Yesterday afternoon I had an opening in my pet sitting schedule and promptly filled it with a pet taxi appointment for my own two pups. Destination: Our Veterinarian for the pups’ annual wellness screens.
Instead of getting paid for the ride, however, I ended up paying for this one myself. $292 to be exact.
Why Do My Fit Dogs Need An Annual Wellness Screen?
Why pay this much for a vet visit even though Missy & Buzz appear to be in great health?
The answer is simple: Peace of mind. I take the pups for their annual check-ups to ensure that their health is maintained beyond what my eyes can see.
What MY Eyes Can See
Here’s what my eyes CAN indeed see: I can see that both pups have visible waistlines, so they’re not overweight. I can see that their coats are full & shiny, that their eyes are bright & clear, that their ears are clean & without any build-up, so they’re not suffering from any allergies. I can see that their teeth are clean, so they’re not suffering from dental disease.
Beyond what my eyes can see, I KNOW that we exercise every single day, that I feed a balanced raw diet consisting of 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, and 5% other organ, and that I boost their immune systems with natural antioxidants.
You may wonder which antioxidants I use? Find out more in last week’s post How To Boost Your Dog’s Immune System With These 3 Natural Antioxidants
Buzz Getting Weighed While Focusing On His Chuck-It Ball
What MY Eyes CAN’T See
However, here’s what my eyes CAN NOT see: I can’t look inside their veins and tell if the ratio of different cells is normal or not (red blood cells/white blood cells, platelets). The annual wellness screen includes a CBC (complete blood count) which checks for abnormalities in the blood.
When Missy underwent her chemotherapy sessions after her thyroid cancer diagnosis, a CBC had to be done before each chemotherapy session to ensure that enough white blood cells were present.
I also can’t listen to the pups’ hearts & lungs. Our vet, however, does by auscultating Missy & Buzz and checking for abnormal heart rate & rhythm as well as breath sounds.
Another part of the exam I’m not qualified for is how to palpate the pups’ legs, abdomen, & lymph nodes for any abnormalities. Our vet knows exactly how to do that & what to feel for.
The wellness screen also includes a heartworm test, lyme test, and ehrlichia test as symptoms for these diseases are not necessarily obvious. If left untreated, they can progress into a chronic infection. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes, and ticks are responsible for lyme & ehrlichia.
We don’t have the test results yet, but our Vet Dr. Schaller was very happy with the pups’ body condition. One of the first things she pointed out was that she spent the vast majority of the day letting pet owners know their pets are overweight, and that it’s refreshing to see that Missy & Buzz are clearly NOT.
She also pointed out that both pups have very nice abs 🙂 This isn’t the first time she’s told me this, but it’s definitely something I’ll never tire of hearing. After all, it’s confirmation from a professional that our daily exercise routine is working!
Dr. Schaller was also very pleased with the pups’ white, clean teeth, especially Missy’s. She did notice a little tartar on ONE of Buzz’s teeth which is located directly underneath the molar which had to be extracted last year after breaking from chewing on a hard beef bone.
The molar no longer being there might have caused the tartar build-up on the tooth in question. I will need to pay specific attention to this one and brush it again (I stopped brushing the pups’ teeth once we began feeding a raw diet with meaty raw bones – they act as natural tooth brushes).
Side note: According to the APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention), 52.7% of American Dogs are overweight, which translates into the fact that more than half of all American Dogs are going to have a shorter life span than they could have.
On average, obesity shaves off 2 years from a dog’s life expectancy, can cause diabetes & kidney disease, osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease), high blood pressure, as well as certain types of cancer.
In addition to the wellness screen, the pups were also due for their intestinal parasite screens (a poop sample is checked for parasites) and their bordetella vaccines (aka kennel cough).
Now, the only reason why I went ahead with these vaccinations is the fact that I’ll have to board the pups within the next 6 weeks, and that the boarding facility requires proof of vaccination against bordetella.
Neither our vet nor the vet next to the boarding place offer titer tests for bordetella, so I’ll have to check with holistic veterinary offices to see if they do (none are close-by).
When doing a titer test, a dog’s blood is checked for the level of antibodies against a certain disease. If the level is sufficient, there is no need to revaccinate for the specific disease.
I’m very interested in this type of testing as over-vaccinating is directly linked to auto-immune diseases in dogs (and cancer in cats). Stay tuned for more on this topic once I’ve done a little more research!
Oh, before I forget to mention, I did DECLINE the Lepto vaccine refresher for now (the last Lepto vaccine was administered almost exactly one year ago). I want to speak with a holistic veterinarian on the topic of (over)vaccinating before I have any more vaccinations pumped into the pups’ bodies. So definitely stay tuned for more!
Tired Pups Towards The End Of Their Wellness Screen!
Does your pup get yearly check-ups? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!
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Yup, we sure do get yearly checkups! Great reminder for everyone!
Thanks Diane, I had no doubt that Rocco is getting his wellness exams on a regular basis!!
My big boy bruce had his yearly exam last week. He gets a yearly cbc and cmp, because he is on daily meds, and I am always reassured with normal bloodwork. The vet and tech both commented while drawing his blood (no small feat) that he is solid muscle, which made me happy.
Glad your pups are so healthy! I love seeing lean, fit dogs!
I do, too, Rebekah, there’s just something about being able to see a well defined waistline 🙂
Go, Bruce! Apparently vets don’t get to see fit dogs on a regular basis, which is a real bummer.
Yes yes yes!! We always do a yearly!
And find a vet you love and trust. We did a ton of research to find our vet and she’s perfect for the girls. I wish more pet owners loved their dogs like we do!!5
Hehe, I had a feeling you do yearly check-ups for your pug babies 🙂
Yes, definitely find a vet you’re comfortable with & that your pups are comfortable with as well. Missy & Buzz love Dr. Schaller and handed out tons of puppy kisses to both her and the new head nurse Tammy they hadn’t seen before. Always a great sign!
Definitely share your wish.
Our pets (dogs, cat, tortoise) always get a yearly checkup. Our rabbit goes in for a check up too, but it is more like every 2 years.
Awesome – way to go!! I just got our test results today & everything came back negative for both pups 🙂
I have to get Cocoa her kennel cough vaccine because she goes to daycare sometimes and they require it every 6 months and when I called my vet they require a physical every 6 months. I think this is excessive and think 1 year is good. For a healthy dog. I do not like when it seems as if they are trying to make more money for looking at her teeth and ears, basically. There are no blood tests or stool samples involved so I may have to look around. It is important to find someone who loves and really cares for our sweet pups!!
Same here, the kennel cough vaccine is also due every 6 months. I read & heard that it only protects against 2 strains out of a plethora, so it’s really not as effective as traditional vets make it seem to be. I found this article from Mercola which provides a great summary on the topic of bordetella vaccines:
Yep our dogs have annual exams. Today Thunder went in for part of his. Also the cat for vaccines. We are having a dental done on Thunder because he has a tooth that looks odd so we want it checked. They do xrays as part of the dental at our vet now so we can know for sure if there is any issue with the root. He will be 10 in March so I would rather have it taken care of now instead of a year or two from now. He had blood work and heartworm check ahead of that. We will get him Lepto in March when it is due because we still expect he will do field work and the kennel cough vaccine since he is around other dogs. I also need to take a stool sample… I had the cat and Thunder and only two hands so I will do that later. Freighter already had his exam and vaccines. The vet was pretty impressed with how solid and muscled he is, but then he is a working dog. Storm will go in March. When you have three and a cat it can be a production….lol.
I have no doubt that your vet was thrilled with Freighter’s muscles!! It’s a shame that a fit body condition has become a rarity in so many dogs. Definitely sounds like you have your hands full with all your pets – chapeau to you for taking such great care of all of them.
I hope that Thunder’s tooth turns out to be ok – are you getting some kind of discount on the dental work? Just wondering since February is National Dental Health Month. Buzz’s molar extraction happened last year in February, and I guess we got somewhat lucky that our vet had a 10% off deal for all dental exams/procedures.
All our tests came back negative (Lepto, Heartworm, Intestinal Parasites), so that’s always a small reason to celebrate. We’re keeping our paws crossed for good results for Storm as well 🙂
I scheduled Thunder’s dental for March. Fits my schedule better. Clear tests are reason to celebrate for sure.
I can relate to rescheduling. Had to do it twice before we were finally able to go in for our wellness screens. My schedule has just been crazy lately.