Have you ever wondered why your dog or cat needs to visit the vet every year? At West Park Animal Hospital, we believe that every pet owner deserves to be educated about the health of their family member and each yearly visit provides us an opportunity to help your pet live the longest healthiest life possible. While we certainly believe vaccines are important, it is the physical exam that can have biggest impact on long term health.
Even if your pet looks perfectly healthy, illness and disease could be lurking undetected. It’s during these annual examinations that we can look out for early signs of disease.
Some of the specific things our veterinarians will be looking for during the exam are:
- Changes to the eyes such as cataracts, inflammation or pressure increase that may be impairing vision.
- Discharge, pain or swelling of the ears and ear canals
- A thorough oral exam to ensure your pet’s gums and teeth are healthy
- Auscultation or listening to the heart and lungs to catch early signs of heart or respiratory disease
- Gentle palpation or feeling of the abdomen to search for changes in size, shape or texture of a few of the internal organs. These changes may be our very first clue to an underlying disease.
- Observation of your pet’s ability to walk and any changes to their muscles, joints or skeleton such as swelling that may be a source of pain.
- Assessment of your pet’s balance, reflexes, mentation or other changes associated with the neurologic tract.
- A thorough evaluation of the skin for any redness, itchiness, external parasites or new growths that we may need to take a closer look at.
- Feeling lymph nodes or important veins and arteries near your pet’s neck, legs and chest.
- Examination of parts of the reproductive, digestive and urinary systems.
Vaccinating your pet is the simplest and most effective way to keep many contagious and devastating diseases at bay. This is vital even if your cat or dog is mainly an indoor pet. We understand that your pet is unique and that no single vaccine protocol will be ideal for all pets in all situations.
At West Park Animal Hospital, we’ll work with you to customize a vaccination and booster schedule that’s designed specifically for your pet. At our wellness appointments, we’ll also be able to discuss other important parts of keeping your pet healthy, such as heartworm testing, and flea and tick medications that are tailored to your family member’s individual needs.
As your pet ages, there are other tests, like bloodwork and urine tests, that may be important in helping us catch early signs of disease. Just like their human counterparts, our pet’s change dramatically during their life time. Depending on your pet’s life stage, their individual needs may also change. This is most true in our very young and very old or geriatric patients. For example, young, developing dogs and cats are more susceptible to infectious diseases while their immune system is still maturing. Geriatric or senior pets may be at a greater risk of developing aging changes such as arthritis or cataracts.
You can find more information about the specific needs of juvenile and geriatric pets on our pages below.
Many vaccines are available for dogs and cats, but not every pet needs every available vaccine. Core vaccines are those that are considered essential for every pet. Non-core pet vaccinations are not essential but may be recommended based on your pet’s lifestyle and risk of exposure to certain diseases.
Recommended Core Vaccines for Dogs:
- Rabies: The rabies virus can be fatal, and mammals are susceptible to infection. Most states require that dogs receive regular rabies vaccinations.
- DAPP: Commonly called the “distemper shot,” this is a combination vaccine that provides protection against distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza and parvovirus.
Recommended Core Vaccines for Cats:
- Rabies: Many pet owners think this vaccine is only important for outdoor cats, but we recommend for indoor cats as well
- FVRCP: This is a combination vaccine that protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia (sometimes called “feline distemper”)
Additional, non-core pet vaccinations may also be recommended, depending on your pet’s lifestyle. For example, if your dog visits dog parks, swims/wades in lakes and ponds or lives an area frequented wildlife you may want to consider the leptospirosis vaccine. If your cat will be spending time outdoors or in a screened lanai, they should be vaccinated against feline leukemia. Some other non-core vaccines include Bordetella for kennel cough, influenza and Lyme vaccines.
Call us to discuss your pet’s vaccination needs:
We understand that your pet is unique and that no single vaccine protocol will be ideal for all pets in all situations. At West Park Animal Hospital, our goal is to work with you to develop a vaccination schedule and ongoing booster routine that takes into account your pet’s lifestyle, overall health, and risk for exposure to infectious diseases. Vaccines help pets live longer, healthier lives, and protecting your pet is our priority. Call or text us today at (813) 749-6863 to set up an appointment to discuss your pet’s vaccination needs.