How does dog wellness impact the longevity of my pets?

The overall wellness of your pet, as with any animal, the healthier they are, the longer they will live, typically. If a pet has intestinal parasites, they're more prone to secondary infections, they won't absorb their food properly. The parasites interfere with their health, so their longevity may not be as long as pets that are not on dewormers or don't have intestinal parasites. Not doing wellness checks, not doing blood work and vaccines can potentially shorten your pet's lifespan because we're not protecting against common viruses, bacteria, and diseases in dogs. Blood work can pick up on things that may not be visible to the naked eye outside the body, but visible within the blood. If we catch it sooner, we can treat it and prolong your pet's life as opposed to not doing blood work and not knowing it's there.

Dr. Kelley Wallace
Catawba Heights Animal Hospital

How soon should I bring my pet in to see a veterinarian for a wellness exam?

When you get a pet, you should bring them in when you get them, and we recommend having them see the veterinarian annually. When your pet becomes geriatric, they tend to age a little faster than when they're younger, so sometimes twice a year for your older pets.

Will additional testing be needed beyond a wellness exam?

A wellness exam is just a physical exam where the veterinarian looks at various aspects of your pet. A true wellness involves blood work as well because we can't see on the inside of your pet. Blood work is going to look at the liver, the kidneys, your red blood cells, your white blood cells. It'll check for some parasites, like heartworm disease in dogs. It might also check for some tick-borne diseases, like Lyme disease or Lycia. We also do a stool check testing for intestinal parasites and a urinalysis, which tests the urine. It goes along with the blood work to give us a full picture of kidney function, but also looks for possible issues in the urine, like urinary tract issues.

How will a veterinarian assess my dog's wellness?

Your dog's wellness will be assessed through the physical exam, blood work, fecal check, heartworm tests, and then also the conversation that they have with the owner about what your pet may or may not be doing at home.

What are some dog wellness recommendations my vet is likely to take?

We recommend vaccinations, so distemper parvo combination, rabies, which is required by law, Bordetella, which is for kennel cough, respiratory infections. We also recommend canine influenza, which is a canine flu virus we see in this area and it can cause a lot of sickness and can be fatal at times in certain pets, so we definitely recommend that vaccine. We also recommend leptospirosis, which is a bacteria we see in the area, it's common in the South, it's found in the soils, it's carried by rats and mice, it's transmissible to humans and can be fatal if untreated, so we highly recommend that vaccine. And a new one that's very much recommended in North Carolina now is Lyme disease. We are seeing pets coming up positive for Lyme disease, especially those that have been up in the mountains of North Carolina. We have had a few that have not been up in that area, have been locally here in the Charlotte-Belmont area and have come up positive for Lyme. So the ticks are out there, they're carrying disease, we recommend vaccinating for Lyme now since it's being seen in this area. We also recommend regular dental screenings and cleanings to get the tartar off your dog's teeth because bad teeth can lead to heart and kidney issues. And other preventative care we recommend is regular deworming, heartworm prevention, and flea tick prevention.

What are some possible environmental factors that can affect a dog's wellness?

Environmental factors are going to be outside. The ground can have intestinal parasites, hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms. Tapeworms come from fleas, those are outside as well, along with ticks.

Why is early detection of health issues in my dog so important?

If we can detect things earlier, treatments are usually a lot easier and cheaper than if they are more advanced. An example would be a dog that's diabetic, if we pick up on it early before the dog showing outward signs of being in a complication of diabetes called diabetic ketoacidosis, it's much easier to treat than having to put the pet in the hospital, having to treat more aggressively with insulin and fluids and other medications to help get them out of the crisis. Also if we're able to, say your dog has a heart murmur and we do blood work, we deem that we need to go on heart medications, the sooner we put your dog on those heart medications, the more likely the heart will last longer in your pet and your pet will have a longer period of time where they have a good quality of life as opposed to not doing anything that heart wearing out sooner and then your pet unfortunately succumbing to the heart issue.

What is geriatric screening for my dog?

Geriatric screening is as we get older, humans, dogs, cats, more things, there are certain things we need to test for. So in dogs, thyroidism or hypo low-functioning thyroid is more common in middle-aged to older dogs so our blood panels, we also call it a large panel in our practice, screens for more of those things that we see in older dogs like thyroid so we can get a jump on things, treat them quicker than if they weren't in that panel.

Why will my dog suggest allergy testing for my dog?

It depends, this is more for pets that may have recurrent skin and or ear infections that may not be seasonal, there are some allergy testings out there. The gold standard is going to a dermatologist and having the skin testing done like they do on humans, there are some blood testing, it's not as accurate, it can say you're allergic to something and you're really not or miss it completely and you're really allergic to it. So we don't usually suggest allergy testing for dogs very often, that's something more with a dermatology and chronic recurrent skin or ear issues when we would have that conversation. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your dog's wellness, please give us a call, we're always here for you, thank you.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 827-0616, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram