Wellness Care

Dr. Otka gives an examWellness Care for Your Pet

Prevention is the key to your pet's long term health. Dr. Christopher Otka and the medical staff at Noank-Mystic Veterinary Hospital recommend that your pet receives a complete wellness examination at least once a year, but more frequent exams are encouraged. During wellness exams, we perform a complete physical and recommend a heartworm test, fecal flotation test for intestinal parasites, and a red blood cell count to detect anemia (decrease in the number of red blood cells) that can indicate the presence of a number of disease processes. To keep your pet parasite free, we also recommend preventive medication for heartworms, fleas and ticks. Our preventive approach allows us to detect potential medical issues before they become serious health concerns and expensive to treat.

Regular examinations are our chance to assess your pet's overall health, discuss any changes we see, educate and update you on advancements in veterinary care, and for you to discuss any concerns or questions you may have. Wellness exams are especially important for senior pets, animals over seven years of age. They provide us with a general picture of your pet's overall health and are invaluable in diagnosing and treating your companion.

During your pet's annual wellness exam we:

  • Examine teeth, throat, and oral cavity
  • Check 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
  • Test your pet's reflexes
  • Palpate lymph nodes and abdomen
  • Inspect the skin
  • Palpate joints and muscles for arthritis and other orthopedic conditions
  • Test to evaluate the function of internal organs, blood, and other systems

Deworming and Fecal Check: Dangerous parasites are always present in the environment. If brought into your home, these parasites can be passed from your pet to you and your family. Regular fecal checks and deworming are the best way to prevent parasitic disease and the transmission of intestinal parasites to your pet. It also prevents the shedding of parasite eggs, which can contaminate lawns or any place a pet defecates.

Regular Blood Work: A complete physical includes a heartworm test, parasite screening, and should include a full blood workup. Not only can a chemistry panel and complete blood count (CBC) identify the presence of underlying disease processes, but these tests help create a baseline should your pet become ill. Additionally, blood work is necessary if a dental cleaning, removal of a skin mass, or any other procedure that requires anesthesia is recommended.

At home, watch for subtle changes in your pet's body weight, appetite, water intake, urination and bowel habits, as well as general attitude and activity level. These changes may be signs of medical problems. Lumps and bumps under the skin may seem harmless, but can be cancerous. Ear infections, abscessed teeth and gum disease are common, painful conditions that may not become obvious until seriously advanced. A comprehensive physical exam is the tool to evaluate your dog's, cat's or other pet's health status and to help you make informed decisions about the care of your special companion.

Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks are virtually everywhere. Although they're a bigger problem in certain parts of the country and at specific times during the year, no cat or dog is completely safe from them. Fortunately, many safe and highly effective products are available. Today, there's no reason for any pet or owner to be bothered by these pests.

Fleas are so common because they are reproductive marvels. A single female flea can lay as many as 30 eggs a day and can live and breed on your pet for up to 100 days. The eggs then fall and land in carpets and upholstery where they can lie dormant for up to 8 months. The best management techniques of flea-proofing your home include regularly vacuuming carpets, furniture, floors and areas where your pet sits or sleeps. You should also wash your pet's bedding, toys, and towels weekly.

Beyond causing serious discomfort, fleas and ticks can carry diseases dangerous to both you and your pet. Fleas can carry tapeworm, which your pet can contract. If a pet is allergic, a flea bite can cause an intense reaction. Ticks can transmit serious diseases such as Lyme disease, which can affect both your family and your pet.

There are numerous signs that indicate your pet may have fleas. Scratching may be a sign of fleas. Redness or oozing lesions on the skin can be signs of flea allergy dermatitis. Tiny black dots on your pet might be an indication of flea dirt, or flea feces, an obvious indication that there are fleas present on the pet. Even small bites on yourself, especially around the ankles, might be due to fleas.

The good news is that these problems can be avoided by using parasite preventive products that are available at our hospital. Ask a veterinarian or staff member at Noank-Mystic Veterinary Hospital for which flea or tick product is best-suited for your pet.

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm is a serious, life-threatening disease of dogs and cats. Mosquitoes spread the disease by injecting the parasite into your pet at the time of the bite. After the infected female mosquito bites your pet, the heartworm migrates through the bloodstream and moves to the heart and adjacent blood vessels, maturing to adults within 6-7 months in dogs and 8 months in cats. As many as 30 species of mosquitoes can transmit heartworms.

Heartworm disease is due to the presence of a parasite, Dirofilaria immitis, in the pulmonary arteries and right ventricle of the heart. Heartworm affects many organs, particularly the heart and lungs. Symptoms of heartworm include coughing, fatigue, and weight loss.

Until the early 1970s, the occurrence of heartworm in the United States was primarily confined to the southeastern part of the country. Today, heartworm disease is found almost everywhere in the continental United States and is particularly abundant in the northeast.

Clinical symptoms of heartworm disease develop very slowly. Often symptoms are not noticeable until several years after the initial infection. Lack of energy and exercise intolerance are early symptoms. Coughing and difficulty breathing are both common symptoms. As the disease progresses, most dogs develop congestive heart failure. Dogs often collapse in the final stage of the disease. In cats, the symptoms of heartworm disease are similar to those of feline asthma. Some cats may exhibit no signs of the disease, while others may suddenly die.

Since heartworm is a serious and deadly disease, pets should be tested annually. In order to perform the test, a small amount of blood needs to be taken. The test for heartworm is very accurate and is a reliable method for diagnosing the disease.

Heartworm prevention is simple. Once-a-month heartworm preventive medication can be administered through chewable treats. Some are combined with other preventive medications. The medical staff at Noank-Mystic Veterinary Hospital can recommend the product that is best suited for your pet.

If you would like to have your pet tested for heartworm or if you would like additional information about the disease, please call Noank-Mystic Veterinary Hospital.

Senior Pet CareSenior Pet Care

We have a geriatric package designed for animals seven years or older. This suite of services includes exam and blood work. (Only applies to wellness visits, cannot be used for sick visits.)

Appropriate senior care is essential because senior pets go through a gradual reduction of their physical capabilities. This process can be slowed and managed through proper veterinary care.

Taking a moment to learn more about the special needs of your senior pet is the first step toward providing the best care for your companion in its later years. At Noank-Mystic Veterinary Hospital, we're proud of the special interest we take in geriatric medicine and care of chronic disease.

There is also an important role for you to play as your pet's primary caregiver. You can influence your pet's activity level, living conditions, access to quality senior veterinary care, and daily nutrition. With our help, you can manage these factors in order to prolong your pet's good health, vitality and increase wellbeing even as your pet's pace slows a bit.

The best time to begin your pet's senior care program and recognize the need for a little extra TLC is before age-related conditions begin to set in. Regular senior wellness exams and dental care are important. We recommend routine dental exams and cleanings for all pets, but especially those in their senior years.

Diet and weight gain are important issues. When you bring your pet in for a senior wellness visit, we evaluate his or her weight and offer recommendations based on what we find.

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