Wellness Care

Preventive care of pets, which we call Wellness Care, is very important, since most pets have short lives compared to us, and disease processes appear sooner than we expect.




A complicating factor that adds to this rapid progression of disease is a pet’s ability to hide illness from you. By the time you notice a problem and bring your pet in for an exam, the disease is well entrenched, and we have a difficult time correcting the problem.

Wellness care at our hospital consists of the following:

  1. A thorough history and physical exam of your pet
  2.  Diagnostic tests as appropriate for early detection of disease
  3. Review of your pet’s exam and diagnostic test results with a doctor
  4. Treatment plan to address minor problems before they become major
wellness-scaled-600x400

Wellness Physical Exam

What are the steps you can take to increase your pet’s quality and length of life? It all starts with awareness. Bringing your pet in for an exam, fecal test for worms, and a basic blood panel, on a yearly basis, is the first part of this awareness. This can be timed when it is due for vaccines.

During this yearly wellness exam one of our doctors will go through a detailed examination checklist. Based on these exam findings you will receive written feedback and instructions specifically for your pet.

We are a team in your pet’s health, and to help you identify problems before they progress we have a page showing you how to do an In Home Exam. Next time you are in we will perform this with you on your pet.

Wellness Diagnostic Tests

A comprehensive blood panel is a routine part of our Wellness Exam. This blood panel checks the white blood cells, the red blood cells, important organs like the liver and kidney, along with protein levels, electrolytes, and thyroid level.

In dogs it also includes a heart worm test, and in cats at also includes FeLV and FIV tests in addition to a heart worm test.

A urinalysis to check the kidneys and urinary bladder, along with a fecal exam for internal parasites, is included in our exam.

Cats that are over 8 years of age might also get a blood pressure check.

Our Wellness blood panel is available to our doctors within 24 hours. You will be called to discuss the results over the phone. If there are no problems a report card will be mailed to you reviewing the tests and what your doctor told you.

If a problem is found on the blood panel your doctor will discuss it with you, and also give you a reference to our web site for more information. A detailed report will be sent to you in order to review what was said. You are welcome at any time to make an appointment for a no charge review of your pets lab data and to have a custom plan set up for your pet’s care.

Blood Panel Showing Elevated Kidney Tests

The blood panel is very thorough. This one caught a kidney problem in a cat.

In Home Exam

During a Wellness check our doctor will show you how to perform a basic physical exam that can be performed by you at home. You will learn how to check you pet’s eyes, ears, gums, and lymph nodes.

This exam is not meant to replace a thorough exam by one of our veterinarians. It is for you to look for early signs of disease, and to catch a problem before the problem becomes much more entrenched. As time goes on you will be able to do this readily, and we suggest you do it weekly.

We have a detailed page on the In Home Exam, and examples of how to do it. You will become an expert in not time!

Examining A Cat

This cat is getting its submandibular lymph nodes checked. Once we
do a show-and-tell on an office call you will be an expert in
palpating lymph nodes!

Common Problems Detected During A Wellness Exam

1. Dental Disease

This is by far the most common problem we encounter during a physical exam. It is so important we have a complete page dedicated to Dental Disease. It was the first page on this web site when we first started it in 1997, and gives you all the information you need regarding this problem.

It is overlooked by almost all pet owners due to the difficulty in examining a pet’s oral cavity and lack of awareness as to its importance. We cannot overemphasize the importance of good dental hygiene for your pet. It is the source of needless suffering and disease, and is completely preventable.

Follow this link to learn much more about Dental Disease

dental-radiograph-400x300

We use digital radiography to find painful problems with rotten roots that are not apparent during an exam.

2. Arthritis

This insidious problem sneaks up on pets as they age. A pet that was a little stiff, or doesn’t walk as long or as fast as it used to, or is not quite as active as it used to be, can seemingly become debilitated overnight. It is now in obvious pain, is not eating, and oftentimes cannot use its rear legs.

In reality this problem did not occur overnight. You missed the subtle signs of its progression because your pet hid them from you. This arthritic problem needs to be addressed as your pet reaches middle age and before the problem progresses. Our arthritis page has lots of information on treatment and prevention.

Dogs and cats get many forms of arthritis. A common, and insidious one, is called spondylosis. It occurs in the spine of the mid to lower back usually.

To learn much more about follow this link arthritis .

We light a candle in our reception area notifying others that a euthanasia is in progress in one of our exam rooms, and to please be respectful by showing appropriate behavior.

One of the forms  required in the state of California is verification that your pet has not bitten anyone in the last 10 days. This is to prevent the chance that fatal rabies has been transmitted to someone. If your pet has bitten someone then it either has to be tested for rabies, or quarantined for 10 days, before we can proceed with euthanasia.

dog-spondylosis-enlarged-bladder

It is easily seen in this radiograph at two locations under the red circles. This is painful.

3. Obesity

Obese pets are prone to an array of diseases. Important ones are arthritis,  sugar diabetes (diabetes mellitus) and liver disease (hepatic lipidosis). If your pet is overweight we will instruct you on the proper food to correct the obesity. It might be a higher fiber diet, it might be a lower carbohydrate and higher protein diet. Every pet is different, and there is no blanket approach, so we treat each case of obesity individually.

The diet your pet should be on, no matter whether it is healthy or ill, should not be decided by advice from a pet store or feed store.  Their main goal is to sell you food, mostly based on marketing, and not tailor made to your pet’s specific needs. We prescribe food based on your pet’s body condition score, physical exam results, diagnostic test results, age, lifestyle, and many decades of extensive training, experience, and continuing education, on animal diseases.

You can learn more about some of the foods we recommend from our Prescription Diets page. You are welcome to purchase the food anywhere you want, and we will give you a written prescription to do so. Our primary interest is in the health of your pet and its quality of life, not selling you food.

Some of the foods we commonly recommend for obesity :

  • R/D
  • M/D
  • W/D
  • Metabolic

Obesity and arthritis go hand in hand, and there is a food called Metabolic and Mobility from Hill’s that addresses both of these issues

Arthritis is also a cat problem, and since cats are so highly prone to kidney disease, this diet helps in both of these problems in overweight cats

4. Cancer

As pets live longer they are more prone to getting cancer. Cancer is many different diseases, and acts differently in different species.

The most common cancers we encounter are of the skin, lymph nodes, and internal organs. Some are diagnosed during an exam, others need diagnostic tests like blood panels, radiographs, ultrasounds, and biopsies.

Like any cancer, the earlier it is diagnosed the more that can be done to treat it. One of the best ways to diagnose cancer early is with a yearly wellness exam.

We have a detailed page on common cancers to help you understand it better.

We light a candle in our reception area notifying others that a euthanasia is in progress in one of our exam rooms, and to please be respectful by showing appropriate behavior.

One of the forms  required in the state of California is verification that your pet has not bitten anyone in the last 10 days. This is to prevent the chance that fatal rabies has been transmitted to someone. If your pet has bitten someone then it either has to be tested for rabies, or quarantined for 10 days, before we can proceed with euthanasia.

cancer-lymphnode-radiograph

The red circle outlines lymph nodes that are enlarged due to cancer. We would not have know this without a radiograph since they cannot easily be felt during an exam.

5. Kidney Disease (especially in cats)

This problem is especially important in cats since many of them get kidney disease as they age. We have diagnostic tests that are performed during a Wellness Check to help us diagnose the problem before your pet has a poor quality of life. Our Kidney page  has all the details.

One of the most important preventive and also treatment measures we institute for pets is a diet specific for kidney disease. Depending on the stage of the problem we use various versions of these diets.

One of the most important foods to give your pet when our Wellness Exam might indicate the start of a kidney problem is Hill’s Early Support K/D.

 

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