Just as annual physical exams are recommended for humans, they are recommended for our pets as well. If a health problem can be detected in its earliest stages, there is a far greater likelihood that it can be resolved and treated with less difficulty, less expense, and greater success. Early recognition of diseases is achieved by having a skilled veterinarian evaluate your pet on a regular basis, saving you and your pet from needless suffering and a larger financial burden. If your pet is older or has medical problems, they may need even more frequent examinations.
Annual visits to the veterinarian are so much more than just vaccines! Annual exams give us a chance to assess your pet’s overall health, discuss any changes we find, and educate you on advancements in veterinary care. It is also an opportunity for you to discuss your concerns and/or ask questions.
An examination begins at the nose and ends at the toes. Let’s go through an exam to see what our veterinarians look for:
- Examine your pet’s teeth and oral cavity
- Check your pet’s vision and examine the eyes
- Examine the ears for infection, ear mites, allergic reaction and other related health issues
- Examine the respiratory system
- Assess your pet’s heart and evaluate cardiac function
- Test your pet’s reflexes
- Palpate lymph nodes and the abdomen
- Inspect the skin and hair coat
- Palpate joints and muscles for arthritis and other orthopedic conditions
- Assess changes in your pet’s body weight, appetite, thirst, urination and bowel habits
- Inquire as to your pet’s activity level as well as mobility
- Examine your pet for any untreated pain
- Utilize laboratory testing to detect heartworm disease and any abnormalities in endocrine or organ function
- Assess and evaluate general or specific changes in your pet’s health since the last wellness visit
- Discuss preventive techniques with you, the pet owner
Puppy and Kitten Care:
The first year of life for your new puppy or kitten is the most important. Like human infants, puppies and kittens require special attention in order for them to grow and develop well. Our team of veterinarians and technicians partner with you to create a custom health plan so that your new family member receives the care required to get the best start in life.
Your puppy and kittens first year of care will include:
Physical Examinations: Your puppy’s or kitten’s lifetime of wellness starts with its first comprehensive physical exam. Puppies and kittens should have 3-4 exams between the ages of 6-16 weeks. These visits are important because they provide our veterinarians with an opportunity to assess your pet’s overall health, administer vaccines, and discuss common behavioral situations.
Vaccinations: Due to their developing immune systems, puppies and kittens must receive a series of properly staged vaccines. Because every puppy and kitten is unique, we tailor our vaccination recommendations based on their lifestyle and/or breed and according to the suggested medical guidelines.
Deworming: Dogs and cats become infected with intestinal parasites from eggs in a contaminated environment, by eating other animal that harbor immature worms, or through transmission from their mother. Since many intestinal parasites of puppies and kittens can be transmitted to humans, it is important to implement a deworming program early on in life. We will deworm you pet during each early life visit. We will also get your pet started on monthly heartworm preventative, which will treat any intestinal parasites they may develop.
Diagnostic Testing: Kittens should be tested for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Additional Recommendations: Your veterinarian will also discuss and recommend other services, such as spaying, neutering, and microchipping.
For Our Senior Pets
As our pets age, we don’t always recognize the subtle symptoms they may exhibit. Organ function can decrease over time without our pets showing any signs or symptoms of disease. Wellness blood screens and urine panels should be done annually and even biannually in our elderly patients. Trends on yearly blood panels can lead veterinarians in diagnosing disease early. Early detection allows us to make changes in a pet’s diet and lifestyle. We may also intervene with medication to limit damage to that particular organ system.
Vaccinations play an important role in helping your pet live a long, healthy life. They stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies that help defend against disease.
Canine Vaccination Recommendation:
Core vaccines are recommended for all puppies and dogs. The diseases involved have significant morbidity and mortality and are widely distributed, and in general, vaccination results in relatively good protection from disease. Our core vaccines for healthy dogs include:
For initial puppy vaccination, one dose of Distemper/Parvo/Adenovirus vaccine is recommended every 3-4 weeks from 6-8 weeks of age, with the final booster being given no sooner than 16 weeks of age. For dogs older than 16 weeks of age, two doses of vaccine given 3-4 weeks apart are recommended.
In accordance with Texas state law, we recommend that puppies receive a single dose of killed rabies vaccine at 16 weeks or 4 months of age. Adult dogs with unknown vaccination history should also receive a single dose of rabies vaccine. A booster is required annually in Gillespie County.
Commonly administered non-core vaccines for dogs include:
Non-core vaccines are optional vaccines that should be considered based on exposure risk of the animal, ie. geographic distribution and the lifestyle of the pet.
- Leptospirosis (recommended for most pets in the area)
- Bordetella (Kennel Cough)
- Crotalus atrox (Rattlesnake)
- Canine Influenza Virus
Feline Vaccination Recommendations
Pedernales Veterinary Center uses a brand of vaccine known as PureVax by Merial. These vaccines are free of any adjuvants [additives), which may decrease the likelihood of any serious reaction. We recommend the following vaccines for cats:
- Feline Herpes Virus
- Parvovirus (Panleukopenia)
- Feline leukemia vaccination is strongly recommend for outdoor cats, as well as cats that go out in screened porches.
We try and keep the cost for spay/neuter at a minimum. That said, when it comes to quality, we do not skimp.
All of our spay/neuter procedures are preceded by a complete physical examination. During the anesthesia, a veterinary technician continually assesses your pet’s vital signs including patient temperature, heart rate, blood oxygen saturation (SPO2), electrocardiogram, respiratory rate, end CO2, and blood pressure.
Also, pain management is never compromised. Each patient is given pre and post operative pain medication to ensure the highest standard of care.
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease transmitted my mosquitos. Factors that encourage heartworm development are warm temperatures and high humidity, which also contribute to large reservoirs of breeding mosquitoes, thus making Texas one of the largest hot-spots for heartworm disease. All dogs, regardless of age, sex, or living environment, are susceptible to heartworm infection. Indoor, as well as outdoor, cats are also at risk for the disease. Because heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, any pet exposed to mosquitoes should be tested.
Dogs: The dog is a natural host for heartworms, which means that heartworms that live inside the dog mature into adults, mate and produce offspring. If untreated, their numbers can increase, causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone. For this reason, prevention is by far the best option, and treatment—when needed—should be administered as early in the course of the disease as possible.
Cats: Heartworm disease in cats is very different from heartworm disease in dogs. The cat is an atypical host for heartworms, and most worms in cats do not survive to the adult stage. Cats with adult heartworms typically have just one to three worms, and many cats affected by heartworms have no adult worms. While this means heartworm disease often goes undiagnosed in cats, it’s important to understand that even immature worms cause real damage in the form of a condition known as heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD). Moreover, the medication used to treat heartworm infections in dogs cannot be used in cats, so prevention is the only means of protecting cats from the effects of heartworm disease.
If you would like to have your pet tested for heartworm disease, or if you would like additional information on how best to protect your pet and your family from these dangerous parasites, please contact us for an appointment. We carry a variety of different heartworm preventatives, and recommend they be given year round.
The American Heartworm Society is an excellent resource for further information on Heartworm disease
Fleas and ticks are more than just an annoyance. They cause distress in dogs and cats and, more important, they cause disease. By the time a pet owner notices fleas on a pet, the fleas have already fed on the pet, transmitted any infectious agents and begun laying eggs. Treatment of fleas and ticks in Texas should be year-round, not just when these parasites are noticed on your pet. Contact us for more information on how to best protect your pet.