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Ashland Animal Hospital Blog

"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."

Tiger Mosquito - HearwormHeartworm is a parasite that is passed to dogs from the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquito injects baby worms (larvae) into the blood stream and these larvae mature through several life stages until, six months later, they grow into adult worms which live inside the blood vessels of the lungs and the chambers of the heart itself.

In heavy infections the heart and lung vessels can become physically clogged up with worms resulting in lung disease, heart failure, and death. Heartworm infection can be PREVENTED by giving a once-a-month chewable medication that kills the baby worms (larvae) before they can mature into adults and cause disease.

Heartworm disease is something that many clients don't understand, so let's clear things up...

Now that the snow has melted and the temperature has risen I have the itch to spend weekends outdoors. Despite living in Massachusetts my whole life I have never developed a love for winter like some people have. I certainly enjoy an occasional day watching the snow fall from the comfort of my couch, but after that first big snowfall I’m ready for the sun again.

Pet Dog Droppings on the LawnUnfortunately, this year we made a big mistake... sometime in the full swing of winter we decided we would just “wait until the snow melts to pick up the dog poop”.... UGH!

Flash forward to yesterday afternoon and my husband and I are strategically combing through the yard in a grid pattern to try and throw away all the dog poop so our kids can spend Easter outside. We feel like military bomb sweepers... I’m barking orders to AJ to hold the line because he keeps straying from the pattern in my head.

It took 3 hours. THREE HOURS! Every year we tell ourselves we won’t let this happen again and that next winter we’ll pick up the poop throughout the year. We never do. But we should.

The Latin word for doctor is docere, which means to teach, and I take this part of my job very seriously. I frequently follow-up on office visits with lengthy and detailed emails about what we discussed in the exam room. My hope is that by providing you with a stronger understanding of my recommendations, you will feel more confident in decision-making, and we can better achieve our goal of fostering optimal health for your pet.

Pet Vaccine Teddy BearOne of the most important components of your pet’s wellness care is keeping his/her vaccines up-to-date. Despite the fact that we give these injections every single year I find that many clients don’t know what each vaccine protects against and why it is given. Explore the links below to familiarize yourself with the different vaccines that we recommend for dogs and cats.

Core Vaccines: Recommended for ALL pets

Optional Vaccines: Recommended based on your pet’s individual lifestyle and exposure risks.

  • Feline:
    • FeLV (aka “feline leukemia”)

A wellness exam is performed to assess and optimize your pet’s health. It is important that this exam is performed when your pet is apparently healthy, and not when they are showing signs of illness, in order to get a true sense of their day-to-day condition.Dog Years

Dog Age in Human YearsWellness exams are performed every two weeks for young puppies and kittens while they are receiving all of their initial vaccine boosters. Young adult and middle-aged animals are examined once per year. Geriatric animals may be examined two or three times per year depending on their general health. Your veterinarian can recommend how often your dog should have a wellness examination, based on its specific breed, health status and lifestyle.

It is a common misconception that one calendar year equates to seven years in a dogs life.

During a wellness exam your veterinarian will ask you about your pet’s diet and appetite, thirst, energy level and lifestyle, bladder and bowel habits, behavior, and general health. A physical examination will be performed to assess outward health. Vaccinations will be updated. A heartworm test and an intestinal parasite test will be performed. Based on your pet’s history and the physical exam findings your veterinarian will make recommendations regarding nutrition, weight management, dental health, parasite control (heartworm prevention, flea/tick prevention), and screening wellness blood work, and will address any concerns you may have about your pet’s health.

Imagine you wake up one morning feeling sick... your stomach feels slightly “off” and you don’t feel well enough to eat breakfast. You didn’t sleep well the night before, leaving you tired and with a slight headache. You call out sick and head to the doctor's office. There are a few other people in the waiting room, and when you catch each others eyes, you politely smile and nod your head in a silent “good morning”.

Pet Exam Room at Ashland Animal HospitalThe nurse calls you into the exam room and asks you to describe your symptoms while getting your vital signs. You step onto the scale for your weight before sitting down on the paper-covered table. You stop talking and sit still while she listens to your heart. You take deep breaths in and out while she listens to your lungs. You hold the thermometer under your tongue while she gets your temperature and then roll up your sleeve for a blood pressure measurement. She uses a bright light to look in your ears and eyes.

She types her notes into the computer and tells you the doctor will be in shortly, leaving you to sit on the crinkly paper table. You grab your phone and wait... maybe you check Facebook, play Candy Crush, or read a (fantastic) blog post written by your veterinarian. About 10 minutes later the doctor finally knocks on the door and walks in. She reviews your symptoms and asks a few follow-up questions... Describe your stomach ache – do you feel nauseous or is it actually painful? Where does it hurt? When did it begin? Did you eat anything unusual yesterday? Have you had any vomiting? Any diarrhea? After a litany of questions and answers she proclaims that she is going to run some blood work.

Office visits, diagnostics and treatments all cost money! The only way we are able to stay in business and help animals is by paying our bills, paying our staff, purchasing and maintaining medical equipment, and keeping our inventory stocked. We cannot do this without charging for our services.

Human health insurance has led many people to believe that visits to the doctor only cost $20.00. THIS IS NOT TRUE! A trip to the human doctor costs about 4x more than the same trip to the vet’s office despite the fact that your doctor and your veterinarian are doing the same exact thing.

Veterinary Pet Exam Credit CardI have two young children who see their pediatrician regularly for exams and vaccine boosters. The following are actual real life charges from my daughter’s most recent doctor visit compared to what the same service costs at our veterinary practice.

Routine Physical Exam:

  • My Pediatrician: $247.00
  • Our Veterinary Office: $68.00

Routine Immunization (Vaccine):

  • My Pediatrician: $189.00 – $252.00 each
  • Our Veterinary Office: $29.00 – $35.00 each

I think the other thing that clients often forget (or don’t realize) is that the charges you see on your invoice at the end of the appointment go towards keeping the entire hospital up and running. This includes the cost for the building and utilities, purchasing and maintaining equipment for diagnostics and surgeries, keeping inventory stocked, and paying the salaries of all of our staff (veterinarians, technicians and front desk). The amount you spend on your animal does not go straight to the veterinarian, but allows us to continue to practice high quality medicine.