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Preventative Care

Preventative care prevents disease, prolongs life, and promotes vitality. That's why it comes first at Harbor Animal Hospital. It is the best medicine for a long, happy, and heathy life, and a gift to your pet!

Rather than waiting for disease and illness to develop, we focus on protecting your pet against preventable conditions prior to onset. This approach helps us keep patients their absolute healthiest selves, and by your side for as many years as possible.

With customized wellness plans designed to meet the unique healthcare needs of puppies, kittens, adult pets, and senior pets, we are able to maximize your companion's health during each unique life stage.

Recommended for all pets under our care:

  • Semi-annual wellness exams
  • Required & lifestyle-dependent vaccinations
  • Spay/Neuter procedure
  • Annual bloodwork & lab tests
  • Microchipping
  • Parasite Testing & continuous parasite control
  • Dental care

 

Wellness Exams

Pets have much shorter lifespans than humans. This means a lot can happen in six months, including serious medical concerns. Routine, nose-to-tail physical exams allow us to monitor health trends and take necessary steps to maintain or improve your pet's overall wellness.

Wellness exams at Harbor Animal Hospital are comprehensive. One of our doctors will check the physical condition of your pet's eyes, ears, nose, oral cavity, skin, coat, nails, and paws. We'll also listen to the heart and lungs, feel the abdominal region, joints, muscles, and lymph nodes, and record body weight. Expect to also discuss vaccinations, bloodwork, parasite testing and prevention, and dental care with one of our veterinarians during your pet's visit.

Semi-annual wellness exams are strongly recommended for all pets under our care. This twice-a-year recommendation is especially important for puppies, kittens, and senior pets, since they are more prone to infections and age-related health concerns.

Comprehensive care is a hallmark of the services we provide. For this reason, bloodwork is strongly encouraged during wellness visits. This will provide our clinical team with a complete picture of your pet's health, inside and out.

 

Sick Visits

Pets cannot tell us that they don't feel well, but they can let us know through physical signs and behavioral changes. If you notice signs of illness in your pet or if your pet seems off, we urge you to schedule a visit sooner rather than later.

The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner treatment begins, and the sooner your pet will feel well again. That's why our goal is to make efficient and accurate diagnoses for our patients. First, one of our veterinarians will look for outward signs of concern during a thorough nose-to-tail physical examination. Further testing may be needed for us to fully understand what's ailing your pet. There's simply so much we cannot see with our eyes alone.

We recommend beginning treatment as soon as a diagnosis is made to increase the likelihood of treatment success. Treatment plans will always be discussed with you first.

Have a sick pet at home? You may notice these common signs of illness: vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, decreased activity, urinating more or less frequently, coughing, itchy skin, hair loss, stiffness, lameness, and difficulty getting up from a resting position.

 

Vaccinations

Pets come in contact with life-threatening conditions in their day-to-day lives. This is an inevitable truth, which is why up-to-date vaccinations are a key part of preventative care. For the benefit of your pet, our team will provide timely reminders so your pet has continual protection without any interruptions.

Core vaccines are recommended for all pets, whereas non-core vaccines are lifestyle-dependent and based on your pet’s species, breed, age, and lifestyle. A vaccine schedule will be created to meet your pet's unique health needs, so your pet will never be over-vaccinated.

Core Vaccines

  • Canine: Distemper (DA2P), Parvovirus (CPV), Canine Influenza, Rabies*
  • Feline: FVRCP, Rabies*

Non-core Vaccines

  • Canine: Lyme, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Canine Influenza
  • Feline: FeLV

*Rabies is required by Illinois State Law

 

Parasite Testing & Prevention

Fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites are more than pests, they are a threat to your pet's health. Prevention is as simple as annual fecal tests and year-round parasite control.

Preventative products vary, so it’s important to choose the right product for your pet's needs. We’ll help you choose a pill, treat, or topical treatment that will effectively prevent parasites in your pet. Certain parasites can infect people too, which means it'’'s in the best interest of your entire family to keep your pet continuously protected.

Fleas

  • External parasites that bite the skin
  • Cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, dermatitis, tapeworms, and Bartonella
  • In serious cases, flea infestation can lead to anemia and death
  • Timely treatment can be addressed by medication or adjustments to diet and lifestyle
  • Tip: Check your pet's skin and coat during daily grooming

Ticks

  • External parasites that bite the skin
  • Cause skin irritation, discomfort, and fever
  • In serious cases, ticks transmit Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Bartonella
  • Highly prevalent in wooded areas and humid climates
  • Timely treatment can be addressed by medication or adjustments to diet and lifestyle
  • Tip: Check your pet's skin and coat during daily grooming, especially after spending time outdoors

Heartworms

  • Transmitted by mosquito bites
  • Cause irreversible damage to vital bodily systems, like internal organs and blood vessels
  • Symptoms are minimal until disease progression is severe
  • Common symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, weight loss, fatigue, and a swollen abdomen
  • Heartworm disease is highly fatal
  • Treatment is long, painful, and costly
  • Dogs are most susceptible
  • Prevention recommendations: annual testing and year-round preventative medications

Intestinal Parasites

  • Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms reside in the GI tract
  • Feed on the host's nutrients
  • Kittens and puppies are most at risk
  • Adult cats and dogs are easily infected without continuous prevention
  • Zoonotic, which means they are transmissible from pets to people
  • Prevention Recommendations: annual or semi-annual fecal tests and year-round preventative medication

 

Microchipping

Microchips add an additional layer of security should your pet ever be lost. This form of permanent pet identification is recommended for all pets, even indoor pets. Accidents happen. It's best to be prepared.

Insertion is a fast and painless process. A microchip is as small as a grain of rice, and easily inserted between the shoulder blades in a similar fashion as a routine vaccination. If your lost pet is found and taken to a veterinary hospital or animal shelter, their unique microchip will be scanned for your contact information.

Make note to update your pet's registered microchip if you ever change your home address or phone number. For complete identification protection, we recommend collars and ID tags, too.

 

Nutritional Counseling & Weight Management

As a pet owner, you have complete control over your pet's food and portion control. A nutritious diet and daily exercise will keep your pet active and at an ideal body weight, as well as heighten quality of life and life expectancy.

Knowing what's best for your pet nutritionally isn't always easy. We're here to help with:

  • Everyday health and wellness advice
  • Portion control recommendations
  • Solutions for pets living with food allergies and chronic conditions
  • Weight-loss advice

With pet obesity on the rise, diet and exercise are paramount to your pet's wellness care. Ideally, a healthy lifestyle begins when a pet is a puppy or kitten. But, it's never too soon or too late to get your pet on track if they are overweight, obese, or experiencing lifestyle-related conditions due to inadequate diet and exercise.

Nutrient-dense diets and regular physical activity prevents, or aids in the treatment of diabetes, obesity, arthritis and joint pain, thyroid disorders, food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, heart disease, and more.

 

Behavioral Counseling

Is your pet exhibiting undesirable behavior at home? If so, this may be your pet's way of telling you something isn't quite right. First, we'll rule out any potential underlying health concerns.

Consider the following medical-related behavioral issues:

  • Litterbox incontinence may be the result of a UTI, bladder stones, or kidney disease
  • Destructiveness or excessive barking may be the result of anxiety

If your pet's behavior is not medically related, we will offer training tips and advice. In some cases, we may recommend a professional pet trainer to effectively resolve the behavioral issue.

 

Puppy & Kitten Care

Are you a new pet parent? How exciting! With great responsibility comes great reward. Be the best pet owner for your new pet and have a healthy friend by your side for years to come.

Step #1 is always to schedule a wellness visit for your new pet. Puppies and kittens do not have fully developed immune systems, which means beginning preventative care practices right away is key to disease prevention and a healthy first year of life. During your pet's first wellness visit, we'll assess their overall physical condition, start on a vaccine schedule, and run various diagnostic tests to ensure your new pet is free of disease, illness, and parasites.

One of our veterinarians will cover all of the important health bases, including:

  • The importance of routine wellness visits
  • Required & lifestyle dependent vaccinations
  • Spay/neuter procedure (recommended for all dogs and cats!)
  • Parasite prevention, fecal tests & deworming
  • Dental care
  • Microchip insertion
  • Proper nutrition & physical activity
  • Healthy grooming habits
  • Training & socialization

Have any questions about new pet care? Let us know! We are here to guide you in being the absolute best pet parent for your new companion.

 

Senior Wellness

Seven years of age is typically when pets enter their golden years and need a little extra TLC to stay healthy, comfortable, and active. Since the immune systems of senior pets gradually decline with age, it's important to visit us at least twice a year and let us know right away if you observe any behavioral or health changes at home.

To prevent, manage, or treat age-related conditions, more frequent health screenings are encouraged. This way, we can closely monitor changing health trends and address health concerns during early stages. Common age-related conditions include arthritis, diabetes, thyroid issues, progressive organ dysfunction, dental disease, and cancer, among others.

Special Wellness Recommendations for Senior Pets:

  • Semi-annual wellness exams allow us to follow any health changes in your senior pet, which is especially important because age-related conditions can develop in a short period of time
  • Bloodwork detects anemia and infections, as well as age-related health concerns like diabetes, liver disease, kidney failure, and more
  • X-rays pinpoint areas of concern that may be unidentifiable with physical exams or bloodwork, like arthritis and cancer
  • Urinalysis gauges your pet's overall health condition, and is commonly used to test for urinary tract infections, diabetes, and liver disease

Behavior changes are common in senior pets. Expect these changes, be patient, and consider adapting your home and routine to help keep your senior pet as comfortable as possible through the aging process. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Feed a nutritious diet to prevent weight gain and preserve muscle
  • Continue daily playtime, but play gentler and in shorter amounts of time
  • Provide nonslip surfaces like carpeting or mats, especially for larger dogs
  • Consider providing steps to sleeping surfaces, like the bed or couch
  • Switch to a low sided litter box for cats
  • Groom your cat more often, especially in hard-to-reach spots