Westside Animal HospitalPreventive Pet Health Care & Pet Wellness Exams
At Westside Animal Hospital, we want to partner with you to keep your pet healthy. An annual wellness exam allows us to evaluate your pet’s health and detect problems before they turn into serious illnesses. Because animals can’t tell us how they feel, we must rely on a thorough physical examination and direct observation to determine if your pet is truly healthy.
As part of wellness examinations, routine blood testing, urinalysis, and other tests are generally recommended for all pets to help establish baseline values used for comparison later in your pet’s life. Based on the results of these tests, the physical exam, and your pet’s age, we may recommend further diagnostic tests, such as X-rays of the chest and abdomen. This is what we call our Early Detection Program. The veterinarian evaluates your pet’s heart and lungs, reproductive system, skin, and feels your pet’s abdomen to detect enlarged organs or masses. If any abnormalities are found, we may recommend additional tests to diagnose or confirm a health problem. Your pet should also receive yearly immunizations, as vaccines are one of the best tools of preventive medicine.
The Pet Wellness Exam
Because pets age quicker than we do, it is essential that your pet visit us for a wellness exam at least once a year—and more frequently as he or she ages. Taking your pet to the veterinarian once a year is the same as if you were to see a physician for a physical exam only once every six years. Because so much can change in such a short amount of time, you can’t afford to have your pet miss even one exam. Just like people, pets need more frequent attention as they get older to prevent and treat illnesses associated with old age.
Prior to your wellness appointment, we ask you to complete a simple health questionnaire. This questionnaire will ask about any unusual behaviors or symptoms, such as:
- Excessive urination
- Excessive drinking of water
- Excessive scratching
- Excessive panting
- Eating much more than usual
- Weight gain
- Weight loss
For your convenience, you fill out our Health Questionnaire online before your appointment.
Notes will be made on your pet’s diet, any signs of weakness, exercise intolerance, or trouble getting up and down. The doctor will also discuss your pet’s exposure to fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites at some point during the exam.
The veterinary assistant will record your pet’s body weight. Weight loss could indicate early stages of metabolic disease, such as diabetes or kidney disease. An important consideration in pet health, an extra 2 or 3 pounds can mean the difference between being fit or obese.
The doctor will examine ears and eyes, as well as your pet’s gums, teeth, tongue, and palate for tartar buildup, dental abnormalities, fractures, loose teeth, tumors, infections, and other problems. Learn how dental problems can affect your pet’s overall health and wellbeing. The veterinarian also evaluates your pet’s heart and lungs, reproductive system, skin, and feels your pet’s abdomen to detect enlarged organs or masses. If any abnormalities are found, we may recommend additional tests to diagnose or confirm a health problem. Your pet may also receive immunizations, as vaccines are one of the best tools of preventive medicine.
Early detection blood screening should be done yearly on healthy adult pets and before any procedure that involves anesthesia, such as spay or neuter, major surgery, or dentistry. After age 6, pet care follows our senior wellness protocols.
If detected early, 75% of common diseases in dogs and 63% of common diseases in cats can be prevented by dietary modifications alone over a one-year period. For example:
- Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms, spread to dogs and cats through the bite of a mosquito. A monthly heartworm prevention program is the only safe way to protect your pet from this disease.
- Kidney disease is a major cause of illness and death in dogs and cats, but symptoms do not usually appear until two-thirds of the kidney function has been lost. If caught early, your pet could live happily with this condition for many years.
- Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed in one in ten cats over 9 years old. A common cause of death just 20 years ago, now it is treated easily—the earlier, the better.
- A liver problem detected at an early stage of the disease can be administered proper treatment, greatly enhancing the chance of your pet’s recovery.
- Early detection of diabetes is extremely important—an early therapy regime can be more effective and easier on the pet and prevent damage to other organs.
In most instances, we use an outside reference lab for our blood work, fecal exams, and heartworm tests, but our in-house laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art blood chemistry and hematology machines for medical emergencies. You can be assured that a team of trained, dedicated professionals is performing the test on your pet.