cataracts, lenticular sclerosis, glaucoma, or corneal ulcers.
- Ears — Mites, yeast, and bacteria commonly infect cats’ and dogs’ ears, and ear infections can become extremely painful if left untreated. We’ll also ensure your pet’s eardrum remains intact, with no signs of infection, inflammation, or polyps.
- Mouth — Most pets have some form of dental disease by age 3, so we make a point of closely examining each pet’s mouth for signs of gingivitis, tartar, infection, fractured teeth, resorptive lesions, or other periodontal problems.
- Abdomen — We will palpate your pet’s abdomen, and check organ shape and size, and for abdominal discomfort or masses.
- Skin — Many pets suffer from allergies or other skin issues, including ectoparasites. A close exam will reveal the cause of any itchiness.
A thorough physical exam is an essential part of your pet’s wellness care, and can help us discover many abnormalities, and signs of illness and disease.
Step 2: Evaluate your pet’s lifestyle and potential risks
Rather than performing cookie-cutter wellness care, our veterinarians carefully determine your pet’s unique needs by evaluating their lifestyle and potential exposure risk to contagious diseases. Over time, their health care needs will change, and their wellness care plan will change with them. For example, if your dog no longer visits a doggy daycare facility and stays with family while you’re on vacation, no longer coming in contact with other dogs, we may drop the Bordetella vaccination from their regimen.
Step 3: Perform baseline diagnostic testing on your pet
While you may consider diagnostic testing useful only when your pet is ill, routine testing allows us to monitor your furry pal’s health and establish a baseline of normal values. By comparing your pet’s values at their annual or biannual wellness exams, we can detect subtle changes that may indicate an early disease process, granting an easier treatment plan and a better prognosis. Routine blood work monitors your pet’s organ function, detecting such conditions as diabetes, thyroid imbalances, and liver or kidney disease, and guides us toward additional testing to discover the cause of abnormalities. As your pet ages, we may also recommend a urinalysis, blood pressure testing, chest X-rays, or other diagnostic tests, to monitor their health.
Step 4: Make recommendations to improve your pet’s quality of life
Based on our physical exam and diagnostic testing, we can make recommendations that will help your furry pal live their best life. Depending on our findings, we may offer advice regarding these aspects of your pet’s care:
- Dental health
- Diet and nutrition
- Weight management and exercise
- Behavior modification
Step 5: Protect your pet from preventable illnesses and diseases
Another key aspect of your pet’s wellness care is protection from life-threatening, but preventable, diseases. By appropriately vaccinating your pet based on their lifestyle and exposure risk, we can greatly minimize or eliminate their chances of contracting a fatal illness. We will also prescribe heartworm, flea, and tick medication, to keep your pet safe from parasites that can transmit a variety of potentially deadly illnesses, such as heartworm disease, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis, and many intestinal parasites.
Is your furry pal in need of a comprehensive wellness visit? Give us a call to schedule a preventive care visit, to ensure your pet’s continued good health.