Wellness planning starts when pets are young. The first part of a wellness plan involves immunizations (vaccinations). Immunizations help to protect your pets from contagious and potential fatal diseases. We recommend starting immunizations for puppies and kittens when they are 8 weeks old and continue every 3-4 weeks until they are about 16 weeks old. For puppies the major diseases in the vaccine are parvovirus and distemper. These viral diseases are very contagious to other puppies and dogs. Parvovirus is an intestinal virus that can cause vomiting and bloody diarrhea. It can be very debilitating and can potentially be fatal. Distemper can present with upper respiratory signs with thick nose or eye discharge and progress to neurological signs with head bobbing and stumbling around. For kittens, distemper or panleukopenia is the major viral disease. This disease can present with gastrointestinal signs which include vomiting, diarrhea, and poor weight gain. Depression and dehydration are other signs that can occur. This is a potentially fatal disease. Rabies is another viral disease that animals can contract and they need to receive routine vaccines for Rabies. Rabies can affect any warm blooded animal including dogs, cats and wildlife such as skunks and bats. Rabies can be transmitted to people. Rabies can cause neurological signs in animals and people and it can be deadly. Colorado recently has seen an increase in wildlife testing positive for Rabies. It is of vital importance that your pets are vaccinated for Rabies.
Another part of wellness planning involves wellness screening. Wellness screening can be done at any age. Wellness screening includes annual blood work. Annual blood work is important to establish a baseline value for your pet. It also helps to determine the safest type of medication or anesthesia for your pet. Also, by running annual blood work, it can detect slight changes so that appropriate treatment can be implemented in a more timely fashion. Treatment can include medications, prescription diets, and nutraceuticals and these treatments can potentially extend a pet’s life. Annual blood work includes a chemistry profile and a complete blood count (CBC). A chemistry panel evaluates the major organs which includes the liver and kidneys. A CBC evaluates the red blood cells, the white blood cells, and platelets for significant increases or decreases. Other blood work that might be recommended is heartworm testing for dogs and feline leukemia (FeLV) /feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) testing for cats. Heartworm disease is spread by infected mosquitos. FeLV and FIV occur in any cat, but occur more commonly in cats that go outdoors.
The final part of wellness screening involves senior pets. Dogs and cats age differently than people. Dogs are considered to be a senior around 7 years of age and cats are considered to be a senior around 9 years of age. Our goal is to have your pets live a longer, more comfortable life. Signs to monitor in aging animals are appetite, water consumption, urination, and mobility. Annual blood work can establish a baseline for your pet and it can identify existing health problems. It can help to recognize mild disease earlier and start treatment earlier. Treatment can include prescription diets, prescription medication, and nutraceuticals. Blood work also monitors response to treatment and helps to determine if a change in medication is needed. In senior pets, annual evaluation of a urine sample (urinalysis) is recommended. A urinalysis can help to evaluate kidney function, to evaluate for infection, and to evaluate for diabetes. Other tests that are recommended for senior pets are radiographs (X-rays) and electrocardiogram (ECG). Radiographs can help evaluate the heart and lungs for disease. An ECG can test for heart disease and prescreen the heart prior to anesthesia. This can aid in determining the safest anesthesia for your pet.
Please call us at Healthy Pets Animal Hospital for further details and so that we can tailor a wellness program for your pet.