Preventative Care

faye

Don't expect any kisses after a trip to the vet! But as Walker likes to say, "you're always a treat away from forgiveness."

 

Nutrition:

An interesting tenet of the traditional Chinese medical model is that food is medicine. This is a more holistic view, generally, and recognizes that healthful properties (energetic) of foods exist and go beyond just protein/ carbohydrate/fat ratios (although important).  A well-thought out diet takes into account the natural history of the breed and the individual animal’s particular constitution. Unfortunately, these other properties of food are often altered by the manner in which food is commercially prepared, a fact that is simply not considered most of the time. The upshot of this situation is that because we do not cook for our pets (as we do for ourselves), we may be feeding our pets sub-optimally, inadvertently. Of course the reason this has come to be, is that none of us have any time to prepare food for our pets and rarely time to cook for ourselves, not to mention the chore of properly balancing these diets!

The compromise is to select the best, affordable diets and offer some supplementary foods, with all due attention to avoiding doing this as you eat, in order to avoid begging behavior.  High quality canned food is often a better choice than dry.  Dry diets can be supplemented with canned food, canned fish (wild-caught salmon) or a selection of crock-potted meats/root vegetables/ greens and spices/herbs.  We can provide advice in this area, if you are interested.

You will note that many foods displayed in the clinic are directed at specific medical conditions.  These diets have similar limitations, however, they are useful and convenient, so as a practical matter, we often recommend them as part of an overall treatment plan.  Further notes on nutrition are included in the feline and canine sections of the site.

petie and theo

Heartworm Prevention:

It is rational and appropriate that all dogs and cats living in the SE USA be on year-round heartworm prevention.  Many of these preventatives also provide control of the most common intestinal worms (other than tape worms) that afflict dogs and cats.  Please see the Products section under the Services link for a discussion of these various heartworm preventatives.

Vaccinating Your Pet and the Importance of Physical Exams:

Cross Creek Animal Clinic is dedicated to using the safest, most effective vaccine products and strategies to give your pet immunity from disease, while minimizing side effects.  These products are discussed in more detail in the cat and dog individual sections of this website.

We humans, see our doctors at least annually for a physical exam and pertinent blood tests, however, unless we are traveling, we receive vaccines only periodically.  For example we normally get a tetanus shot once every ten years.

Our pets are often seen by their veterinarians for an annual physical exam, as well. Indeed, the most important contribution your veterinarian can make to the duration and quality of your pet’s life is doing regular physical examinations.  An annual exam is equivalent to our seeing a doctor every 5 to 7 years.  If your pets are examined every six months, as is becoming the trend, then this would equate to a human seeing the doctor for a check-up only every 2.5 to 3.5 years. You would have to agree that even exams at 6 month intervals involve a rather long interim, when expressed in these terms.  Indeed our pets do age faster than us, regrettably.  As a side note, in the state of Florida the doctor/patient client relationship has to be renewed via a physical exam of your pet, at least annually, in order to be able to prescribe medicines and preventatives for your pet.

Not all physical exams are stressful! Some dogs may even find them relaxing...

 

A once yearly physical exam for your pet should be regarded as the rock-bottom minimum interval in view of this aging differential. It has been the tradition in the profession to give a comprehensive set of vaccines at each yearly exam.  In the past few years, it has been shown that for specific diseases, this vaccination interval can be stretched out after basic vaccination groundwork has been laid out.  For dogs, then, it becomes possible to do the Distemper, Parvo and Rabies vaccinations, separately or collectively at every third yearly physical exam.  The Leptospirosis vaccine remains yearly with the physical, while the Bordetella vaccine is once yearly for the intranasal and once yearly for the injectable, alternating each every 6 months, with or without an exam.  For cats, using the Merial PureVax line as our primary vaccines, only the Distemper vaccine can be stretched out to every third yearly exam.  The Feline Leukemia and Rabies remain yearly. The upper respiratory intranasal continues at 6-month intervals.  Please see the Feline section for information on why and how we use these particular vaccine products.

Zoonotic Diseases:

These are diseases that it is possible to catch from your pet. We have vaccines for some of these conditions.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that we can catch from our infected dogs, which, in turn, catch it from wildlife urine. If you travel with or go camping with your dog or you have visits from wildlife onto your property, your dog may be a candidate for the annual Lepto vaccination.

Rabies is a virus that our pets can catch from raccoons, foxes, bats and skunks and pass on to us.  It is the law to vaccinate your pet against this awful disease.

Roundworms and hookworms are intestinal parasites of dogs and cats that have implications for humans.  These occur commonly, however, regular use of the heartworm preventives that we recommend will control these infestations.  We also check for these parasites at least annually at the time of the physical examination of your pet, or in the case of cats, spare them the discomfort and simply deworm them if appropriate.

Generally, strictly indoor cats are not exposed to the life cycles of most parasites. They can catch tapeworms from fleas, however, tapes are an owner diagnosis (vet’s tests are poor at detecting tapeworms), seen as little flat white worms in fresh stool or similar to short-grain rice on the fur around the butt, in the dried state.  Since indoor cats aren’t likely to get any worm but tapeworms and since tapes are an owner diagnosis, we do not put indoor cats through the discomfort of obtaining a stool sample for testing unless a gastro-intestinal problem exists.

Giardia is protozoal disease that we can catch from our pets (dogs, mainly), and there is a vaccine for it, however, some experts do not recommend this vaccine.  Normal, proper hygiene and prompt veterinary attention for any GI illness afflicting your pet is usually sufficient to avoid this infection.  One of the many diagnostic test kits Cross Creek keeps on hand is the giardia test kit.

Toxoplasmosis could be transmitted via cat feces to you; however, this is unlikely under normal circumstances of proper hygiene.  More commonly, poorly cooked meat or handling contaminated soil is the culprit.  Vaccination is not currently available for Toxo. We test for toxoplasmosis by sending off a series of blood samples to the lab.

Wellness Testing:

As highly trained and skilled as veterinarians are at doing physical exams, a clearer and more comprehensive assessment of your pet’s state of health can be obtained by doing a complete blood count and a selected biochemical analysis. These analyses are commonly referred to as Wellness Panels.  Your pet may appear ok and have a normal physical exam, but may have a clinically unapparent problem in the making which could be detectable by theses blood tests (up to 15% of pets).

Dogs are generally far more amenable to having blood drawn (phlebotomy) than cats, so these tests are mainly performed on dogs starting at 2 years of age and every 2 years thereafter until about 8 years of age. At and above 9 years of age Sr. Comprehensive Panels are performed each year on both dogs and cats. As the name suggests, this panel includes a larger range of biochemical parameters and includes screening for thyroid issues as well.

Wellness Exams:

In a sense, the yearly physical exam may be considered a wellness exam for apparently healthy pets.  Since one year represents up to 7 dog or cat years, it is rational and reasonable to examine your pet for problems every six months, even if there appear to be no problems, offhand.  The earlier a problem is detected, the more likely a successful intervention can be carried out.