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Preventive Health Care For Dogs

What Goes Into A Dog Health Preventive Care Regimen

At Metairie Small Animal Hospital, we believe that a sound preventive health care regimen is the easiest and most effective way to keep your dog healthy and happy. Many canine diseases are easily preventable and most can be effectively treated and cured if detected early enough. However, if allowed to develop and progress unchecked, many diseases can quickly become difficult and expensive to treat, and in some cases incurable. Therefore, we strongly encourage every dog owner to take a proactive approach to preventive care.

Our comprehensive dog wellness programs typically consist of:

  • Education by our staff and various resources we can make available to you (ie doctors, techs, handouts and information available here on our website)
  • Things you can do at home to support weight loss, diet, dental care, etc.

Our goal is to partner with you to ensure optimal health for your dog. A healthy and happy canine companion will remain a loyal and loving member of your family for many years to come.


Your Dog's Annual Physical Exam

Taking an active role in a dog wellness program begins with visits to the veterinarian for periodic physical exams. The physical exam is a comprehensive assessment of your dog's health. Because your dog cannot talk, we rely on the owners to provide us with key information to help us to assess your dog's health. Our veterinarians will ask you specific questions and your answers will help guide the examination to assess overall health and reveal developing health issues that can easily go unnoticed. Based on age, health status and pre-existing conditions, some dogs require a physical exam annually, and others semi-annually (every six months). During the physical exam, your veterinarian will review various aspects of your dog's health, including:

After the physical exam, our veterinarian will discuss their findings with you and what, if anything, should be done to keep your dog in optimal health.


The Effect Of Proper Nutrition On Dog Wellness

Overall dog health and quality of life depend heavily on the amount and type of food consumed on a daily basis. Low-quality dog food, and treats high in fat or sugar can negatively affect your canine companion physically, emotionally and mentally. This is why dogs of all ages and life stages can benefit from a sound nutrition program, including:

  • Puppies: Generally speaking, puppies may need increased frequency of feeding and more proteins and fats
  • Adult Dogs: Concern for weight management, breed specific and lifestyle specific nutrition choices
  • Senior Dogs: Many senior dogs have health concerns that may require specific nutritional choices

It is important to understand that the above bullet points are meant to demonstrate that the nutritional needs of dogs do change through different stages of life. However, it is also important to understand that the above bullet points are not meant to serve as the basis for the nutritional program for your dog. There are many factors that must be considered when creating a nutritional plan for a dog, including breed, age, health conditions and moreÉ This is why you should discuss the nutritional needs of your dog with a veterinarian at your next appointment.

Other considerations when choosing a diet include:

  • The best canned or kibble diet for the breed, age and activity level
  • Items ok to add to your dog's food - i.e some cooked veggies
  • Supplements - what you may be using and what our vets want you to consider using
  • Healthy dog snacks
  • What to avoid feeding your dog

Many clients are afraid or embarrassed to discuss what they feed their dog with a veterinarian. You should always be open and honest with your veterinarian about what you are actually feeding your dog. We are happy to discuss any supplements or treats you may be using and it will help us have a complete picture of your dog's health. This is a great topic for discussion that can allow us to partner with you and take a team approach to optimizing your dog's health. Some of your "people" food may even be a great addition to your dog's diet. However, let us help you to determine the type and amount that is best.

For more information on dog nutrition, visit the Dog Nutrition Page.


Dog Dental Care 

Your dog's oral health is key for maintaining overall health. Dental disease is generally gradual and dogs adjust to living with oral pain and will not show signs they are uncomfortable. It is difficult for owners to know when their dog has dental disease or oral pain. For this reason, an important part of the physical exam is an oral exam. During this part of the exam, we will look at the teeth, tongue and oral cavity. The unfortunate reality is that periodontal disease affects most dogs by age 4-5.

Some of the possible dental conditions which can affect your dog include:

  • Malocclusion
  • Tooth Loss/broken teeth
  • Mouth Sores and Ulcers
  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontal Disease

This is why periodic and thorough dental care is essential to your dog's overall health. A thorough oral cleaning is something you should trust to your veterinarian every 6-12 months, but brushing can be performed on your canine companion in the comfort of your home. You can also help facilitate good dog health by providing toys and treats formulated to help strengthen and/or clean your dog's teeth and gums.

For more information on dental care for dogs, visit the Dog Dental Care Page.


Protecting Your Dog From Fleas And Ticks

Fleas and ticks are a great nuisance to your dog and family. These pesky insects cause discomfort and can carry disease to your dog and possibly to your family. While these parasites are common, it is our goal that your pet never has to experiences the irritation fleas and ticks cause. We can work with you to set up a preventive plan to avoid infestation of your pet and your home. We will help to customize a plan for your dog based upon the dog's lifestyle, number and type of pets in the household. There are so many flea and tick products on the market. They are not all created equal and some are not effective and even dangerous. Our doctors and staff are very knowledgeable about these parasites and the best way to prevent them. Part of the annual physical exam is developing and managing the best flea and tick treatment plan for your dog.

For more information on flea and tick prevention for dogs, visit the Dog Flea and Tick Page.


What You Should Know About Dog Vaccinations

Vaccinations are a foundational and critically important part of the preventive care plan. The vaccinations we recommend will prevent diseases that, while not common, are still a serious threat to the health, longevity, and quality of life of your dog. The only reason they are not common is because of the excellent vaccines we have to protect your dog and hopefully the rest of the dogs that your dog will come into contact with. When owners stop vaccinating, we see a resurgence of these very deadly diseases.

Generally, a vaccine protocol consists of a series of immunizations given to your dog as a puppy, boosters at one year and then periodically throughout its lifetime. 

Although the rabies vaccine is the only vaccination currently required by law in most states, we strongly recommend making sure your canine companion is up to date on all of its core and non-core vaccinations. Your veterinarian can help determine a vaccination schedule as part of your dog health program based specifically on the lifestyle, geographic location and pre-existing medical conditions of your dog.

For more information on vaccinations, visit the Dog Vaccines Page.


Heartworm Prevention For Dogs

Heartworm is another very important core of preventative healthcare for all dogs. Heartworm is a deadly but completely and easily preventable disease. Heartworms spread through dogs via bites from infected mosquitos. Living in LA, mosquitoes are present throughout the spring, summer and early fall months and can even live inside during the winter. For this reason, we recommend prevention 12 months of the year.

There are a number of medications that are highly effective and commonly used across the veterinary industry. We will help you determine which product is the safest, most cost-effective for you, and most effective for your dog.

For more information on heartworm prevention for dogs, visit the Dog Heartworm Page.


Intestinal Parasites In Dogs

Canine intestinal parasites, commonly referred to as "worms," are one of the most common conditions seen in both young puppies and adult dogs. Dogs can contract worms by:

  • Ingesting eggs (most commonly stepping in feces and licking paws later)
  • Passed from the mother during gestation
  • Consuming an intermediate host like a flea or a small animal

Furthermore, some worms can infect human beings, making intestinal parasites a health issue for dogs and humans alike. Our veterinary team can prescribe a preventive program to help your dog remain parasite free, and implement a treatment program to fight off any existing infestation.


Puppy Care

One of the greatest joys in life is having a cuddly, cute puppy to have and hold, but it can also be stressful for people who are unsure of how to properly care for a puppy. It is important for you to come to see us as soon as you get your puppy so we can set you on the right path as soon as possible both with preventive care and puppy training. Plan to spend at least one hour on your first visit. During this first visit, we will give your puppy a complete physical exam, update all necessary vaccines, provide deworming medication and spend time educating you on your puppy's needs.

Our puppy health care services include:

  • Periodic Wellness Exams
  • Vaccinations
  • Puppy Nutrition
  • Behavior/Potty Training
  • Planning for Spaying and Neutering

For more information on puppy care, visit the Puppy Care Page.


Senior Dog Care Screen

Having a senior dog can be relaxing and rewarding. Most senior dogs have settled into a gentle routine and require less exercise. We love senior dogs for their calm demeanor and the elderly wisdom they can bring to our lives. It is our goal to help your senior dog age gracefully and comfortably.

At Metairie Small Animal Hospital, we understand that the experience of caring for older dogs can be a tremendously rewarding one that enhances and enriches the lives of dogs themselves, as well as their human caretakers. Therefore, we offer a full array of senior dog health care services, including:

  • Senior Dog Wellness Exams
  • Nutritional Consultation
  • Body Condition Evaluations
  • Dental Care
  • Pain assessments and pain management
  • Exercise/Activity Recommendations
  • Vaccinations


Ear Cleaning


Video Transcription:

Are you trying to train your dog with no success? Maybe he just can't hear you and he need his ears cleaned. That's probably not the problem but there are some true indications that let you know that your dogs need their ears cleaned, may have an infection in the ears, or generally seeing redness in the ears, such as seeing some debris buildup in the ears. Also, usually dogs that are having problems will have some head shaking or ear scratching. They will let you know their ears are bothering them.

I'm Dr. Gordy, I'm here with my assistant Brett and this is Jeffrey, who's going to help us demonstrate today. When you bring your dog to the vet, or at home when you're generally cleaning, the first thing that we'll usually do is make a swab of the ear. Here, we'll take a little Q-tip. I'm going to try and get a little of that debris so that we can look at it under a slide. Labs are a common breed to have ear problems. As you can see, we have some brown wax built up there and not too bad on this side either.

We're going to put that on a slide and look at that later, and find out if Jeffrey needs any medications. The next thing that we'll do is look with our otoscope down at the tympanic bulla, so that's going to be down inside the ear. We're going to take a peek - just make sure there's no grass or anything else stuck in the ear that could be causing a problem, or take a look at that bulla on the inside and make sure there's no swelling or any other issues going inside that ear. Jeffery's ear has a nice, nice clean opening. We can see all the way down to that eardrum, which is the tympanic membrane, and that looks beautiful.

First thing you're going to want to do is to get a good ear wash. We use Mal-A-Ket Plus. There's a lot of different products out there. We really like Mal-A-Ket because it is also an antimicrobial and antifungal so it can help with mild infections. First thing you're going to want to do is get your pet in a nice position, somewhere where he's not - not his dog bed where he's usually very comfortable. A table's nice if you have an assistant like Brett who can hold him. 

First, I'm going to hold this ear up, and we're going to just pour some solution in that ear. I'm trying to fill up the canal as much as I can. I put my thumb right behind the ear base, and we try and work it in. A lot of times, you can hear some good swishing sounds going on. What we're trying to do is break up the debris off the ear canal. Dogs ears, unlike ours, will go down, and then it makes a 90-degree turn, so we have a vertical canal and then a horizontal canal. To get down to that horizontal canal, you really have to do a lot of rubbing and massaging to try and break that debris up, debris off of the canal wall.

After we feel like we've done a good job there, we have some cotton balls ready for us, he's already ready to shake that in. With a cotton ball, you can just rub and go down as deep as you can in that canal and try and wipe out as much wax as we can. Again, since their canal makes that 90-degree turn, as long as we're just going in deeper, the cotton ball, you shouldn't have any concern about hitting the eardrum on the inside.

Sometimes we'll go ahead and reapply with a little solution to help us break things up a little bit more. We'll do the same thing. It's important to and get into all the little nooks and crannies of this inner ear pinna, you can see all these little ridges and lumps that wax buildup can get stuck in. So Jeffrey's ears aren't too bad at all. We're going to go around and do our other side. Just lifting the ear up and pouring in some solution until that fills the canal. Doing our same, gentle massage. Hear some good swishing noises so we know it's doing its job. Then just going in with our cotton ball and trying to get out as much debris as we can. If your vet prescribes medications, if there is an ear infection, you would want to clean this ear out really good first, so that the medication that you instill after can make good contact with the wall. It has to make good contact with the skin for the medication to work.

We're going to do the same gentle massage, go as deep as we can with our cotton ball. Rub out and getting all the nooks and crannies. Jeffrey's a great patient. We're going to take a look at that slide and see there's any need for medication, and that's how you clean your dog's ears. It should be done, depending on the dog, up to every week. Sometimes dogs need it more frequently, sometimes you can get away with every couple of weeks or every month. Just depends on your individual pet and how their ears are doing and how many problems they're having. Routine cleaning can certainly help avoid trips to the vet and other medications.


Pain Management

No dog should be allowed to suffer when their pain can be easily managed. Our pain management services can significantly improve the quality of life for many dogs who are experiencing pain associated with a wide variety of conditions. Our veterinarians will work with you and your dog to develop a unique pain management plan that best serves his or her individual needs. Our dog health pain management plans may include one or more of the following modalities:

  • Medication
  • Complementary Treatments
  • Laser Therapy
  • Massage
  • Lifestyle Recommendations
  • Raised Food Bowls
  • Softer Bedding
  • More Exercise


Scheduling An Appointment To Develop A Preventive Care Regimen For Your Dog

Scheduling an appointment to develop a preventive care regimen for your dog is as easy as picking up the phone, or filling out the contact form on our website. Our staff is here to help make your trip to the vet as easy as possible for you, and enjoyable your canine companion!

Schedule A Veterinary Appointment For Your Dog Today!

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