Wellness care encompasses all the preventative strategies we take to keep your pet well. It includes vaccinations, parasite preventions, and routine diagnostic testing such as fecal exams, heartworm tests, and senior lab panels. Keeping your pet on a regular wellness program is essential for maintaining your pet’s health and catching disease processes early. Early detection allows your veterinarian to treat the issue to avoid something serious down the road. Wellness care through your veterinarian starts around three weeks of age and continues throughout your pet’s life.

Physical Examinations:

Physical examinations are the most important, yet often the most undervalued, aspect of your pet’s wellness plan. Dogs and cats do not express illness and discomfort the way humans do. This can lead to health issues going unnoticed at home. Examinations performed by your veterinarian can identify health issues before they get out of hand, preventing undue suffering or costly emergencies.

Kittens and puppies should be first evaluated at three weeks of age for any congenital issues. They will get their next exam at 6 weeks of age at the time of their first vaccines and again at around 16 weeks when they get their last puppy or kitten boosters.

Adult dogs and cats up to 7 years old should have annual examinations performed. Dogs and cats eight years and older should have examinations conducted six months.



Neonates who nurse on their mothers have the benefit of getting maternal antibodies through their mother’s milk. This helps to protect them from diseases until they are weaned. As these antibodies wear off after weaning, puppies and kittens become more susceptible to illness. By six weeks of age puppies and kittens need to have their first round of vaccines. This timeframe is important as it allows the vaccine to become effective as the maternal antibody levels are decreasing. Booster vaccines are needed every three weeks until puppies and kittens are 15-16 weeks of age.

Some breeds may need additional vaccine boosters due to their increased susceptibility to certain diseases. Puppies or kittens who are orphaned should get their first vaccines at four weeks of age.

Dogs and cats continue to need vaccines throughout their lives. Which vaccines are needed and how often they are given is dependent on several factors and will be discussed with you at your pet’s annual visits.

Fecal examinations:

Intestinal parasites or “worms” can infect our pets without us knowing. Unless the parasite burden is very heavy it is not likely that you would see worms in the stool. The exception to this rule is tapeworms which look like little pieces of rice in the stool. Otherwise, microscopic examination is typically required to confirm the presence of parasites. Worms will shed their eggs in the stool which will infect the environment, allowing the parasites to be inadvertently ingested and start the cycle over again in the same or different animal. It is these eggs that we look for when we perform fecal examinations. Since worms only shed their eggs intermittently we may not always find parasites depending on when a sample is collected. For this reason, we check fecal samples on a regular basis.

Intestinal parasites are everywhere in our environment. It is very common for puppies and kittens to become infected within the first few weeks of life as they are not on preventative medications. Fecal samples should be evaluated at three weeks of age when puppies and kittens have their first exams. They will either be dewormed based on what parasites are found in the fecal sample or given a prophylactic dewormer if no parasites are found.

Fecal examinations should be performed on an annual basis in adults and whenever there is a gastrointestinal issue noted.


Blood tests:

Physical examinations are the cornerstone of your pet’s wellness plan. However, even the best examination cannot catch all subclinical illnesses. Blood testing is a non-invasive way to get additional valuable information about your pet’s health including the presence of infections, organ function, and the presence of blood parasites.

Kittens should be tested for feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) while they are getting their kitten boosters. The age at which this test should be done depends on several factors and will be discussed with you during your visit. Any sick cat should also be tested regardless of their testing or vaccine history.

Dogs should be tested annually for heartworms even if they are on prevention. While preventative medications are highly effective, they are not 100%. Early detection of heartworm infection is treatable. Left untreated, these parasites may cause heart failure and death.

Senior labwork should be performed either annually or every six months depending on your pet’s age. Assumptions should never be made about your pet’s health even when you are doing everything right for them. These senior lab panels are crucial for the early detection of organ dysfunction as pets age. The ultimate goal is to get lab results that are normal. However, if we find something it allows us to be proactive in treatment so it doesn’t become more serious down the road because regular lab work was not done.

Preventative Medications:

All pets should be on preventative medications for fleas, heartworms, and intestinal parasites. Tick prevention should also be an important consideration and we do recommend this for all pets.
The majority of dermatologic issues we find are typically related to fleas and owners are unaware their pet has them. Fleas do not leave their hosts unless they are forced to so unless there is a very severe infestation of fleas in a household, owners will generally not see fleas. Even when looking through your pet’s fur it is very difficult to find fleas unless there are several of them. Once an infestation develops it is hard to clear so prevention is always the best choice.

Heartworms affect both dogs and cats so both should be on prevention. These parasites are transmitted by mosquitoes and it only takes a single bite to infect your pet. In our region mosquitoes thrive all year so prevention should be maintained 12 months a year. Mosquitoes like to sneak inside homes, especially as the weather cools so even strictly indoor pets are susceptible to heartworms.

Most heartworm preventions contain intestinal parasite prevention. This is another reason to keep your pets on heartworm prevention. Many intestinal parasites are transmissible to humans, especially children and some can cause severe health issues. Using monthly prevention not only protects your pet but your human family members as well.

Ticks transmit serious diseases to both animals and humans. Any pet who spends time outside should be on tick prevention. There are several options for preventatives and we will discuss which is best for your pet with you during your pet’s visits.


Let Us Help

Our goal is to get ahead of any potential problems through regular care and help provide the best life possible for your pet.