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Wellness Exams
at the FoxNest Veterinary Hospital

A little history:  Back when most veterinarians were smarter than average farm boys like me, what we now call wellness exams, used to be called annual check ups, office visits, just plain exams, or if we were being fancy; a physical exam. 

Before the 1960's a lot of dogs were dying in high numbers from parasites and distemper. And before the success of nationwide rabies inoculations, many dogs had rabies. 

We were thrilled, as veterinarians, if we could get people to bring their dogs in once a year for a good exam, a dip for parasites, a dose of worm medicine, and vaccinations.  

Otherwise the norm was to bring a pet to the vet only if it was badly injured or very sick.  The common attitude as late as the 1970's was that if the pet couldn't "be fixed" for under $100, then euthanize it because we don't want it "to suffer".  And the threshold for cats was about $50.

As more and more people starting treating their pets as part of the family, more and more vets switched from cattle, swine, and horse practices to become pet doctors. It was exciting and interesting to perform more sophisticated medicine and surgery than was commonly done on farm animals.

Now, it's gotten to the point where farm animal vets are a tiny minority of our profession, and not only are there not many young farm boy vets these days, there aren't many boys period.  Well over 75% of new vets are bright, young women from the suburbs and cities.

I miss a lot of things about the American culture of the 60's in which I grew up ... back when men were men and so forth ... but whether or not it's due to all these young women entering our profession or due to more general major changes in our society ... there's no getting around it; the improvement in the care we now routinely offer our pets is phenomenal !

The quality of veterinary care today is light years better.  Our knowledge is better, our equipment and lab capabilities are infinitely better, our medications are much better, and most of all, the general public is now committed to taking really good, responsible, and loving care of both their cats and dog pets.  It's been a wonderful change.  

Another wonderful improvement has been in the number of people adopting stray pets from shelters and all the animal rescue work and wild life habitat work being done.

At any rate, among the many improvements in how we treat pets has been the emphasis on preventive medicine and "wellness".

It's a significant attitude change, but here's what it really means:

1.  More frequent and more in depth physical examinations regardless of whether vaccinations are needed.  Just like in human medicine.  Our goals are to have a good and close doctor and patient relationship.  To detect problems early enough to make a big difference.  To have time to discuss nutrition and arthritis and weight control and skin care and parasite control and oral hygiene.  You simply can't do any of these topics justice in a single 15 minute visit.  It takes time and it takes repetition.

And then there's the rapid aging of pets; They age about 7 times faster than humans, so having a good exam once a year would be like every 7 years for a human.

We think that bringing your pet in twice yearly physical examinations ... wellness exams ... is an ideal balance between good medical care and being practical.  It allows us to have a twice yearly deworming program, it lets us spread vaccines out (if needed), and it give us the opportunity to perform screening tests if appropriate.

We are so enthusiastic about encouraging you to bring your pet in twice yearly that we charge only $15 for the midyear wellness exam.  Plus the cost of any vaccines if they are needed, deworming, and any tests that might be appropriate.

Spotting problems, especially peridontal disease, low grade infections, glandular swellings, hormonal problems, and metabolic diseases early is what wellness programs are all about.  Our goal is to make your pet happier, healthier, and to live longer.  And early treatment is much less expensive and more likely to be successful than treating problems in their later stages.

2.  Vaccinations are still important.  At our hospital, we use the newest, most effective, and more to the point, the safest vaccines available ... including the much superior DNA Recombinant rabies and leukemia feline vaccines... and we are believers in not over vaccinating pets.
But keeping vaccinations current is still a critically important part of your pet's preventive health care.  It's also important from a public health and legal standpoint.

Kitten Vaccination Recommendations
Adult Cat Vaccination Recommendations
Puppy Vaccination Recommendations
Adult Dog Vaccination Recommendations

3.  Good Nutrition
    The diets and supplements we recommend

4.  A good parasite control program.

    Heartworm prevention for all cats and dogs

    I highly recommend the new ProHeart Injection for
    dogs that gives 6 months of protection for heartworms
    and intestinal worms.

    Deworming all pets twice yearly with a large dose
    of pyrantel or panacur

    Monthly intestinal worm control along with your
    monthly heartworm prevention

    Once a year fecal check for dogs.

5.  Blood Screening tests starting in late middle age to
    screen for diabetes, kidney disease, anemia, thyroid
    disease, and much more.  Check our our page about our
    laboratory and screening tests

6.  Chest and whole body radiographs for cats in late
    middle age to check for bladder stones, arthritis,
    tumors, and especially for the "silent killer" that is
    so common in older cats; heart enlargement.

    Chest and spinal and joint radiographs for dogs in late
    middle age.  Once again, screening for heart
    enlargement, stones, tumors, congestion, & arthritis.

Spotting problems, especially peridontal disease, low grade infections, glandular swellings, hormonal problems, and metabolic diseases early is what wellness programs are all about.  Our goal is to make your pet happier, healthier, and to live longer.  And early treatment is much less expensive and more likely to be successful than treating problems in their later stages.

Here's what we recommend for most pets:

Young Puppies & Kittens:

Examinations, deworming, appropriate testing and vaccinations at  6 weeks old, 10 weeks old, and 14 weeks old.

Start flea control and prevention

Start heartworm prevention for all pets starting at about 3 months old.

Spay or neuter between 4-6 months of age

Consider Pet Insurance
Good pet insurance is fairly expensive ($20-50 a month depending on deductible), but it's least expensive if you get it while your pet is young and healthy... and you never know when your pet might eat a rock, get hit by a car, or later in life get kidney failure or cancer.

Return for an inexpensive $15 midyear wellness exam at about 9 months of age.
In addition to checking for retained baby teeth, ear infections, growth problems and any concerns you have, for most puppies we will give booster vaccines for parvo , give a large bolus of dewormer, and check stool soon after to ensure that no parasites survived the deworming.

For most kittens we will give the same careful puberty exam and give a bolus of nicely flavored dewormer.  No vaccines are usually needed at this time.
Consider implanting a microchip... especially if your cat goes outdoors.

For Cats and Dogs during the first few, prime years of life

A good annual wellness exam along with appropriate vaccines and a large bolus of dewormer

Continued use of a monthly heartworm preventive

Flea and tick prevention and control as needed

An inexpensive midyear wellness exam and booster vaccines if needed for kennel cough and leptospirosis. And a midyear bolus of dewormer to help kill any resistant intestinal parasites

A good diet, lots of love, fun, and exercise.

The middle years of 4-7 for Cats and Dogs:

A good yearly wellness exam and vaccines if needed.

A focus on dental health, skin care, and other middle aged problems.
Switch to the 3 year rabies vaccine
A large bolus of dewormer

Continued monthly heartworm prevention

Flea and tick control and prevention as needed

An inexpensive midyear wellness exam and vaccines if needed.
A repeat large bolus of dewormer
A fecal check for dogs

Discussion with your favorite vet anytime you notice problems in your pet.

A good diet, skin care, fun, exercise, and lots of love

For older pets: 7 plus:

A good wellness exam focused on senior problems such as arthritis, heart and kidney disease.
Vaccines if needed

Continued monthly heartworm prevention

Consideration of appropriate health and comfort supplements

Flea and tick control as needed.

Dentistry as needed

Urine and Blood testing to pick up problems early.

Radiographs to pick up heart disease, kidney stones, arthritis, and cancer early.

An inexpensive midyear wellness exam, vaccine boosters if needed,  deworming, and a fecal check for dogs.

Year long care whenever needed.

A Discussion about
Annual Wellness Exams,
Midyear Wellness Exams,
and Preventive Medicine in General
What it means for you and your pet

The radiograph above is of severe hip dysplasia or arthritis.  We now have laser therapy as well as medications that can greatly improve your dog or cat's quality of life and comfort.  We encourage you to let us radiographs your pets when they get older to catch this and other problems early.  Many dogs, and especially cats are very good at hiding pain and discomfort.
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