Annual physical exams are recommended to ensure the health of your pet. We provide a lifetime of care for your pets from birth into their senior years. Even if your pet appears healthy they can age considerably; just one human year can be equivalent to 5-10 pet years in a dog or cats life. Our veterinarians can detect potential problems during a physical exam, from heart murmurs, changes in lung sounds, changes in size and shape of internal organs, lymph nodes and possibly tumors. Checking the eyes can detect early signs of cataracts or other eye problems as well ears can be infected deep in the canal where it may go un-noticed at home. Dental disease, skin issues, lumps and bumps, and changes in weight will all be assessed during your pet’s exam.
Many health and behavioral changes in older pets can go un- noticed. They may be accepted as old age changes but can actually be signs of a treatable underlying disease. Annual exams give you an opportunity to ask our veterinarians questions about your pet’s health and environment. Our veterinarians may recommend additional tests to determine your pet’s overall health status or they may make recommendations for things you can do at home to improve overall quality of life.
Annual exams provide an opportunity to pick up on a variety of illnesses and prevent possible disease; by finding, diagnosing and treating these problems early your pet will have a much healthier, happier and longer life.
Vaccinations are necessary for the health of your pet, they prevent a variety of diseases. We follow the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association, and State guidelines in setting our standards of care for our patients. A Rabies vaccine is required for all dogs, cats and ferrets in the state of Maryland from 12 weeks of age and older. See below for more information on vaccine recommendations.
What You Should Know About Vaccinations -from AVMA
Heartworm Testing and Prevention
DOGS: Although heartworm disease is treatable, it can be fatal, and it is much easier to prevent than to let your dog suffer from the effects of heartworm disease. We recommend a monthly, year-round heartworm prevention and annual testing of your dog for heartworm disease. We recommend the use of monthly preventatives such as Proheart, Revolution, and Heartgard.
CATS: In the past it was thought that cats were not affected by heartworms, with current research we can now prove that they are affected. Cats with heartworms show signs of primary lung disease, Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD). However, even one worm in a cat can cause death without any symptoms at all. Testing for heartworm disease is more complex in cats than in dogs, and treatment options are limited and carry high risk of complications. We recommend year round use of Revolution, a monthly prevention for heartworm disease, fleas, intestinal parasites, mites and some tick prevention for your cat. Although cats that go outdoors are at a higher risk, even indoor cats can be infected with heartworms. In a study by the American Heartworm society, it was found that of the cats tested positive for heartworms, 20% of them were living indoors only.
Lyme Disease Testing and Prevention for Dogs
Lyme disease is heavily prevalent in our area. Although Lyme disease can be treated in most cases, it is much safer to prevent tick exposure continuously and vaccinate against the bacteria annually. We recommend year-round flea and tick prevention as well as the Lyme disease vaccine. If you would like to begin a yearly Lyme vaccine for your pet and he or she has not had the vaccine before they will need a vaccine series in order to properly protect them. The Lyme series is 2 vaccines 3 weeks apart, after that first year it will become a once yearly vaccine.
We have an in-hospital blood test to screen for 4 insect-transmitted diseases: Lyme disease, Heartworm disease, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichia. The doctor may recommend this test instead of the annual, solo heartworm test. This quick in-house blood test will only test positive if your pet has been exposed to the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. It will be required if your dog has never been vaccinated or if it has been 18 months from the last annual Lyme vaccine. In addition, should your dog test positive for Lyme disease the doctor may advised that an additional blood sample be sent out to the lab. This measures the Lyme C6 antibody (only found in the bacteria, not in the vaccine) and it will help decide if treatment needs to be implemented or repeated.
Lyme Disease and Cats
At this time it is not believed that cats develop any signs from Lyme exposure. Scientists know that cats can have the bacteria but they are unable to link it to any clinical disease. This may change in the future after more tests are done. It is still recommended that all pets in a household have adequate tick prevention for the safety of the entire household.
Fecal Testing and Parasite Prevention
Fecal testing is important! Many intestinal parasites are not just potential hazards to pets but to people as well. The CDC or Centers of Disease Control and Prevention for human and animal diseases, recommends annual fecal testing and de-worming as well as monthly prevention for dogs and cats. To prevent disease transmission to other animals or to you and your family, we recommend annual testing of your pet’s fecal sample and de-worming as determined by your pet’s and family’s lifestyle. Even animals that live exclusively indoors can become infected through contamination off of shoes or other sources, it has been found that 30% of potting soil from houseplants contain Round worm eggs, which could pose a threat to you and your pets.
Our fecal samples are submitted to our reference laboratory for the most sensitive testing. Our lab is able to test for antibodies for parasites that are very difficult to find such as Giardia. If your pet is on a monthly heartworm prevention that was purchased through our clinic, it will already have intestinal parasite prevention included in it which covers some of the worms; a separate de-worming would be necessary if your pet had a worm which is not covered by the preventative or if they had Coccidia or Giardia. Our doctors will provide each pet with a parasite treatment plan based on their needs. We always recommend at least two de-worming treatments for puppies and kittens because they typically carry Round and Hook worms. Talk to one of our staff members at anytime to answer any questions you may have. The Companion Animal Parasite Council has more information regarding parasites and your pets.
Our Doctors will evaluate your pet’s teeth at each annual exam and determine whether or not your pet needs a dental cleaning. If a dental cleaning is recommended for your pet we will give you an estimate at that time based on your pet’s individual needs. We recommend continuous brushing to help improve your pet’s oral health and to help prevent and slow down any dental disease. Please see our dental page for more information
Flea and Tick Prevention
Flea and tick prevention is an important part of wellness care for all pets whether they are indoors mainly or outdoors a lot. Fleas can over run a household in a short period of time and can cause Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). Often eradicating a flea infestation can take months. Ticks can carry a variety of diseases that both people and dogs are susceptible to such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasmosis.
For our dog patients we recommend use of Vectra 3D which has fast acting protection against fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, lice, mites and sand fleas. Vectra can be easily applied on a monthly basis for the best protection. Dogs can also use Revolution as combination heartworm, flea, ear mite, Sarcoptic mange mites, and American dog tick prevention. Revolution can be used along with the Preventic collar which provides 97% effectiveness against ticks for up to three months.
For our cat patients we recommend use of Revolution which kills fleas, prevents heartworm disease, treats ear mites, and treats roundworms and hookworms. For cats that pick up a lot of ticks we recommend adding Frontline for additional tick control.
We offer Bayer’s ResQ Microchip which will permanently identify your pet. The ResQ microchip was chosen because it is an international and standardized chip so that pets can travel out of the United States. Standardization is important so that the microchip can be identified by all scanners. Some of the microchips produced and sold by individual stores are not standardized and the scanners used at local shelters are unable to read them, making them useless. We recommend this for all pets and we can place a microchip at anytime should you decide on one for your pet! ResQ does not charge any fee to register your pet or annual registration fees and registration can easily be completed online.
Canine and Feline Wellness Recommendations and Vaccination Worksheet