You and your pet are mutually devoted, and you can’t remember what life was like before them. The idea of them not being by your side one day already makes you sad—no matter how far off that time might be. The team at Lebanon Animal Hospital understands the deep bond you share with your pet, and wants you to know some of the many ways you can give them every opportunity for a long and healthy life. 

What is preventive pet care?

Preventive care is focused on preventing illness, injury, and disease. Proactive measures allow veterinarians and pet owners to notice the smallest changes in pet physical health and behavior before they become big problems. Early detection typically means simpler and less expensive treatments, and can more likely achieve an effective cure or management.

Reactive pet care is the opposite—care that happens only once the pet’s health is compromised. Reactive treatment options are limited, costly, or nonexistent. While reactive care is sometimes unavoidable, Lebanon Animal Hospital’s veterinarians and team members strive to provide your pet with every opportunity for preventive care.

The pet wellness exam

The routine wellness exam is the cornerstone of preventive pet care. Bringing your pet to Lebanon Animal Hospital every 6 to 12 months allows us to assess their overall physical condition and their weight, discuss their evolving needs, and give personalized recommendations about food, behavior, and general care. 

While your pet may look normal to you, our veterinarian’s nose-to-tail examination can uncover a multitude of hidden conditions, including:

  • Pain
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Heart murmurs or arrythmias
  • Dental disease
  • External parasites
  • Infection and inflammation
  • Changes in skin or haircoat
  • Abdominal masses

Ideally, your pet’s annual or biannual examination is unremarkable—which doesn’t make the wellness appointment any less valuable. In fact, this is the best outcome, because your pet’s excellent health is confirmed.

Wellness bloodwork and annual screening tests for pets

Annual diagnostic screening tests evaluate your pet’s internal health and can indicate underlying conditions, often long before any outward signs. Out of a quarter million pets in one preventive care study, at least one in seven adult dogs and cats had “significant findings” on their wellness bloodwork that required follow-up or additional testing. The number jumps to one in four senior pets, and two in every five geriatric pets. These pets could receive an early diagnosis and efficient, timely, potentially life-saving or life-prolonging treatment, simply because of their annual blood work.

Lebanon Animal Hospital veterinarians recommend specific testing for each pet life stage, and expanded panels for senior and geriatric pets. Our standard tests include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) — Measures red and white blood cells, platelets, and hemoglobin
  • General chemistry — Assesses organ function, including kidneys and liver
  • Heartworm test — Detects the presence of adult heartworms in circulation 
  • Intestinal (i.e., fecal) parasite screening — A microscopic exam that looks for harmful, infectious gastrointestinal parasites

As with the wellness examination, normal (i.e., negative) screening tests and blood work are helpful for establishing a baseline for your pet. In times of illness, our veterinarian can refer back to these results for valuable insight and comparison.

Parasite prevention in pets

Keeping your pet on a year-round parasite prevention plan safeguards them against dangerous vector-borne diseases, such as heartworm disease, Lyme disease, and ehrlichiosis. Vector-borne infections are increasing in Tennessee as well as nationwide, as the mild winters allow ticks and mosquitoes to extend their seasons, and wildlife migration brings new illnesses—such as Lyme disease—from endemic areas to new territories. 

Consistent year-round preventives ensure your pet is protected when—not if—they’re bitten by a mosquito, tick, or flea. 

Pet nutrition and weight management

What you feed your pet—and how much—can shape their health, and shorten or extend their life. 

  • Pet food— Unfortunately, pet food is a booming industry that often follows human diet fads (e.g., grain-free, vegetarian, keto) rather than animal nutrition science, and unconventional diets can result in devastating consequences, such as grain-free diets that have been associated with dilated cardiomyopathy.

We know that all the pet food options can be overwhelming, so we’re happy to recommend a complete and balanced diet that is backed by research and feeding trials to ensure safety and efficacy. 

  • Obesity prevention — Feeding your pet a portion-controlled diet and keeping them lean is proven to extend their life by nearly two years. Now, that’s worth saying “No” to those begging eyes and that pleading paw, right? When compared with obese pets, lean dogs and cats have a lower risk of cancer, arthritis, diabetes, kidney dysfunction, skin, metabolic, and respiratory issues.

Need help determining if your pet is overweight? Learn how to evaluate their body condition score, or schedule an appointment at our hospital, and check out our post on weight management tips.

Dental health for pets

An often overlooked opportunity for extending your pet’s life lies right under their nose—literally. Routine pet dental care is critical for preventing periodontal disease, which hides below the gum line and affects nearly every pet by 3 years of age. Annual dental cleanings under anesthesia are the only way to assess your pet’s oral health and prevent plaque and tartar. Untreated periodontal disease can shorten your pet’s life by causing heart, liver, and kidney damage. 

Additional home-care measures, such as daily toothbrushing, dental diets, and water additives, help, but do not replace, an annual dental cleaning under anesthesia.

The human-animal bond is one of pure love and devotion. Dedicating yourself to your pet’s preventive care can ensure that bond is longer, stronger, and better with each passing day. Contact us to schedule your pet’s wellness services at Lebanon Animal Hospital.