Bellevue Veterinary Hospital, Parksville

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Frequently Asked Questions

Bellevue Vet Clinic Frequently Asked QuestionsOver the years, we have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions.  Please feel free to browse the questions and answers below.

As always, we welcome discussion with you directly, so if the answer to your question isn't listed below, we would like to hear from you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is looked at during the physical examination?

  • Body condition (overweight, underweight, muscle condition, etc.)
  • Alertness, behavior & attitude (is your pet reacting normally to the things around them? moving normally?)
  • Eyes, Ears, Nose -- any redness, discharge, swelling, or snuffling/sneezing?
  • Lymph nodes are examined for any enlargement.
  • Mouth & teeth -- (in those pets who'll allow it) we look in the mouth for any sores or changes to the gums & tongue, but also check the teeth for tartar & signs of decay or infection.
  • Haircoat & skin -- Watch for fleas!
  • Heart & Lungs -- We listen to breathing sounds as well as heart rate & rhythm. We also try to determine if there is a heart "murmur".
  • Abdomen - we observe & feel the belly to try and detect any abnormalities inside. We can often feel normal structures such as kidneys, spleen, bladder & intestines.
  • Temperature -- body temperature is taken by aural (ear) thermometer or rectal thermometer. During this procedure, the tail is manipulated and checked + the perineum (area around the anus) is examined for any changes.

Why does my pet need an annual physical examination?

Two main reasons:

  1. "Prevention is the best medicine" ... and
  2. Recognizing disease early will usually allow for more successful treatment results.

Granted, most of the time (hopefully) your pet is probably feeling just fine and there are no signs of disease. Checking for signs of disease at least annually, increases our chances of preventing future problems or catching things early.

I have a new puppy or kitten. What do I do next?

From SPCA? Some new animals are obtained from the SPCA. Those will require a checkup and the SPCA will provide you with paperwork that allows this first veterinary checkup to be free. At that first appointment, the veterinarian will assess and discuss what vaccinations, deworming or other routine care has already been done and what is still suggested to do.

From breeder? Some new pets are purchased from a breeder. If they have not received a checkup and first immunization yet (8 weeks & older), you should call the veterinary office to make an appointment for this. Often they will have their “first vaccinations” already done. Boosters and a checkup are required about a month after the first ones. Usually a breeder will give you suggestions for these follow- up veterinary appointments. If not, please phone our office to ask.

A new stray? Finally some new pets may be found as strays. These pets should be examined and assessed for whatever health care requirements they need based on their individual circumstances.

How often do I have to vaccinate my pet?

Individual lifestyle will dictate what vaccinations are required and how often. The following questions are considerations that can assist in vaccination frequency decisions.

  • Does your pet socialize with others?
  • Do you travel with your pet and if so, where?
  • Does your pet spend time in a boarding facility? (or frequently at a grooming shop?)
  • Does your pet have any ongoing health concerns?

Rabies vaccination is recommended every 3rd year (on Vancouver Island) after the initial immunization and booster (at about 4 months and then 1-1/2 years respectively).

How can I get rid of fleas?

There are many safe and effective flea products available at our veterinary office. These are different products from those you would find in the pet store.

We carry medications that are given once/month or once every 3 months by mouth, or products that can be applied once/ month on the skin. Also there is a pill that can “kickstart” the flea eradication by working fast but for a short burst. These are all very safe and we use them on our own pets.

Some pets who socialize a lot with other animals may require ongoing flea treatments throughout the year to prevent infestation.

Others, who live a more isolated life, may only require treatment when there is a problem.

If you know that there are fleas present, all pets in the household will have to be treated for several months.

Phone our veterinary office for answers to your specific questions.

How often to treat for worms?

Some types of parasites are transmissible to people – especially children and also immuno-compromised adults, so this is a very important health care concern that could affect the whole family. Regular deworming should be an important consideration to every responsible pet owner. . Individual lifestyle will determine what is required and how often, and this is a conversation you should have with your veterinarian.

What do you mean by "geriatric pets?"

Aging pets are classified as “mature”or “senior”, and then “geriatric”.

For larger dog breeds this occurs earlier than for the smaller breeds and for cats.

Dogs over 50 lbs are considered mature over 7 years of age and geriatric at 9 or 10 years of age & up.

Smaller dogs & all cats are considered "mature" at 9 years, and “geriatric” after about 12 yrs.

Suggestions for geriatric pet care:

  1. Check-ups: Older pets are more likely to experience chronic, slowly progressive diseases due to their age. An examination every 6 months increases the likelihood that disease will be caught earlier in its course.
  2. Weight management: It is much easier to prevent weight gain than to try to lose extra weight afterwards. Leaner body condition encourages a healthier, longer and more comfortable life for your pet. Weight issues are very often influencing the health of our senior pets.
  3. Screening blood tests should be done to obtain baseline values and detect early changes in thyroid, liver, kidney or other organ systems. Discuss the need for & frequency of blood testing with your veterinarian.
  4. Dental cleanings: Many older pets are beginning to show signs of dental problems and gum disease. Although ideally we should try to prevent this from happening (by having dental cleanings earlier in life), it should be dealt with before the pet ages further. A cleaner, healthier mouth can translate into a happier, longer life.
  5. Care of sore older joints: Larger breeds of dogs, especially, have a harder time getting up and around as they age. The first piece of advise to take is: keep the dog at his/her optimal weight. Being overweight will only add to the discomfort of osteoarthritis. Talk to your vet about investigating and treating canine osteoarthritis. There are some very effective pain medications available, as well as other remedies to consider.

Should I have pet insurance?

We do not sell pet insurance. Therefore we can’t get into details about premiums and what is covered by different policies and so on. We’d like to encourage people to look into the different options.

Insurance is a great thing to have when you suddenly need it. Premiums are based on the breed & age of dog or cat, any pre-existing health conditions, and the geographical area you live in. There are web sites with explanations and information for anyone who wishes to look into this.