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Dog Yearly Preventative Health Care
Preventative Wellness Physical Examination & Consultation: Preventative Wellness Physical Examination & Consultation by a Veterinarian should begin before birth, with the prenatal care of the mother. Upon birth, all puppies need to have physical exams on a weekly basis to ensure proper growth and development until 6 weeks of age, and to answer all your questions regarding infant nurturing. Starting at 6 weeks of age, puppies should be physically examined by a Veterinarian monthly to ensure proper development, detect any growth deformities, and to answer all your concerns, until they reach 1-year of age. Starting at 1-year of age, all adult dogs should have a Preventative Wellness Physical Examination & Consultation with a Veterinarian at least once a year to ensure they maintain a good patient-doctor relationship, and so that the Veterinarian can address all your dog’s wellness and preventative care needs in a timely manner. Mature adult dogs who are 7-years old or older should have Preventative Wellness Physical Exams & Consultations at minimum of twice a year, because illnesses and diseases in older dogs occur faster and with much more severity than in younger dogs.
Exams and Consultations done for the purpose of diagnosing an illness do not replace or remove the necessity of at least one Preventative Wellness Physical Examination & Consultation a year for the life of your dog, as there are different purposes, discussions, and outcomes between a sick-patient visit and a well-patient visit.
Vaccination: First time vaccination is recommended for all dogs at 6 weeks to 8 weeks of age. Puppies will require booster vaccination at 12 weeks, 16 weeks, and 20 weeks of age to acquire full immunity to the most fatal of canine diseases. Once a puppy has completed the entire vaccine booster series and has reached 1-year of age, adult dogs require vaccination bi-annually, annually, or every three years depending upon the assessment of your adult dog’s risk of exposure to these canine diseases. Failure to vaccinate your dog in accordance with their lifestyle exposure increases their risk of becoming infected with these very communicable diseases. Annual Preventative Wellness Physical Examination & Consultation is required to receive any vaccinations to ensure the vaccines are administered in accordance with your dog’s lifestyle risk.
Heartworm Screening Tests: Heartworm Disease is a parasitic worm transmitted by mosquito bite, and infects the heart, veins, and arteries of dogs. Puppies should be started on a heartworm preventative medication as young as 9 weeks of age, and given a heartworm preventative medication year round for the rest of their life. Heartworm preventative medication dosage is determined by weight, so as a puppy grows, they will require frequent weigh-ins at the animal hospital to make sure they are receiving the proper dose of medication. All dogs 6-months of age or older require annual Heartworm Screening Tests to ensure that the heartworm preventative medication is providing them with full protection. Failure to give a heartworm preventative medication all year round increases a dog’s risk of exposure to Heartworm Disease. Annual Preventative Wellness Physical Exam & Consultation, and annual Heartworm Screening Tests are required to renew all prescriptions of heartworm preventative medication.
Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis Screening Tests: Included with Yearly Heartworm Screening is screening for three major diseases transmitted by the bite of ticks. Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichiosis are sometimes considered “silent infections” because symptoms of these diseases do not typically show physically until well into advance stages. By screening for these disease on a yearly basis, we can ensure that your dog receives treatment for them before they become debilitating. Using a Flea & Tick Preventative medication all year around for the life of your dog will also ensure that a tick does not get the opportunity to bite your dog and transmit these diseases.
Fecal Analysis: Various parasitic worms and bacteria live in the intestines of dogs, and are transmissible to people. Puppies should have a Fecal Analysis done on a monthly basis starting at 6 weeks of age until at least 1 year of age, and receive prophylaxis de-worming at 6 weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks, and 20 weeks of age. Fecal Analysis also screens for parasites not treated by prophylaxis de-worming, and allows us the ability to prescribe appropriate medication to treat additional parasites. Adult dogs on a heartworm preventative medication year round are also protected against a variety of parasitic intestinal worms, and require an annual Fecal Analysis to make sure the preventative medication is providing full protection. Annual Fecal Analysis also screens for parasites not prevented by a heartworm preventative medication. Failure to detect a parasitic intestinal infection in your dog in a timely manner exposes your family to the possibility of getting parasitic intestinal infections themselves.
Flea, Mosquito, & Tick Prevention: These parasites transmit to dogs a plethora of diseases, so preventing them from even biting your dog is paramount to their wellness. A high-quality flea, mosquito, and tick preventative medication should be given to your dog all year round, for their entire life, starting at the youngest age as stated as safe on the package. Flea, mosquito, and tick preventative medication dosage is determined by weight, so as a puppy grows, they will require frequent weigh-ins at the animal hospital to make sure they are receiving the proper dose of medication to provide full protection. Failure to give a flea, mosquito, and tick preventative medication all year round increases a dog’s risk of becoming infected with diseases passed through the bite of fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks. Not using a flea, mosquito, & tick preventative medication on your dog also increases the likelihood that your home will also become a home for fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks, since these parasites are active all year, and thrive in very well during the winter inside our heated houses.
Dental Health: Puppies are born with no teeth, and then develop their baby teeth beginning at 3 weeks to 4 weeks of age. These baby teeth can be very sharp, so it is not recommended to teach your puppy to play bite, or to allow them to nip at hands and feet. A puppy’s baby teeth begin to fall out around 3 months to 4 months of age to be replaced with the adult teeth they will have for their lifetime. It is recommended that you begin to get your puppy used to daily teeth brushing the moment they develop teeth, and maintain the habit at least once a day, every day, for the rest of your dog’s life. There is a variety of different styles of toothbrushes, so you are sure to find one that is comfortable for you and your dog. Never use human toothpaste, as it contains fluoride, which is toxic to dogs, and your Veterinarian can recommend a dog specific toothpaste that would be more agreeable in safety and flavor. Annual Preventative Wellness Physical Examinations & Consultations include the assessment of your dog’s mouth and teeth, and depending upon the degree of tarter build-up and plaque, the Veterinarian may recommend prophylaxis teeth cleaning and polishing. Providing your dog with regular dental care will go a long way towards reducing their risks of serious gum disease or teeth falling out, as well as keep their breath fresh. Provide plenty of chewable toys for your dog to chew on, these also clean teeth. Tennis balls have been discovered to wear down teeth, and should be avoided as chew toys.
Nutrition: Proper nutrition of dogs starts with the milk of their mother, or a dog specific milk replacement infant diet. Once a puppy is weaned from an infant diet at approximately 4 weeks to 6 weeks of age, they require feeding of a high quality diet specifically formulated for puppies. Some puppies will require more frequent feeding than others, or require access to food 24 hours a day to prevent low blood sugar. Large and giant breed puppies that grow big rapidly should be on a puppy specific diet specially formulated for large and giant breed dogs. Puppies should be fed this puppy specific diet until they are at least 6 months in small breeds to 18 months of age in the case of large or giant breeds. At 6 to 18 months of age, puppies should be gradually switched over to an adult specific diet under the supervision of your Veterinarian. Mature adult dogs 7-years old or older should be switched over to a senior specific diet to meet their changing nutritional needs. Clean, fresh water should be provided to all dogs all the time. Annual Preventative Wellness Physical Examination & Consultation allows us the opportunity to discuss with you your dog’s particular nutritional requirements to ensure they are getting the best diet to keep them in good heath.
Grooming: Whether you take your dog to a professional, or do it yourself, all dogs, and all types of breeds, benefit from regular grooming. Minimum grooming requirements of a dog consists of brushing out their fur, shaving mats, bathing, clipping their nails, brushing their teeth, cleaning inside their ears, and expressing their anal glands. The frequency necessary of doing the above depends upon your dog’s breed, the type of fur they have, and their individual predilection for getting dirty. Instilling good grooming manners in your dog should begin at the youngest age possible, and Puppy Kindergarten or other training classes can show you how. The Veterinarian may be able to show you how to perform some of the tasks above yourself, provided your dog is cooperative and allows you to do so. Grooming accidents at home are common, so please use caution when using scissors or clippers on your pet.
Behavior: The optimal age to begin behavior modification and training with your puppy is 6 weeks to 8 weeks old. The first step is enrolling in a Puppy Kindergarten, a group style training class that allows puppies to socialize with a wide variety of people and other dogs, provides you with a foundation in the techniques used in behavior modification, and begins the process of teaching your puppy good dog manners. One of the goals of our Veterinarian during an annual Preventative Wellness Physical Examination & Consultation is to discuss with you your relationship with your dog, and problem behaviors of your dog that are causing both of you to experience a decrease in the quality of your companionship. After such a consultation, your Veterinarian can make recommendation as to the type of behavior modification that will benefit both of you, and increase your quality of companionship.
Laser Surgery Spaying or Neutering: Between 6 and 8 months old, your puppy will visit with us for a Pre-Surgical Consultation with the Veterinarian. The Veterinarian will do a comprehensive physical exam, pre-anesthesia blood work, provide that all vaccinations are current, and make sure that any medical conditions your puppy may have are resolved or will not be adversely affected by the laser surgery procedure. This is your opportunity to discuss with the Veterinarian any concerns you have regarding your puppy’s laser surgery, to tour where your puppy will stay, and meet those who will be attending to them. In keeping with our pledge to provide for your puppy the same as we would expect for our own dogs, Pre-Surgical Consultations are considered above and beyond the necessary minimum standard of surgical care by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Canine Spaying: The medical name of a “spay” procedure is called an ovariohysterectomy, and involves the removal of the ovaries and uterus from the abdominal cavity. Spaying your female puppy not only prevents pregnancy, but also reduces her risk of getting ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, breast cancer, or an infection of the uterus called pyometra later in life. Spaying your female puppy also eliminates their estrus cycle, commonly known as being in heat, thus reducing the roaming, and restlessness associated with attracting a mate, and eliminating the bleeding that occurs during a female dog’s estrus.
Canine Neutering: The medical name of a “neuter” procedure is an orchiectomy, and involves the removal of the testes through an incision in the abdomen. Neutering your male dog not only prevents him from fathering puppies, but reduces his risk of getting prostate or testicular cancer later in life. Neutering your male dog may also reduce behaviors such as urine marking, roaming, and fighting with other dogs over territory and access to mates.
Limiting anesthesia exposure is one of our goals towards providing a lifetime of wellness to your companions, so our patients only experience the anesthesia that is necessary for procedures that enhance their wellness and reduce lifestyle risks. We make it our priority to see to it your dog has a licensed professional Veterinary Team always by their side during their laser surgery procedure. Follow-up examination and post-surgical care is very important to us.
Pain Management In Senior Canines: The older a dog gets, the more likely they are to experience chronic, painful conditions such as arthritis or spondylosis (degeneration of the spinal disks, causing spinal column compression). These conditions cause many dogs to suffer pain on a daily basis, restricting their abilities to go outside, get around comfortably, eat and drink, or even just move to the places they like most. Unfortunately, these conditions can be very difficulty to treat in dogs because of age related declines in organ function. Suffolk Veterinary Group is proud to offer our senior dogs a pain management that does not require any form of medication. Therapy Laser treatments have shown to be the most effective pain management option available to dogs in that it does not require any medications that could affect a senior dog's liver or kidneys, and can be used even if a senior dog has early renal or liver disease. A Comprehensive Physical Examination is necessary to determine what laser therapy pain management protocols will best benefit your dog.
Financial Planning: Planning for emergencies can save your family the heartache of unanticipated expenses. We encourage all our dog parents to enroll in a Pet Insurance program that incorporates not only reimbursement for wellness care, but emergency situations as well. CareCredit can spread out veterinary cost through interest free payment plans. Applying for CareCredit is done online at www.CareCredit.com.
We hope this information helps answers your question regarding what your dog will need to ensure they experience a lifetime of wellness with you. Call 631-696-2400 with any questions you have regarding your dog's health and wellness at the Suffolk Veterinary Group Animal Wellness & Laser Surgery Center.
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I want to thank Dr. Winkler and his staff. They are the most compassionate animal care center ever. And when we recently had to put our kitty down, no where else will you receive the compassion they show. God bless them for their kindness and caring hearts.