“An Ounce of Prevention” – Preventative Care for Pets
Remember that old saying? At Westlake Animal Hospital, the idea of “an ounce of prevention” is the foundation of our practice philosophy. Routine checkups, screening tests and other preventative measures can help your pet avoid serious health problems and help you and your veterinarian to work as a team to manage your pet’s health.
What is preventative care?
Preventative care focuses on maintaining your pet’s health and establishing his or her baseline health status. This may include updating vaccines, performing a thorough physical exam, lab work including heartworm testing and fecal examinations, and regular dental care.
Recommended Screenings and Vaccinations
During your preventative visit, your doctor will determine what tests or screenings are appropriate for your pet based on his or her age, breed, spay/neuter status, individual health status, and current symptoms or health concerns. Working with your veterinarian, you can use this knowledge to make informed medical decisions that suit your pet’s lifestyle and daily habits, as well as your budget.
General recommendations include:
- Thorough physical examinations every 6 months for all adult cats and dogs
- Regular heartworm, flea, and intestinal parasite prevention for all cats and dogs
- Routine vaccinations- specific recommendations are based on lifestyle, age, and health status
- Complete blood count and chemistry panels every 6 to 12 months for adult cats and dogs
- Yearly urine checks for senior dogs and cats
- Yearly intestinal parasite screenings for adult cats and dogs
- Yearly heartworm testing for dogs
- Yearly screening for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Feline Leukemia Virus for outdoor cats
- Routine dental care, including professional dental cleanings on an as-needed basis
- Screening x-rays and ultrasounds on an as-needed basis
Our recommendations are based on the American Animal Hospital Association’s guidelines.
At-Home Preventative Care
In addition to bi-annual hospital visits, there are several preventative care steps we recommend taking at home. The most important of these is weight management. Weight management plays a crucial role in preventing many diseases, including arthritis, diabetes, heart, and liver disease. In fact, Nestlé Purina’s Life Span Study (released in 2002) showed dogs with an ideal body weight lived on average 15 percent longer (about 2 years) than their overweight counterparts. If your pet is overweight, contact your veterinarian for a weight loss plan.
Next up is administration of regular parasite preventative. Typically, this is a combination product that prevents heartworms, intestinal parasites, and fleas. Most products are used monthly. In Texas, use of parasite prevention is recommended year round. We recommend parasite prevention even for indoor-only pets, as mosquitos and other parasite-spreading insects can be present inside the home and fleas can be carried in on clothes and shoes of people coming in and out of the home.
Last, but not least on the at-home preventative care list is regular dental home care. This may include brushing, water additives, and/or dental chews and treats. Brushing is best, but not all pets will allow brushing and many owners do not have time to brush; this is where water additives and treats or chews can be very beneficial. The Veterinary Oral Health Council keeps a complete list of approved products – see the list here. All of these products have undergone testing to prove that they substantially reduce tartar buildup. Reducing tartar and gingivitis not only keeps the teeth healthy, it also helps keep the heart, kidneys, and liver healthy.
Summing it Up
An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. Regular preventative health care can help your pet live a longer, happier, and healthier life- and that is why, here at Westlake Animal Hospital, we are proud to provide the highest level of preventative care. If you have any questions about your pet’s preventative care plan, please give us a call- we would love to discuss this essential part of your pet’s overall health care program.