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Preventive Care for Dogs

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Preventive care is an essential part of keeping your dog happy and healthy. It will give you peace of mind and increase the odds of detecting underlying health conditions before they become advanced and expensive.

How often should my dog see a veterinarian?

At Burlington Veterinary Hospital, we make our preventive care recommendations using the guidelines established by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). From there, our veterinarians further customize their suggestions based on hereditary factors including your dog’s age, lifestyle, and medical history.

Typically, we suggest scheduling at least one annual exam during which one of our veterinarians will review your dog’s medical history, assess their behavior, make dietary recommendations, and evaluate any known health conditions they may have. 

What should I expect from a preventive dog care exam?

Listen to your pet's heart – Early signs of cardiac disease such as heart murmurs and abnormal heartbeat patterns known as arrhythmias can be heard through a stethoscope. Discovering these initial indicators of trouble ahead can lead to identifying and treating the underlying condition before it becomes a more serious health threat.

Listen to your pet's lungs – Health issues such as infections, obstructive diseases and other respiratory problems can be detected by listening to your pet's lungs.

Check your pet's teeth and oral cavity – Examining your pet's mouth and teeth is an important part of your pet's wellness exam. Gingivitis, if left untreated, can lead to loss of teeth and a more severe problem called periodontal disease. Very young animals, such as kittens and puppies, also need to be checked to ensure they are developing an appropriate bite and that they are losing their baby teeth at the right time. We also take the time to discuss proper home dental care with you.

Evaluate your pet's vision – Many diseases if found early can be easily treated. Conditions such as glaucoma can be prevented through regular care and screenings.

Look into your pet's ears – As with dental disease, ear disease is relatively common in many types of pets. Issues such as allergies, reactions to certain foods, mites, fleas and other parasites can all cause and contribute to otitis or ear disease. Though you may feel this is an area that can be well-handled at home, the fact is that many ear diseases are difficult to detect and require medical attentiont.

Palpate your pet's lymph nodes, abdomen and skin – We look for unusual lumps or swellings as well as skin discolorations, lesions or patterns of hair loss or thinning. Certain abnormalities indicate the presence of more systemic problems, especially metabolic diseases, which most commonly occur in middle-aged animals.

Palpate the joints and muscles – We evaluate your pet for swollen and painful joints, decreased muscle tone and variations in muscle size between the legs. We also observe your pet's gait for developmental issues. In puppies, we look for early indications of hip or elbow problems. For older pets, we look for signs of arthritis, which can be well treated if found early.

Request additional laboratory tests – A complete physical examination includes a heartworm test, fecal flotation test for intestinal parasites, and a red blood cell count as anemia (decrease in the number of red blood cells) can indicate the presence of a number of disease processes. For senior pets, we strongly recommend a complete blood cell count and a chemistry profile in order to create a baseline of systemic health and to detect any emergent disease processes.

Regular Blood Testing

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

Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks can cause more than simple discomfort. They can carry serious diseases. Ticks of course are the main carriers of Lyme disease. Fleas carry tapeworm.

Fleas are found on your pet during warm weather; however, if left untreated, they can be a nuisance year-round. Ticks tend to thrive in wooded areas or in high grass. It's often difficult to keep your pets away from tick infested areas, so if they do go exploring, check them when they come inside.

There are several medications we can recommend to make sure your pet is protected from these pests. Please ask a staff member for the medication that is best for your pet. Prevention is key!

We also recommend complete blood testing annually for all pets over the age of seven.

To schedule your dog’s annual exam, call us at (781) 270-0044 or request an dog exam appointment online.

Dog Veterinarian

Burlington Veterinary Hospital