Regular vaccinations and examinations will help keep your pet healthy and happy. Most pets need either annual or every six-month visits. This is because of pets age an average of 7 times faster than humans and so by the time they reach around 7 years old they are considered middle-aged or geriatric depending on the breed. Typical components of a wellness examination include:
- Checking the central nervous center
- Checking and cleaning the ears, treating if required
- Checking joints and mobility
- Checking skin and condition of coat
- Checking urinary and reproductive systems
- Dental examination
- Eye examination
- Listen to the heart
- Listen to the lungs
- Observation of alertness and response
- Palpate the abdomen checking for painful areas and/or growths or tumors
- Physical examination of the rest of the body for unusual lumps
- Weight check
Other tests that your pet may be given include:
- Heartworm testing (otherwise known as blood parasite screening)
- Fecal testing. This allows the veterinarian to check for the presence of internal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms.
- Blood work. Blood tests screen for infection or disease that may not otherwise be detected through a physical examination. Blood work also allows a veterinarian a comprehensive assessment of your pets’ health.
When to vaccinate?
Puppies and kittens are usually protected from infectious diseases by their mother’s milk provided she has been adequately vaccinated. However, this protection only lasts for a short while.
- Puppies and kittens should be vaccinated starting around 6 weeks old, every 3 weeks until they are at least 16 weeks old
- Boosters should be given 6 or 12 months after the date of the first vaccinations depending on the vaccine
- If you have an older pet then your veterinarian will be able to advise the correct vaccination protocol that you should follow.
Dogs should be routinely vaccinated against:
- Canine distemper
- Canine parvovirus
- Infectious canine hepatitis
If your dog is going to spending time in kennels, groomed or have play dates with other dogs, then you should also enquire about getting them vaccinated against “kennel cough.” The vaccine protects against bordetellabronchiseptica which is one strain of “kennel cough”, but this cough can also be caused by several other viruses and bacteria that there are no vaccines for.
Cats should be routinely vaccinated against:
- Feline calicivirus
- Feline herpes virus
- Feline infectious enteritis
Current guidelines recommend that only ‘at risk’ cats are vaccinated against feline leukemia virus. Those deemed at risk include kittens, immune-compromised cats, and cats which will be allowed outdoors.