200 Georgetown Way, Charlottesville, VA 22901   |   434 977 4800

Preventative Care

The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly holds true when it comes to pet health.  Even if your pets aren’t excited about going to the vet, the cost of prevention is often a fraction of the cost of treating a disease or problem once it has become more advanced, and early diagnosis and treatment of developing problems or diseases can increase the likelihood of successful outcomes. Georgetown Veterinary Hospital provides preventative care for dogs and cats to keep them healthy well into the future.    

Even healthy dogs and cats should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year, preferably twice a year. If your pet is older or has medical problems, more frequent visits may be necessary. Physical exams can detect heart murmurs or skipped heartbeats, enlarged lymph nodes, skin and/or abdominal tumor, and enlarged or shrunken kidneys, liver, or spleen that may indicate systemic disease. A look at the eyes can determine your dog’s visual capacity. An orthopedic evaluation can tell if your dog is arthritic and in need of pain medication. An evaluation of the skin and coat will determine the need for flea and tick control or diagnose skin infections (bacterial, fungal, or parasitic). Hair loss may indicate systemic disease or hormonal imbalances. The American Heartworm Society advises annual heartworm blood testing. Intestinal parasites can affect both dogs and humans, so a stool sample should be analyzed at least once (preferably twice) a year. To diagnose organ malfunctions in the early stages, blood tests (complete blood count, chemistry panel, and thyroid screen) and urinalysis should be performed annually. If problems are diagnosed, more frequent testing may be necessary. For dogs in areas where ticks are prevalent, screening for vector-borne diseases like Lyme disease or ehrlichiosis may be advised.

Parasite Prevention - Dogs should be given medication to prevent heartworms all year long in endemic areas. Many heartworm medications also prevent or treat intestinal parasites, and some may also treat fleas and ticks. Your veterinarian can provide these medications and a parasite prevention protocol can be tailored to your dog.

Immunizations - Vaccinations are divided into two groups: core vaccines and non-core (optional) vaccines. All dogs considered stable and healthy to vaccinate should be immunized for rabies, distemper, canine parvovirus, and canine adenovirus-2 (hepatitis) (usually offered as a combined DAP vaccination). Vaccination for kennel cough, Lyme disease, leptospirosis, and canine influenza may be recommended for dogs with potential exposure to these diseases. See the “Vaccines for Dogs” handout for more detailed information.

Weight Maintenance - Research has shown that leaner dogs and cats live longer and have fewer health problems. Your veterinarian can provide you with dietary and exercise recommendations to help your pet stay as healthy and happy as possible.

Spaying/Neutering - Spaying or neutering can have numerous health and behavior benefits. Having this surgery done can prevent infections and some types of cancer. Your veterinarian will discuss these benefits and the timing of the surgery for your pet. 

Preventive healthcare involves a multi-faceted approach that includes veterinary evaluation of your pet’s overall health and risks of disease or other health problems. We will provide you with recommendations for your pet’s nutrition, dental care, vaccinations and heartworm/flea/tick prevention, as well as recommendations specifically tailored to your pet’s health status and risk factors.  If you’re not sure whether your pet is up to date on his/her preventative care or need to make an appointment, call 434 977 4600.

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