Regular examinations of your pet are important for the early diagnosis and prevention of disease Often, these examinations are performed at the time of a pet’s annual examination. Commonly, we will discover problems in need of attention, such as ear, skin and dental infections, arthritis, heart conditions and even tumors. This is also an opportunity to discuss your pet’s diet, weight and behavior with the doctor.
Vaccinations should be boosted annually to protect against infectious diseases.
Heartworms and De-worming.
Dogs are susceptible to acquiring round-, hook- and whipworms from sniffing around on the ground. Whipworms may become a major problem in older dogs. Tapeworms can be acquired from flea ingestion. Heartworms are a blood parasite, carried by mosquitoes, which grow up in the heart and may cause heart failure. Dogs should be kept on a monthly preventive medicine year ’round to protect against these parasites.
Roundworms are a common problem in cats. They can cause problems in humans, too, especially young children, so a good de-worming program is very important.
Warm summers and centrally heated winters mean that fleas are now a problem all year, resulting in a dry, itchy coat or even a “hot-spot”. Treatment can be frustrating with the wrong products. We can recommend the most effective products for you.
Ticks can be picked up long grasses and shrubbery at any time of year. They can carry a number of dangerous diseases including Lyme disease. Ticks should not be removed with fingers, but instead use tweezers or “Tick-off” devices. Products like Frontline, K9-Advantix and Scalibor collars will kill ticks and may even repel them from biting.
Neutering (Spaying and Altering)
Both male & female dogs may be neutered after 6 months of age, females usually before their first “heat”, or estrus. Unspayed bitches are prone to false pregnancies, mammary cancers and pyometra, an infection of the womb. The latter is common, may be fatal and requires emergency ovohysterectomy (not always safe when the dog is old and gravely ill). Male dog are usually castrated to stop unwelcome behaviors such as vagrancy, excessive libido or aggression, or, later in life, to treat prostate enlargement. Both male & female cats are routinely neutered at 6 months of age. Otherwise, females will start going into heat frequently, becoming pregnant if they go outside. If they don’t go through pregnancy, they are prone to pyometra and mammary tumors. Un-neutered male cats may spray urine and become territorial, getting into fights, resulting in abscesses and disease such as leukemia and immunodeficiency virus.
This is sadly a too- often neglected aspect of preventive health care. The teeth are largely out of sight, and it is often the owner’s sense of smell that alerts him or her to their pet’s dental condition! After the first year, dogs should have their teeth brushed at least every two days. There are ‘Doggie toothbrush & paste’ kits, and oral disinfectant rinses designed to help accomplish this. We favor the CET product range which also includes Antiseptic- coated soft rawhide “CET Chews”. These sterilize the mouth while the dog exercises its teeth & gums. Dogs love them! Additionally, dental toys are helpful, & raw marrow bones for larger dogs. But do not let your dog chew on any bone that it can splinter up and swallow. Prescription Dental Diets are also available. But it is a myth that your dog won’t get tartar just because you feed dry dog food. Cats also benefit from dental home care. Brushing is ideal, but more challenging to perform. CET makes a feline chew product that most cats enjoy. Both dogs and cats need their teeth looked at once a year by their veterinarian to assess for tartar build up, demonstrate brushing, and determine if a dentistry under anesthesia is warranted. Cats will have much healthier teeth in the long run if their teeth are scaled once yearly. With most cats, Dr. Lugten is able to do this as part of the yearly office exam without requiring anesthesia. Following these simple steps will lead to a happier, healthier dog or cat: halitosis free!
Studies have confirmed that lean dogs & cats live longer, healthier lives than overweight ones. A 20% reduction in calories consumed can add 2 years to the life of your dog! Obesity is associated with such diseases as arthritis and diabetes, plus “blocked bladder” and inability to defecate in cats. As part of your yearly visit, we weigh your pet, assess its “Body Condition Score”, and discuss any need for a diet. With the Purina OM weight management program, we even provide a computer print-out of your pets recommended calorie intake, and how much food that translates to.
As dogs and cats grow to middle age, we recommend yearly chemistry screening to ensure that internal illness aren’t ‘creeping up’ without our noticing. With early detection of chronic liver, thyroid or kidney disease, we can start a program of special foods, supplements and medicines to help reduce the damage and improve their quality of life- time span.
Ideally, cats over the age of 10 should have a yearly blood screening test for heart muscle disease. This is estimated to affect 15% of cats. There may be no symptoms at all until they suddenly go into failure. Early warning can enable us to reduce the stress load on the heart.
Dogs on Long Island should have a heartworm blood test yearly. Our in-house test also checks for Lyme, and other tick borne diseases.