Prevention is Part of the Solution for Care

The special bond that we have with our pets is indescribable. Their capacity for unconditional love and joy they bring has been shown to benefit our health in so many ways. Studies show that having pets increases our physical health, mental wellbeing, and so importantly nowadays can help reduce stress. Our physical health benefits range from increased physical activity, improved cardiovascular health with reduction in lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and improved immune function. The human animal bond is undeniable in the importance of mental health and well being by creating a sense of purpose, social connections and community, and in certain therapeutic settings. We see increased levels of serotonin, a neurochemical that increases happiness feelings, and reduced levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, just by interacting with our pets. So how can we help these special members of our family live longer and healthier lives? 

The preventative care approach is all about keeping your pet healthy by catching potential health issues early on before they are bigger problems. The goal of our veterinarians and veterinary care team at Riverview Animal Clinic is to prevent disease before it is a problem. The challenge with most of the pets we serve is that often disease is subtle and sometimes advanced before we even see physical symptoms. 

So what are we focusing on during these exams? And why do we ask questions regarding your pet’s lifestyle, activities, and behavior changes (or new behaviors)? 

  1. Wellness Physicals show us symmetry of joints, body condition, heart and lung function, oral health, and skin disease. It allows us to assess neurological function and any new behaviors that appear, gait changes from joint or spinal diseases, and pain which are often hard to detect since animals tend to hide pain until they can’t function properly. We can talk about weight management and nutrition since maintaining a slightly leaner body condition has been shown to increase longevity in our pets. 
  2. Routine Lab Work includes an evaluation of red and white blood cell counts, inflammation markers in the body, liver and kidney functions, infections in the urine, ears or the skin, and possible parasite infections like intestinal parasites, tick infections, and heartworm infections. A patient may “look healthy” but really have a serious condition that is not causing immediate health symptoms because the body is good at compensating for itself.
  3. Vaccinations – this is tricky I know! Occasionally some patients experience complications from vaccines but as our technology has improved the risk of that has decreased . So please don’t be afraid! Some of these diseases are easily transmitted in dog parks, public spaces, and remain active in the soil for years.The vaccines are Core Vaccines for dogs is distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and rabies. The vaccines that are Core Vaccines for felines are Feline Calicivirus, viral rhinotracheitis, panleukopenia, and rabies. The Kennel Cough, influenza, leptospirosis vaccines for dogs and the feline leukemia vaccine for cats are not considered “core” but are selected based on lifestyle and risk of exposure. Our veterinary technicians and assistants do spend some time with you to review the risk assessment for each pet. So use this time to tell us what your pets do! And the population that they come into contact with! We still have yearly cases of Rabies in Alabama so that is a public health concern even in this day and age. 
  4. Dental Care – Dental Health is super important to our health as we know. It is very important to our pet’s wellbeing too! Rabbits can have overgrown, painful teeth. Birds can have overgrown beaks. Dogs and cats can have chronic periodontal disease that can result in inflammation and infection of the bones of the mouth and jaw. Bad breath is a symptom of oral health issues just like us! Sometimes, it’s as simple as just needing to brush, use a mouthwash, or a enzymatic chew to help decrease the bacterial response in the oral cavity, Sometimes it’s more complicated and requires a dental procedure with X-rays and specialized procedures like extractions, tooth bonding, and periodontal care. 
  5. Parasite control – I know that sometimes this seems automatic for the veterinary care team to ask if your pet is on these products routinely so it might seem like we are trying to “sell” something. However, the reality is that we are trying to help improve human health as well. Decreasing the amount of fleas and ticks that our pets carry can directly impact our health as the potential for disease like Lyme disease, typhoid fever, cat scratch fever, and bubonic plague (yes like the historic  plague- there are still pockets that pop up out west due to flea bites). Roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms can cause diseases to people when pets who are passing these eggs spread the infestation unknowingly to soil or sand resulting in contact through skin or ingestion by humans. Believe me- humans used to get Heartworm disease before effective mosquito control was introduced! This is an easily transmitted but preventable disease in our pets. 

That’s a lot of things to cover in such a short period of time during an exam! It is the reason why we send forms to our clients before exams and reminders for routine well check ups. We want your experience with Riverview Animal Clinic to be interactive, informative, and actionable during your time in the clinic. Our staff considers you an integral partner in the care of your pet and these visits are super important to us. By working together, we can do our best to ensure that your pet stays as healthy as possible for as long as possible! It is like the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

All of us at Riverview Animal Clinic look forward to caring for your pet and in turn you and your family! 

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