The term “canine wellness” describes the general health and happiness of dogs. It entails numerous procedures and elements of care designed to advance their physical and emotional wellness.
We believe yearly wellness exams are essential for keeping your canine companion in the best shape possible. We at St. John Animal Clinic perform a full and thorough physical exam to look for problems that you may not be aware of, such as periodontal disease, ear infections, and changes in the eyes. Listening to the heart to identify heart murmurs, palpating the abdomen and skin for masses, and evaluating the bones and joints for pain or mobility issues are all done at yearly wellness exams.
We discuss your pet’s lifestyle and discuss risk assessment to identify which vaccines your pet might need. (See the explanation below about the different vaccinations we have to offer) Yearly wellness blood screenings are recommended to establish normal baselines for your dog, as well as to identify subclinical diseases. Parasite prevention products are also discussed so we can keep your dog free of heartworms, intestinal worms, fleas, and ticks. We also recommend a fecal screening annually to check for any intestinal parasites.
See below for a more detailed explanation of what to expect depending on what life stage your dog is in.
Puppy (0-1 Year):
The staff at St. John Animal Clinic LOVES puppy visits, but they are more than just fun. Puppy visits give us opportunities to not only counsel you on vaccinations and preventative medications that are needed for your pet’s puppyhood to set you and your puppy up for a successful bond. We discuss housebreaking, biting, chewing, and all the frustrating problems which can come with raising a puppy. We will discuss grooming and getting your puppy used to things such as ear cleaning and nail trimming. Raising your puppy right from the start will help prevent problems in the future. We also utilize lots of love and rewards to make puppies happy to come to the veterinary office. We will discuss spaying or neutering and when is the most appropriate time for this based on your pet’s breed and any health concerns.
At your puppy’s first visit, we ask that you bring all health papers you may have and a fresh stool sample to examine for intestinal parasites. We also recommend putting your puppy on a leash or in a carrier for their safety. We will discuss the vaccinations needed based on your pet’s anticipated lifestyle. We individually cater to recommended vaccines based on your pet’s individual risk. We also will set up a deworming plan as well as start your puppy on our recommended parasite prevention products. You can plan on your puppy visiting us every 3-4 weeks until they are between 16-20 weeks of age.
Adult Dog Care (1-6 Years):
Preventative yearly health exams evaluate your dog’s eyes, ears, teeth, heart and lungs, joints, and internal organ systems. The skin and hair coat are evaluated for signs of inflammation, infection, and lumps. If a mass is found, we might recommend a fine needle aspirate (FNA) to help identify what it is and what the next steps may be.
We recommend, in addition to yearly heartworm blood testing, that a wellness profile blood panel be performed to evaluate for early signs of disease, such as liver or kidney disease, as well as screen for any tick-borne disease exposure.
We at St. John Animal Clinic can also provide you with recommendations and supply safe and effective preventative treatments for heartworm, ticks, and fleas based on your pet’s needs and lifestyle. The annual exam is also the perfect opportunity to speak with our veterinarians about any concerns you may have about your dog’s health, activity, behavior, or nutrition.
Senior Dog Care (6 Years – Older):
Unfortunately, dogs age much faster than humans. Depending on the breed and size of your dog, being classified as a senior can be as young as 6 or 7 years old. Senior pets are recommended to be seen every six months, and those with chronic illnesses, such as arthritis, diabetes, and kidney disease, often require more frequent check-ups. During your pet’s senior exam, a thorough physical exam, including palpation of joints and evaluation of sight and hearing, can be performed, as well as looking for any skin masses. We often recommend more frequent blood work to monitor chronic diseases and medications which your pet may be on. Make sure to bring a list of all medications as well as supplements that your dog is receiving.
Closely monitoring your senior pet’s activity, appetite, mobility, and thirst can give us clues to changes, which, when managed early on, can often lead to a better quality of life for our aging companion.
- Rabies Vaccine
We offer a one and three-year vaccine. This vaccine is required by law and must be given by a licensed and accredited veterinarian. Rabies is a deadly disease that is caused by a virus that affects the nervous system. Dogs are exposed most commonly to wildlife such as bats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and foxes.
Distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, parvovirus combination vaccine. This vaccine protects against five highly contagious diseases that affect the nervous system. These diseases can be fatal even with aggressive treatment. After the dog’s first year of age, this vaccine is given every three years, or there is the option to check titers to see if your dog is due for another booster.
Leptospirosis is a spiral bacteria that wildlife such as skunks, raccoons, opossums, rodents, and deer can carry. The bacteria is transmitted through urine, so that dogs can be exposed through direct contact with urine or contact with water and soil contaminated with infected urine. Does your dog drink from puddles or eat snow? It is also a zoonotic disease meaning it can be transmitted to people. This disease can cause fatal kidney and liver damage. This is considered a lifestyle vaccine, but most dogs in our area are at risk, and we see at least several confirmed or suspected cases each year.
This is the bacteria known to cause an upper respiratory infection, or what is known as Kennel Cough. It is required by most boarding/grooming establishments and dog parks. We recommend it if your dog goes to boarding facilities, grooming, pet stores, dog parks, etc.
- Canine Influenza
There are two strains of canine influenza that vaccines are available for, the H3N8 and the H3N2. Both strains have been reported in Indiana and throughout the United States over the last six years. This vaccine is recommended for any dogs who go to boarding facilities, grooming, or dog parks, as they are at higher risk of being exposed to more dogs. Like the human flu shot, it may not protect your pet 100%, but it will help lower the severity of illness and has been known to prevent pneumonia in dogs that have contracted the flu.
Our first defense against Lyme disease is tick prevention. Ask us about our recommendations for flea/tick prevention. The deer tick is the carrier of Lyme disease, which is known to cause fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and joint pain. Lyme disease is becoming more prevalent in our area, and if your dog has exposure to ticks, this vaccine may be one to consider.
We recommend that every puppy have a microchip implanted at some time in their adolescence. A microchip is a tiny implant (about the size of a grain of rice) that permanently identifies you as their owner. If a dog is lost, all animal controls, shelters, as well as veterinary clinics have microchip scanners that can identify who the cat belongs to. We use “Save This Life” microchips, which allow the finder to Google the microchip, and the company will call you immediately when your pet is found.
Heartworms are parasites that live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of affected dogs, cats, and other mammals. Heartworms create a lot of damage to their host and can cause lung disease, heart failure as well as damage to other organs, which can affect your dog’s health and quality of life even long after the parasites are gone. Left untreated, heartworm disease can be fatal. Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes and is preventable.
Heartworm prevention should be given at the same time every month, year-round, for your dog’s entire life. Did you know that heartworm preventatives work by treating heartworms already infecting your dog within the past month or longer? That is why it is extremely important to give the prevention on time, every time. If your dog becomes infected with heartworm, treatment is costly and not without complications. There are many options for heartworm prevention available to you. Let’s talk about the heartworm preventative that is right for you and your pet!