Helpful Appointment Tips for Your Pet Sweethearts


by Dr. Barbara Lewis

Understanding why we make in-person appointments with your family veterinarian for most pet issues is detailed below along with suggestions on how we can collectively work toward achieving the best quality of health for your pet.

At Braden River Animal Hospital and North River Animal Hospital, we want to make your visit with us flow as easy as possible for both you and your pet(s).

Here are a few helpful suggestions that will enable us to best serve you and your pet…our Number One Priority!

Annual Exam:

Let’s begin with the annual exam. This exam is important in detecting potential problems and disease early. It’s important to remember that animals hide disease and age 5-7 times faster than people so early detection is critical!

The veterinarian will conduct a complete hands on physical exam and will discuss with you which, if any, vaccinations are appropriate for your pet. Core vaccines are those that all animals should receive to protect them against potentially lethal diseases of global significance Rabies, Distemper, and Parvovirus. The use of non-core vaccines in certain animals is dictated by geographical location, lifestyle and exposure risk. Annually, all dogs should be heartworm tested despite being on heartworm preventive and all dogs and cats receive fecal checks to evaluate for zoonotic (transmissible to people from animals) intestinal parasites. If you will be taking your pet to the groomer, trainer, traveling, or boarding facility please let us know as this may determine which additional non-core vaccines your pet may require

If your pet is on medications for chronic conditions such as hypothyroidism, heart disease or arthritis please be sure to have the name, milligrams and dosing of your pet’s medication.

Other important aspects of the annual exam include the evaluation of the following:

  1. Has your pet gained or lost weight? This could be an indicator of disease.
  2. Has there been any coughing, sneezing, vomiting, or diarrhea?
  3. Any changes in their coat?
  4. How well does your pet walk and run. Has there been any changes in musculature which can be an indicator of arthritis, joint problems or cancer?
  5. Heart and lungs are auscultated listening for abnormal arrhythmia, breathing patterns or congestion
  6. The abdomen is palpated for any abnormalities
  7. Do the eyes and ears look clean and clear
  8. We also conduct an exam of the mouth evaluating for pain, loose teeth, plaque, tartar and/or disease
  9. Are the Lymph nodes enlarged?

Bringing a Stool Sample From Your Pet Can Be Helpful for the Annual Exam:

If possible, please bring in a small fecal sample from your cat or dog to the appointment so that we can check for parasites and other disease during the annual exam and for all new puppy/kitten visits. For these visits, collecting a fresh sample and placing it in a small Ziploc bag is sufficient. For cats you can collect a fresh sample from the litterbox.

A History of Your Pet’s Records, Medical History and Diet:

Write down or photograph your pet’s food to help us obtain an accurate history of what foods and feeding schedules your pets have been on. This information should also include any supplements and medications. It is even OK to bring in the medication or take pictures for thoroughness. If any vaccines have been given elsewhere, please try to bring the paperwork with you so we can update the medical records.

If your pet is being seen for an issue, for example urinating inappropriately, you can collect a urine sample before the exam and place in a clean, plastic container to bring to the exam. The urine sample should be a few hours old and can be kept refrigerated if over 2 hours until being dropped off. If you do not have a sample, please do not let your pet urinate in the parking lot on the way in to the practice as we will “lose” our sample that will aide in diagnosing what core problem may be present.

Helping Your Pet with Anxiety Before the Appointment:

If your pet has anxiety and you think he or she could benefit from a mild tranquilizer for the visit, please call us ahead of time so we can discuss treatment options. If your pet doesn’t do well around other pets or people, it’s OK to call from the parking lot to let us know your here and a technician will come and get you once we are ready for your appointment. This often helps reduce anxiety, for both pets and parents.

If your pet is coming in for bloodwork, please confirm if your pet needs to be fasted or not. This will help us to achieve to most accurate laboratory results possible.

We hope these helpful tips provide you with extra guidance when preparing your dog, cat, puppy or kitten for their annual exam. If you have questions about your pet’s upcoming appointment, please feel free to call either office to speak to one of our team members. The number for Braden River Animal Hospital is 941-745-1513 and North River Animal Hospital is 941-845-4448.

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