Have you ever wondered why we ask you to bring your pet in at least once a year for a wellness exam? It’s not just because we enjoy seeing you and your adorable pet (although that’s certainly a bonus). We ask you to schedule an annual wellness exam for many different reasons.
The early years
Puppies and kittens should be seen frequently during their first year of life, the main reason being to ensure they get immunized against many serious diseases. Dr. Zak will discuss what vaccinations are recommended for your pet. Core vaccines are designed to prevent diseases that are common in the environment, have a potential risk to humans, are required by law, or cause severe disease.
Leptospirosis is an example of a disease for which we consider the vaccine to be a core vaccine. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that is transmitted through urine, making any wet area an exposure risk. It has the potential to cause severe kidney disease and death, and has been found in increasing numbers in the Hamilton/Waterdown/Burlington area. Because of this increased risk, our patients need protection; in other areas where cases are rare, it is non-core.
Non-core vaccinations are recommended based on your pet’s risk of exposure.
Core puppy vaccinations:
- Distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza,
Life-style dependent (non-core) vaccinations:
- Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough)
- Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
Core kitten vaccinations:
- Panleukopenia (feline distemper)
- Rhinotracheitis, calicivirus
- Feline leukemia
Once your kitten is an adult, Feline Keukemia vaccination is considered non-core
Starting between 6 and 8 weeks of age, an initial series of vaccinations is given every 2 to 4 weeks until your pet is about 16 to 20 weeks of age.
Aside from vaccinations, it’s also important for us to examine young pets several times during that first year to make sure their heart and other organs are healthy, they’re gaining weight and muscle as expected, and their teeth and bones are developing normally.
And we can’t forget about the worms! Dr. Zak will recommend a deworming schedule to clear your pet of common intestinal parasites, as well as flea and tick control and preventive heartworm disease measures.
The Adult Years
As pets move into their adult years, we want to see them at least once a year for a regular checkup. During these visits, we’ll give your pet needed vaccine boosters, check blood work, and make sure your pet remains free of parasites. Annual wellness exams also give us the chance to catch any potential diseases or conditions as early as possible, when they’re often easier to treat or manage.
The Senior Years
Once pets start to move into their senior years (between 6 and 8 years of age for most pets, but sometimes a bit younger for larger breeds), we usually like to see them twice a year. Remember that pets age far faster than we do!
Semi-annual wellness exams may help give you more quality time with your pet. These visits help us detect any potential diseases or conditions, like arthritis or cognitive dysfunction (similar to Alzheimer’s in people), that become more common as pets age. The earlier we can catch such issues, the better.
Cats Deserve Special Attention…
Cats tend to be very good at hiding signs of disease, which is why bringing them in once a year for an exam is so crucial to their continued good health.
Although keeping cats inside helps to keep them safe from certain dangers, like getting hit by a car or attacked by another animal, even indoor-only cats remain at risk for internal and external parasites, infectious diseases, cancers, eye issues, and more. All cats benefit from regular veterinary attention.
…And So Do Pets with Chronic Conditions
Dogs and cats who have a chronic disease or are on regular medications often need more frequent vet visits. These visits let us check blood work and monitor your pet’s condition or disease, allowing your veterinarian to make crucial medication or other adjustments as needed.
What’s in a Wellness Exam for You?
Besides playing a crucial role in helping to keep your pet healthy throughout life, regular wellness exams also give you the opportunity to talk with us about any questions you might have. These visits are also the perfect time to bring up anything you’ve noticed that seems different with your pet, like a behavior that’s new or a lump you hadn’t noticed before.
Of course, if you have any concerns, there’s no need to wait for your pet’s regular exam. Don’t hesitate to call us right away. We’re here for you and your pet!