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Dog Wellness - Everything Pet Owners Need to Know About Dog Wellness



Dr. Sudeep Wahla
Prestige Animal Hospital

What is involved in a dog wellness exam?

A dog wellness exam is generally an exam we do every six months on the dogs, and we do a thorough musculoskeletal exam, eye exam, ear exam, look at their mouth, check their lymph nodes, check their skin, look under the tail, check their paws, discuss any issues that you may be having, or concerns, and lifestyles of the pets.

How does dog wellness impact the longevity of my pet?

Longevity is an interesting word because our main goal here is quality and length of life for the pet. So, a healthy, long, quality life, which I think is the goal for all of us. But essentially, wellness exams are generally meant to be on healthy pets, but it's amazing how many times we find underlying issues because pets hide these issues so well.

So, our goal is to find the issues early on and find a way that we could prevent them. What they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so we take that to heart.

How soon should I bring my pet in to see a veterinarian for a wellness exam?

Back to every six months. Every six months, because remember, pets age more quickly than people, and like people, they can't voice if they're feeling off. So, we generally recommend a six month wellness exam.

Is there a specific age you would expect for them to start coming in for that?

Generally, we see them as early as their puppies, but as early as six to eight weeks is when we start seeing and doing puppy exams, getting caught up on their preventative care. Then, we start to see them every six months after that. So, once they're caught up on all their vaccines, we see them at the year old and every six months.

Will additional testing be needed beyond a wellness exam?

That will depend on your exam and your pet's lifestyle and age. But generally, there are some preventative care tests, again, depending on lifestyle and age that could include blood work, X-rays, ultrasound, urine test, poop test for parasites, and some different kind of skin tests. Sometimes we find underlying ear issues and they need a ... Ear psychology is what they call it. It's when we test what's potentially growing in their ear, bacteria or yeast.

How will a veterinarian assess my dog's wellness?

Assessment is basically ... During the examination, we take a look ... You know, we have different instruments. The otoscope, which is what we use to look in the ear. Ophthalmoscope, we look in the eye. Our stethoscope, we listen to the heart and lungs. We take temperatures. And then, as veterinarians, we're trained to look for things that, as pet owners, we generally don't look for, such as lymph node enlargement, dental disease. So, these are typical things that we'll do during the examination. We’ll also do a range of motion exercises to test the musculoskeletal system and neurologic system.

What are some dog wellness recommendations my vet is likely to make?

We always think about routine dental screening, vaccinations, preventative care, blood work, and X-rays, depending on your pet's age. Heartworm testing, flea and tick control. Just a general overall wellness and preventative care plan. Nutrition, behavior, things like that.

What are some possible environmental factors that can affect dog wellness?

Seasonal changes are a big thing. Right now, we're seeing tons of allergies. Summer, we see a lot of heat stroke and foxtail or grass awns. And depending on where you live at and your location, it could vary. Heartworms are things people tend to see more during the mosquito season. In California, our weather is fairly warm year round, so we tend to see a lot of fleas. So, if you're going on hikes, going to beaches, indoor pets, outdoor pets, all these environmental changes help us gear our preventative care/wellness exams based on the lifestyle that you let us know is going on.

Why is early detection of health issues in my dog so important?

Again, it all boils down to prevention, and that's something that we stress. In quality medicine, you're always trying to prevent or detect things early to prevent them from getting to a point where they progress and it's difficult to treat. An example is kidney disease. If we catch that early enough, something as simple as a diet switch could save the pet from being hospitalized, put on dialysis or fluids, and save the pet owner a lot of money as well.

So, it saves the pet the stress and the care. And so, that's why we need to catch things early and prevent other things, such as vaccines help prevent things from happening.

What is a geriatric dog screening?

You’ve got to love the older guys. My girl's older too right now and she has all the grays. So, geriatric screening essentially is a ... We call it, too, a senior workup, which entails blood work to check internal organ function, urine, check for crystals, underlying urinary tract infections that sometimes dogs can hide, kidney function, even diabetes. That's also a frequent question. Yes, pets can also get diabetes.

We do x-rays of the chest to see heart size because sometimes pets can have an underlying heart issue, which in geriatric screening, we always listen to the heart for heart murmurs and other issues that can possibly be detected.

So, a good senior workup is basically regular, routine exams and some diagnostics to ensure that there's nothing more going on that we just haven't detected yet.

Will my vet suggest allergy testing for my dog?

That depends. I guess, if you're in California, the answer should be yes 100% of the time. I'm joking, I'm joking in that aspect. But we have so many pollens and other things in our area. I mean, come allergy season ... And we don't even count the months. We know, "Boy, it's allergy season," by the number of pets that are coming in.

So, if your pet is licking, itching, or having recurrent skin infections, weepy eyes, sometimes vets will recommend allergy testing. You’ve got to know the signs and symptoms, and that's something that can be discussed during these wellness exams as well.

FAQ - Dog Wellness


Dr. Sudeep Wahla
Prestige Animal Hospital

What are some things I can do to maximize dog wellness at home?

A couple of things you could focus on is, number one, keeping them up to date on all their preventative care, vaccines, making sure you're getting regular deworming, keeping them on flea and tick control, heartworm prevention, monitoring their nails so they're not too long, routine bathing, creating a schedule that you're cleaning and bathing your pets is very important and nutrition, balanced nutrition, feeding them at regular times, which we'll get into a little bit more on the next question, but overall, just creating a routine of good habits, including exercise in which I know even I need to work on a little bit more, but that's something that we all need to keep in mind.

What can I do to provide my dog with the best nutrition possible?

There areso many diets out there and that are well formulated. So I get this question a lot. What do you recommend? So I go based on what I generally feed my dog, which I personally do like Science Diet, Royal Canin, and Purina as my top three because I know they put a lot of research into their products, but there's a lot of diets out there.

So consult with your veterinarian if you have questions about what you should feed and a lot is dictated by age and lifestyle. There's puppy food, adult food, and geriatric food based on the stages of life that your pets go through. So during your regular wellness exams, I think that would be the best question. Avoid high fat foods and if you can't please avoid giving pets people food. We see so many issues with people giving pets people food.

Are there health issues I can watch out for at home?

Yeah, definitely. So this is a good question and check out our YouTube page because we also made a video to detect if your pets have skin issues, but licking at the paws, scratching at their ears, the cartoon where the dog's scooting their butt across the floor, we think it's so cute, but that could be an anal gland issue, a biting at the rump of the tail could indicate fleas, general normal things that they're not doing on a normal basis anymore like eating regularly, maybe they're eating less, any vomiting, diarrhea, not eating at all drinking more or less water, acting tired, not wanting to walk as far or as much. Little subtle signs like this are a good indication something potentially could be going on.

And a good rule of thumb, especially with eating, think about putting yourself in that position. If you haven't eaten or drank in a day, how would you feel? And sometimes people, they wait it out a little bit. Don't do that. Just if they're not eating or drinking, please bring them in right away. That's an important sign in pets that something's going on.

How do I know if my puppy or dog isn't feeling well or is in pain?

Well, pain can manifest in a lot of different signs, panting at rest. So you haven't walked, you haven't played and your pet's sitting there and open up breathing or panting, that can mean they're in pain, not wanting to get up and go out and play or go for a walk to do their normal routine. Some dogs tend to hide a little bit. The more obvious one is kind of squelching or screaming when you touch them somewhere or whiny. This can also be a sign of pain, but they can be very subtle at times and if you're concerned about that, definitely bring them into the hospital please.

How can I keep my dog from being or becoming overweight?

Good question. So the best thing pets have for them, unlike people is we can regulate their portions. So free feeding is the number one way pets gain weight, not from spayed even though people swear by it because my next question after people say my dog gained weight after she got fixed or spayed. I say, "Do you free feed? Or do you measure the food?" I'd say about 85% of people say they free feed and that's the number one way pets gain weight. Free feeding means you pour a bucket of food, you leave it there and let them eat.

So the main way you got to get a cup, not a big coffee cup because my questions are what size or cup. Some people say this big. Some people say this big. Get a measuring cup, measure your dog's food according to their weight, feed them twice a day or three times a day or whatever your regimen is based on the food you are feeding, go by the directions on the back. If they're gaining weight, cut them back. If they're underweight, increase them a little bit, but you have to measure.

How important is regular exercise to dog wellness?

Exercise is very important in pets and people. I always associate pets with people because we all should be doing it. Play time is so healthy. I mean even most dogs, just think of how excited they even get when you say the word “walk”. I have to spell it out for my dog and I think she's catching on now. So they get so happy. So it's good for their mental wellbeing. It's good for their physical wellbeing. It's great to maintain weight, keep those joints moving, so regular exercise is one of the most important things for people and pets.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (909) 527-7004, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.


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