Your pet is in good hands.
Annual wellness care is imperative to keeping your pet happy and healthy!
Your pet’s health is important, and preventive care is necessary. We recommend wellness exams, keeping your pets on a vaccination schedule, and working with us on all facets of wellness care.
From the first visit and throughout their entire life, we’ll be there to provide the absolute best care for your pet. Our wellness care measures can maximize your pet’s life both in terms of what your pet can do and for how long. Annual physical exams are essential! Many of our younger patients have yearly exams, but we recommend exams every six months for aging pets or those who have medical conditions.
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure, and damage to other organs in the body. Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats, and ferrets, but heartworms also live in other mammal species, including wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions, and—in rare instances—humans. Because wild species such as foxes and coyotes live in proximity to many urban areas, they are considered important carriers of the disease.
When should my dog be tested?
All dogs should be tested annually for heartworm infection, and this can usually be done during a routine visit for preventive care. Following are guidelines on testing and timing:
Puppies under 8 months of age can be started on heartworm prevention without a heartworm test (it takes at least 6 months for a dog to test positive after it has been infected) but should be tested at your 10-month visit.
Adult dogs over 7 months of age and previously not on a preventive need to be tested prior to starting heartworm prevention. They, too, need to be tested 6 months and 12 months later and annually after that.
If there has been a lapse in prevention (one or more late or missed doses), dogs should be tested immediately, then tested again six months later and annually after that.
Annual testing is necessary, even when dogs are on heartworm prevention year-round, to ensure that the prevention program is working. “Heartworm medications are highly effective, but dogs can still become infected. If you miss just one dose of a monthly medication—or give it late—it can leave your dog unprotected. Even if you give the medication as recommended, your dog may spit out or vomit a heartworm pill—or rub off a topical medication. Heartworm preventives are highly effective but not 100 percent effective. If you don’t get your dog tested, you won’t know your dog needs treatment.”
When should my cat be tested?
Heartworm infection in cats is harder to detect than in dogs because cats are much less likely than dogs to have adult heartworms. The preferred method for screening cats includes the use of both an antigen and an antibody test (the “antibody” test detects exposure to heartworm larvae). Your veterinarian may also use x-rays or ultrasound to look for heartworm infection. Cats should be tested before being put on prevention and re-tested as the veterinarian deems it appropriate to document continued exposure and risk. Because there is no approved treatment for heartworm infection in cats, prevention is critical.
While dogs and cats have some of the same vaccinations like rabies and distemper, they also have different vaccination needs based on the diseases that can affect their species. Our veterinarians will work with you to set up a comprehensive, personalized vaccination schedule to protect your pet.
Feline Leukemia Virus
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) affects about 2-3% of cats in the U.S., and while that seems like a small number, FeLV is one of the most common infectious diseases in cats.
Thanks to vaccine development and more accurate testing, the prevalence of FeLV has decreased significantly. However, it’s a serious disease that all cat owners should understand.
Diagnosis of FeLV infection is based on a cat’s medical history, clinical signs, and test results. Blood work will identify the presence of FeLV.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for feline leukemia virus at this time. Treatment is focused on the problems associated with the disease, like antibiotics for infections or blood transfusions for severe anemia. Diarrhea, kidney disease, or chronic muscle loss may require a special diet.
Infections are an ongoing concern due to a weakened immune system. More than 50% of FeLV-infected cats succumb to related diseases within two to three years after infection. Cats should be monitored for signs of infection as well as any signs of abnormality. Any changes should be discussed with your veterinarian immediately.
FeLV-infected cats should be kept indoors and be separated from other healthy cats to prevent transmission. Good nutrition and regular vet checkups are also crucial for maintaining health and quality of life.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) attacks the immune system in infected cats. Due to a weakened immune system, cats with FIV are prone to developing other infections and severe illnesses.
FIV is the same class of virus as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and causes a disease in cats that is similar to AIDS in humans. However, only cats can get FIV; people and dogs cannot.
To diagnose FIV in your cat, your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam, run a blood test that looks for the presence of FIV antibodies, and run a complete health panel, including a complete blood count, chemistry panel, and urinalysis. Your doctor will also rule out other bacterial, viral, or fungal infections as well as parasites and tumors before a final diagnosis.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for feline immunodeficiency virus. Treating and managing secondary infections in cats with FIV is critical. Wellness visits are recommended every six months.
FIV-infected cats should be spayed/neutered. These cats should be kept indoors to prevent fights with other cats that could spread the virus. Keeping cats with FIV indoors will also reduce their exposure to infections carried by other animals that may make them sick.
Discuss a dietary plan with your veterinarian. Cats with FIV should be fed nutritionally complete and balanced diets. Uncooked food (raw meat and eggs) and unpasteurized dairy products should be avoided to minimize the risk of food-borne infections.
Many FIV-positive cats can live seemingly normal lives for years. And in general, the earlier FIV is diagnosed, the better your cat’s chances of living a long and relatively healthy life.