Preventive Health Care
There are many aspects of your pet’s health and well-being. A loving home, good nutrition and proper veterinary care are essential. The Alexandria Veterinary Clinic PetCare Center doctors and staff are committed to preventing animal disease and providing you with the most up-to-date information on caring for your special pet. Preventive care starts with helping you select a healthy pet. Our staff has been exposed to many breeds and types of pets. We would be happy to help you select a breed that will fit your lifestyl, whether you are adopting or bringing home a new puppy or kitten.
Preventive health care is based on protecting your pet against disease and detecting possible risks for your pet. If you have a young puppy or kitten we will design a health plan to help your pet achieve optimum health. Preventing disease in pets is based on a physical exam. Common sections of your pet’s exam include:
Our veterinarians will ask you questions about the health history of your pet. This will be included in your pet's medical record. Your pets temperature, pulse, respiration rate and body weight are all critical parts of your pets physical exam.
Heart and Lungs
Your veterinarian will use a stethoscope to listen to your pet's heart and lungs. Early heart disease is often recognized during physical exams. Excercise intolerance and coughing can be signs of heart and lung disease.
Many conditions such as anemia, infections, and jaundice, often are discovered through eye examinations. Genetic problems such as entropions (rolling in of the eyelids), ectropions (rolling out of the eyelids) and distichia (extra eyelid hair) can cause permanent damage to eyes. Corneal ulcers and foreign bodies such as seeds cause severe pain and need to be treated promptly. Examinations of the inner structures of the eyes can also help detect signs of systemic disease.
Pets who shake their heads, scratch their ears, or seem smelly can be showing signs of an ear infection. Our veterinarians will use an otoscope or in some cases the Med-Rx imaging otoscope to make a visual check of your pet’s ear canals. Inflammation, infection, tumors, and ear mites are all diagnosed by a thorough ear exam.
Our veterinarians will check your pet’s nose for abnormal discharges as well as changes in color, texture, moisture or shape.
Teeth and Mouth
Oral hygiene is extremely important in pets. We know we can extend your pets life by 2 to 5 years if we keep their mouth healthy. Regular dental exams along with tooth brushing, proper diet and dental chews can greatly affect your pet’s oral health. Your veterinarian will check your pet’s gums, teeth, tongue, and palate for abnormalities. Click here to visit our Dentistry page.
Heartworm disease is a serious but preventable condition transmitted by mosquitoes. Each year your pet should be tested for heartworm disease. This is done by a simple blood test using the SNAP 4dx test which tests for not only Heartworm disease, but also three other very common tick born diseases. These include lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis. To protect your canine from the dangers of Heartworm disease, your pet should be placed on a Heartworm preventative yearly. For more information, feel free to call us or visit the American Heartworm Society's homepage.
Skin and Coat
The skin is the body’s largest organ and a good indicator of your pet’s health. Your veterinarian will examine the coat and skin condition to detect other health problems. Itchy skin can be a sign of allergies or external parasites. A thorough physical can help your pet feel their best. Your pet will also be checked for fleas, ticks, other external parasites, tumors and wounds.
If your pet is not spayed or neutered your veterinarian will discuss these options with you. This will help control pet overpopulation and unwanted pregnancies. If you are interested in raising litters we can help you with proper breeding timing, nutrition and whelping assistance if needed. The Doctors at the Alexandria Veterinary Clinic PetCare Center are also trained in artificial insemination techniques.
Vaccinating your pet against disease is one of the best tools for preventing disease. See the article on vaccinations for our companion animal friends.
A zoonotic disease is any disease that can be transmitted to people from animals. There are some people that are more susceptible to zoonotic diseases because they are immunocompromised: pregnant, very young and very old, chornic illnesses or cancer and AIDS/HIV. These individuals must be extra-vigilant when it comes to pet care. Because of the risk to you and your family, your pet needs to be on a parasite prevention program year-round, which includes 1-2 yearly intestinal parasite screens to check for parasites. Some of the common zoonotic items that could be encountered through fecal contamination include: round/hookworms, tapeworms, giardia, cryptosporidium and toxoplasmosis. For more information feel free to call us or visit the CDC website.
Regular screening tests are essential to keep your pet healthy and happy! Examples of these tests include the SNAP 4dx test (tests for heartworm, lymes disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis in canines) Feline leukemia/FIV, and internal parasite screenings.
As animals age, unseen changes can be taking place within their bodies that can not be seen during a regular physical exam. Our veterinarians highly recommend doing routine wellness bloodwork to check that your pets internal organs are healthy and working properly.