Preventive medicine is the cornerstone of pet wellness and the primary focus of our veterinary care at West Valley Pet Clinic & Avian Medical Group. Every animal companion is treated as an individual, receiving veterinary care tailored to your pet’s needs and lifestyle. Every test, every shot, and every treatment is evaluated to determine if it is necessary and beneficial for your pet.
Pet owners often ask about the need for preventive veterinary medicine: “Can’t you just care for my pet if it gets injured or sick?”
At one time, companion animals were kept exclusively to work. Their job descriptions included herding livestock, protection from wild animals or vermin, and warning their owners of invaders or crisis. While these owners may have cared for these animals, they were expected to perform for their keep—as their usefulness waned, so did their lives.
More recently in our history, these animals have moved from single-purpose workers to companions and members of the family. While our pets may still work on the farm or keep mice away from our homes, their main purpose is as a friend and loved one. With this role change came the desire of pet owners to provide care that extends life, increases comfort, and enhances the human-animal bond, and it has become the job of the veterinarian to meet these new expectations. As a result, our pets have fewer parasites, chronic conditions are being diagnosed and treated earlier, and they are living longer, more comfortable lives. This is what we live for!
The veterinarians at West Valley Pet Clinic perform a thorough exam each and every time we see your pet—whether for an annual exam, a progress exam, or due to a visit for a specific concern. As a result, we are often able to diagnose problems early and minimize or eliminate these issues before they develop into more complicated conditions.
What to Expect
Your pet is carefully evaluated by a veterinarian at every exam from the nose (or beak) to tail and from coat (or feathers) to internal organs. We take into consideration the animal’s condition, age, and breed type when determining what vaccines, treatments, and testing are appropriate for your individual pet.
At each visit, discussions about your pet include adequate housing, diet and nutrition, exercise and play, the use of toys and accessories, and behavioral training. This is the time to bring up any questions or concerns you may have or any changes you have observed in your pet’s behavior or condition since your last visit. These changes may be indicative of a developing condition or disease that will require treatment or may simply be the result of environmental factors that are easily addressed at home.
Until they learn to speak to us, your role as part of their veterinary care is vital. We recognize and place a high value in your feedback and observations at home as they can often provide clues of a developing condition that may lead us to an early diagnosis and therefore prevention or simpler management of their health before something progresses into a more costly or complex illness.
The Pet Owner’s Role
As an important member of the veterinary team, your feedback is a significant part of the wellness and prevention process. Pet owners offer observations based on continuous contact and a close personal relationship, with an eye for detail that is unavailable from even the most comprehensive exam. Your contribution may result in the early diagnosis of a developing condition, treatable with the least invasive procedures and medications.
Vaccines are medical products designed to trigger a protective immune response against infections that can be debilitating or life-threatening if contracted naturally. They can reduce the severity or even prevent future infection altogether if exposed.
To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?
The veterinarians at West Valley Pet Clinic recognize the importance of vaccines as a vital part of preventative medicine and your pet’s health (because exposure cannot always be predicted). We also follow literature and published studies that recognize that some vaccines can provide a longer immunity while others protect for less than a year.
We are not a vaccine assembly line! Your veterinarian will make personalized vaccination recommendations for your pet based on their need, potential exposure level, age, and vaccination history. When appropriate, we can offer titers to determine if the immune system even requires a current vaccination.
Risks in Vaccinating Pets
Any treatment carries some risk, but that risk must be weighed against the benefits of protecting your pet against a potentially fatal disease. While the vast majority of pets respond well to vaccines, uncommon adverse effects are mild and short-term. These include fever, sluggishness, or pain/swelling at the injection site. Very rarely, more serious adverse effects may occur, usually within the first couple hours of a vaccine. These include vomiting, diarrhea, whole body itching, swelling of the face or legs, difficulty breathing, or collapsing. If you notice any adverse effects, please contact our clinic for guidance or bring your pet in for treatment.
External parasites such as fleas and ticks cause more than discomfort in pets—they can carry tapeworms or transmit other diseases that can be serious or fatal. Preventing these unwanted visitors is an important part of your pet’s wellness plan.
West Valley Pet Clinic carries several topical and oral options for flea and tick control and prevention, choosing those that are proven to be most effective and safe. Several over the counter products and dips have the potential to be either ineffective or occasionally toxic.
About Fleas & Ticks
Fleas can not only infest your pet, they can take over your home! The small, wingless, fast-moving fleas can occasionally be found in your pet’s fur, but sometimes the only symptom you notice is your pet scratching! Some dogs and cats are allergic to a flea’s saliva causing inflamed skin and even worse itching. A single female flea can lay hundreds of eggs a day, which can become a fast problem!
Ticks can be found in almost any climate, although they prefer wooded, damp, and grassy areas. As your pet walks through the grass or woods, ticks attach themselves to their skin. While some tick bites may be harmless, others can cause severe health issues and transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted fever. However, these conditions can be caught early with routine testing before your pet even shows symptoms.
Check your pet’s fur and skin (focus on ears, inside the arms and legs, and around the tail) after spending time outdoors. An alcohol swab rubbed or placed around the area may help loosen the tick’s grip. Using tweezers, grab the tick as close to the skin as possible, and slowly remove. If you can remove a tick within 24 hours, the chance of transmission of an illness is greatly reduced!
Call or stop in to discuss what products you can use to prevent ticks from attaching.
What Are Heartworms?
Mosquitos transmit heartworms—a mosquito’s bite allows for the microscopic larvae to enter the bloodstream and over the next several months, a heartworm can grow up to 12 inches! Although an animal will show no symptoms with early infection, once adult heartworms are present, they can lodge in the vessels and can show a variety of symptoms including weight loss, lethargy, exercise intolerance, coughing, or even sudden death.
Although not as common as in the Midwest and Southeast of the United States, heartworm is still an issue in Northern California. We see it more commonly in the Central Valley, but even in our corner of the bay area where transmission is limited by a larger number of pets on heartworm preventative, we still see it occasionally. It is important to remember that dogs are most often inflicted with heartworm disease, but cats are vulnerable as well. Your West Valley veterinarian will help you develop the best plan in preventing this disease in your pets.
Heartworm Prevention: While heartworm disease is possible, it can be dangerous as an animal must be kept kenneled and quiet for several weeks to prevent the dying worms from forming an embolis (clot) in the bloodstream. Prevention (killing the larval stage) is much safer and easier.
Ask your West Valley veterinarian to help you choose the best preventative plan for you and your pet!