This month we focus upon developing a 2019 wellness roadmap for your pet. While we’re always focused upon the health of your pet, year-end is the ideal time to plan for an exceptional year to come.

Schedule Your Pet’s Annual Exam
Probably the single most important factor in maintaining the wellness of your pet is scheduling their annual examination. During the exam, we’ll review your pet from head to toe — literally. We’ll review their eyes looking for any signs of cataracts, how well their eyes adjust to light and their interest and ability to follow movement. We’ll also peer into their ears looking for any obstructions, infections or wax build-up. Then, we’ll examine their gums for cuts and color and their teeth looking for chips, cracks or excessive plaque or tartar.


Pet Wellness
Moving down, we’ll feel their coat, muscular and skeletal structure — feeling for any masses or abnormalities and paying close attention to any sensitivity-based reactions particularly from their legs or feet. We’ll listen carefully to their breathing and heart using a stethoscope. And we’ll review their past and required immunizations — keeping them healthy and “legal” (towns require current rabies vaccinations before issuing pet licenses). We may also take blood or fecal samples to ensure your pet is free of heartworm, parasites and is healthy along multiple important chemical benchmarks.

And then we’ll ask you questions about your pet’s health — do you have any concerns or do you notice any changes — no matter how small? During our discussion, we welcome any and all questions. And we’ll spend as much time as required to fully answer — including all follow-up questions.

The annual exam is among the most important health and wellness activities you can undertake for your pet. It enables us to identify latent issues before they become severe health challenges. And we conduct your pet’s review using the documented histories from prior exams to help identify any changing trends. As you consider your New Year’s Resolutions, please place scheduling your pet’s annual exam at or near the top of this important family list.

Monitor Your Pet’s Activity Level
As part of the annual examination, we’ll also weigh your pet. While a change in your pet’s weight is an important indicator, it may not fully account for your pet’s increasing or waning activity levels. For young pets, we’ll share the level of activity required for your breed and some of the activities you should consider — and avoid.

For older pet’s we’ll suggest ways to engage your pet — keeping their mind and body active. Regular high-energy walks and play sessions with a favorite toy, ball or frisbee can often help keep the respiratory, circulatory and muscular systems in top shape — and allow your pet to sleep well. Ideally, each pet should have at least 30 minutes of activity every day which includes at least 10 minutes of elevated activity.

Review What Your Pet Eats
With the holidays upon us, this is a perfect time to remind everyone, including our pets, to “eat right.” Less is definitely more, and not all foods are equal. Please limit table scraps as they tend to possess higher levels of salt, fat, and calories than pet food — or even pet treats.


Pets Eating Treats
During the holiday and all year long, please do not give your pets: chocolate and foods with caffeine, grapes or raisins, nuts, milk and dairy items, garlic or onions, salty foods (including snacks) and any food containing artificial sweeteners — particularly Xylitol.

When giving or receiving pet treats for the holidays, please review the ingredients to minimize any potential dietary concerns.

Re-Evaluate Your Pet’s Health Risks
As healthcare professionals, one of the greatest concerns we have is the emergence of canine influenza. Given dogs have no natural immunity to this highly contagious disease, it’s vital that you assess the potential risk of exposure for your dog. If your pet travels, plays with others, frequents parks and other locales where affected pets may visit, or is boarded in a kennel then you should consider vaccinating your dog against this health risk. Prevention requires two separate vaccinations several weeks apart, and the vaccination can help reduce the duration and severity of the disease if your pet is exposed.

Also emerging as a concern across the country is the rise of a variety of tickborne diseases. So, if your pet spends anytime outdoors, please ensure they are protected with a topical or chewable preventative medicine.

Develop a Plan to Spend More Time Together
If you would like to give your pet the best possible holiday gift, find a way to spend more time with them. In our busy lives, this often means changing routines — visiting a park together before work, arriving home before sundown ensuring there is time for a brisk walk, and undertaking fun activities as a complete family during the weekend.


Pet Playing
Spending time with your pet will enrich your life and help extend that of your pet.

Contact Us
We encourage you to schedule your pet’s 2019 wellness exam with us — before the excitement of the holidays fully take hold.


Kirkwood Veterinarians

Everyone at Kirkwood Animal Hospital extends our warmest holiday wishes to all!