Wellness Care and Exams
Routine health exams are one of the most important steps you can take in order to maintain your cat or dog’s health. At East Longmeadow Animal Hospital, we recommend that your cat or dog has a routine wellness check-up once a year to ensure your pet is happy and healthy.
Our wellness check-ups are a simple and effective way of monitoring your cat or dog’s health. In addition to a full snout to tail exam, we may customarily recommend the following for your pet:
- Fecal parasite testing
- Rabies (Canines and Felines)
- Feline/Canine Distemper (Canines and Felines)
- Canine Parvovirus (Canines only)
- Canine Hepatitis (Canines only)
- Feline Calicivirus (Felines only)
- Feline Rhinotracheitis (Felines only)
- Baseline bloodwork and/or urine screening
- Heartworm and tick panel screening tests
- Preventative medicine
- Flea and tick topicals or oral medication
- Monthly heartworm medication
Cats and dogs age seven years for every one human year. This means that even being seen once yearly would be like a human getting a check-up every seven years. Our pets often can’t express when they are suffering from an illness or disease and may not present symptoms with the onset of an illness or disease. These routine check-ups may in some cases allow the doctor to recognize early signs of illness that would otherwise not necessarily be noted at home. Remember, for an owner that sees the pet every day, gradual changes aren’t as easily noticeable. We may recommend biannual exams for senior pets and pets with chronic disease.
Some signs that your pet may be suffering from an illness or disease include:
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Decreased activity or lack of appetite
- More or less frequent urination
- Hair Loss / Itchy Skin
- Difficulty moving – stiffness or lameness
Sometimes the key to keeping a healthy pet is to avoid issues from the get-go. There are many simple, routine treatments that can be done in the comfort of an owner’s home that can help manage the health and well being of pets.
We routinely recommend the use of heartworm preventatives such as Heartgard® and Interceptor Plus, and topical flea and tick control such as Nexgard® and Seresto Collar. For many patients, routine screening blood work such as heartworm/tick panels or major blood chemistries are advised as well.
Often times when your cat or dog has fleas, you will notice they may appear restless and are constantly scratching. Fleas are not harmless and can actually be life-threatening to your pet. It is important to provide your pet with a flea preventive since those fleas, they can bite you too!
Ticks can spread diseases including Lyme disease, tick paralysis, and other serious diseases. If your pet spends time outdoors, it is important to invest in a tick preventative to keep them safe. After you and your pet spend time outdoors, it is important that you check both yourself and the pet to catch any ticks that may have found their way onto you and your pet.
Heartworm is a serious disease that can be fatal. It is caused by heartworms that live in the lungs and heart. Protecting your pet is easy. Products like Heartgard® protect your pet from this serious disease.
When vaccinating, we evaluate on a case-by-case basis to ensure that there is no over-vaccination of pets at low risk for certain diseases. Talking with the veterinarian about home life, hobbies, and exposure to wildlife will help to ensure that the proper measures are taken to vaccinate your pet. At East Longmeadow Animal Hospital, we currently vaccinate for these common diseases:
Bordetella (Kennel Cough)
FVRCP (Feline Distemper)
Periodontal disease is the most common illness in dogs and cats over three years of age. Bacteria in dental plaque irritate the gum tissue, leading to infection and loss of bone surrounding the teeth.
“Bad breath” is the first sign owners often notice at home. Inflamed gums are painful, but cats and dogs are very stoic and will not show dental pain. Meanwhile, bacteria below the gum line can enter the bloodstream, and studies have proven that pets with severe periodontal disease sustain microscopic damage to kidneys, liver, and heart muscle.
Prevention is the key to management of periodontal disease: daily oral hygiene at home combined with periodic professional cleaning, and, when necessary, extraction of diseased teeth will keep your cat or dog’s mouth clean and healthy.
At East Longmeadow Animal Hospital, we are trained and equipped to provide the best dental care to your pet. A complete oral health assessment is begun in the office as part of a physical exam. Digital dental X-rays under general anesthesia are an important part of this process, allowing fast and accurate evaluation of disease below the gum line. Teeth are ultrasonically scaled both above and below the gum line, followed by polishing. The goal is to protect and save healthy teeth, and when necessary remove diseased, painful teeth. In cats, tooth resorption causes painful teeth that must be extracted for comfort. Your pet will have local nerve blocks and go home with oral pain medication. Most cats and dogs are eating within 24 hours and will eat even dry food following multiple dental extractions.
How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth
Dental disease (especially periodontal disease) is the most common disease in pet dogs and cats. It is also one of the most preventable or reducible diseases in our pets by feeding a crunchy diet, providing appropriate chew treats and toys and daily tooth brushing.
- The first step is to start with a clean, healthy mouth, such as with a young pet with healthy new teeth and gums or after your pet had had a professional dental cleaning.
- You will need a soft-bristled toothbrush and veterinary toothpaste. Human toothpastes and baking soda may cause problems with dogs and cats. Veterinary toothpastes have flavors that are appealing to dogs and cats. Anything other than a bristled toothbrush will not get below the gum line (the most important area to brush).
- There are several important facts about our pets’ mouths that tell us when, where, and how to brush. Periodontal disease in dogs and cats usually affects the upper back teeth first and worst. Plaque builds up on the tooth surface daily, especially just under the gum line. It takes less than 36 hours for this plaque to become mineralized and harden into “tartar” (calculus) that cannot be removed with a brush. Because of this progression, brushing should be done daily, with a brush to remove the plaque from under the gum line.
- Pick a time of day that will conveniently become part of your pet’s and your daily routine. For dogs, just before a walk and for both dogs and cats, before a daily treat can help your pet actually look forward to brushing time. Take a few days to let both of you get used to the process. Follow with praise and a walk or treat each time. Start by offering them a taste of the veterinary toothpaste. The next time, let them taste the toothpaste and then run your finger along the gums of the upper teeth. Repeat the process with the toothbrush. Get the bristles of the brush along the gum from back to front, making small circles along the gum lines. It should take you less than 30 seconds to brush your pet’s teeth. Do not try to brush the entire mouth at first. If all that your pet lets you brush is the outside of the upper teeth, you are still addressing the most important area of periodontal disease prevention. If your pet eventually allows you to brush most of their teeth, so much the better.
- Even with the best tooth brushing, some dogs and cats may still need occasional professional cleaning, just like humans. By brushing your pet’s teeth daily, curtailing the amount of periodontal disease, you may reduce the frequency and involvement of dental cleanings and provide your pet with a healthier, sweeter smile
Click here to download a guide to brushing your pet’s teeth.
Euthanasia Guidance and Services
As your pet ages, it’s important to pay special attention to their overall health and happiness. For some pets, this means just occasional blood screenings, but for others there may be the necessity for more frequent visits to East Longmeadow Animal Hospital. Most older cats or dogs can be helped with pain medications alone or in conjunction with natural supplements.
Some common ailments that we screen for include:
- Heart issues
- Dental concerns
- Hearing and vision loss
- Major organ functions
How do you know if your pet is a senior?
Often cats are considered mature at ages 7-10 years and seniors from 11 years of age and older. Most dogs are considered to be seniors once they reach 8 years of age. Some larger breeds like Great Danes are considered seniors around 6 or 7 years of age.
Does my senior pet require extra tests?
Once your pet is 8 years of age or older, we recommend getting baseline bloodwork and urine in order to screen for underlying conditions that may not be noticeable at home yet. Many slow to progress issues are hard to recognize at home since owners see their pets every day.
Are there symptoms and changes I should look for in my senior pet?
If your senior pet develops any of these symptoms, you should call us at 413-788-9657 to schedule an appointment:
- Extreme weight loss
- Difficulty climbing stairs
- Loss of house training
- Changes in activity level
- Loss of hearing or vision
- Increase in thirst /urination
Laboratory Testing & Diagnostics
East Longmeadow Animal Hospital is proud to offer laboratory testing with our state-of-the-art in-house equipment. We provide a wide array of laboratory tests, all of which are performed directly inside our hospital.
Here at East Longmeadow Animal Hospital, we have an in-house laboratory and digital x-ray equipment.
This equipment provides same-day results for your pet, when needed, and allows us to start treatment during that same visit. For the more complicated cases, we work with a handful of outside laboratories to get answers with a speedy turnaround as well.
Some of our common laboratory tests include:
- Urinalysis/urine culture and sensitivity
- Complete blood counts (CBC)
- Pre-operative screenings
- Major organs including liver and kidney functions
- Thyroid levels
- Skin fungal cultures
In order to provide clients and patients with even more diagnostic tools, our x-rays have more detail than ever. Also, being fully digital means that patients that are referred out have the ability to bring their x-rays with them on a CD or to be emailed ahead. We strive to ensure that all patients get the best treatment available to them in a prompt and efficient manner.
What are some reasons that my pet may need x-rays?
- Foreign objects
- Broken or dislocated bones
- Pneumonia, bronchitis, or other chest related issues
- GI upset
- Heart conditions
Some of our common surgeries include but are not limited to:
- Routine spaying/neutering
- Mass removal
- Hernia repair
Pre-Surgical Steps, Anesthesia, & Monitoring
To reduce patient risk, it is mandatory to run pre-surgical blood screens. This pre-surgical blood screen is an important step in the health of your pet during surgery. This screening is important as it can reveal an underlying illness or disease, especially in older pets. All patients are monitored with EKG leads and blood oxygen levels. They are supplemented with heat and IV fluids and their blood pressure is monitored.
Pain management is evaluated on a patient-by-patient basis to ensure comfort before, during, and after surgery. We strive to provide a comfortable recovery for your pet. When your pet is discharged, we may send additional pain medication for your pet at home. Our staff will go through the post-care procedure for your pet and dosage information on any medications.
Post Surgery Care
When it is time for your pet to be discharged, our staff will provide you with detailed information with instructions on how to properly care for your pet, post surgery. It is important to follow instructions to help assist your pet in their speedy recovery.
When should I spay/neuter my dog or cat?
Dogs: Typically dogs are neutered around six to nine months of age. If you have an adult dog, they can still be neutered. For canines, spay and neuter recommendations vary based upon breed and size of pet. Your vet will provide you with recommendations based upon the individual patient during an exam.
Cats: Kittens can be spayed or neutered as young as six months old. It is recommended that you spay or neuter your cat before they are five months old.
Chronic Disease and Pain Management
What is a chronic disease?
A chronic disease is a condition that has a slow progression over a long period of time; chronic diseases can often be maintained with treatment.
Some types of chronic diseases include:
- Dermatological conditions
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid disease
- Degenerative joint disease
Does your cat or dog suffer from a chronic illness and require specialized care? At East Longmeadow Animal Hospital, we are committed to helping you provide the proper treatment for your pet. On occasion, this means medications or fluid therapy, which may need to be routinely given at home with follow-up appointments done in the hospital. Discussing long-term care and disease management options are an important step in disease management. We are here to help you every step of the way.
Here are a few examples of other body functions that can be affected by a pet’s nutrition:
- Food allergies/intolerances
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chronic disease management
- Preventing urinary crystal and stone formation
At East Longmeadow Animal Hospital, we encourage you to ask us which pet food is right for your pet. The description on cat and dog foods doesn’t always accurately describe what’s in your pet’s food. Our staff and veterinarians are experienced in pet nutrition and are dedicated to helping pet owners find the best fit for their pet. Here at ELAH, we carry full lines of prescription pet foods including:
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that over 54% of cats and dogs in the United States are overweight. To help prolong the life of your cat or dog, diet plays a crucial role. An overweight pet is at risk for a number of health problems including the following:
- Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart and Respiratory Disease
- Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury
- Kidney Disease
- Many Forms of Cancer
- Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)
Have a question?
Use the form below to send us a message! A member of our team will get back to you as quickly as possible. If you need immediate assistance, please give us a call at 413-788-9657.