Pet Wellness Services

Your Pet's Lifetime Wellness Plan<? echo $title ?>

The staff at Bridgewater Veterinary Clinic in Bridgewater, MA is committed to providing comprehensive and individualized medical care to your pet in order to enhance his or her well-being and quality of life. As medical professionals, we recognize that in order to provide your pet with a long and happy life as well as to limit the lifetime cost of care for your pet, our focus must be on preventative care. This is why when you come to Bridgewater Veterinary Clinic we work with you to create a lifetime preventative health care plan for your special friend.

The basis of such a plan should be regular wellness examinations that include thorough screenings for a number of common diseases and ailments that could affect your pet's health. As your pet enters his or her senior years these screenings become even more important, which is why we have developed a customized senior wellness protocol.

We also recommend a balanced schedule of vaccines to protect your pet from a range of dangerous, but preventable diseases. Routine dental care is part of the plan as well, because good oral health goes a long way toward protecting overall systemic health. Beyond these standard elements of good preventative care, we also offer microchip identification in case your pet should become lost, nutritional and behavioral counseling, internal medicine services, soft tissue surgery, and much more.

Perhaps the most important piece of your pet's care is strong client/doctor communication. It is important that we hear from you about how your pet is doing and that you voice any concerns you may have in order to continuously adjust and optimize your pet's health care plan. It is also our responsibility to empower you with the information necessary to provide the best and most compassionate home-based care for your pet. We believe that our breadth and depth of medical knowledge is of little use if we do not share it with you.

Unfortunately, despite even the best preventative health care plan, your pet may experience an illness or injury. The skill, experience, and extensive education of our staff allow us to effectively manage complex medical and surgical challenges. Our level of expertise, capabilities and resources also reduces the frequency of referrals to specialists and allows you to receive care for your pets from people you know, in a comfortable and familiar setting.

Please take a look at the services offered at Bridgewater Veterinary Clinic and why we believe they are important for the care of your pet. Then feel free to give us a call at (508) 697-3831 to make an appointment or email us for more information.

Your Pet's Wellness Exams: The Standard of Lifetime Care

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You go to the doctor regularly, but does your pet? Regular wellness exams are an integral part of your pet's preventative health care plan.

A routine examination provides you and your veterinarian with the opportunity to develop a picture of your pet's overall health as well as to spot potential medical issues before they become serious health concerns. It's also an opportunity for you to ask your veterinarian important questions about your pet's health, habits, and daily care. We also use this time to inform you about home healthcare for your pet and offer important advice and new information on the care of your particular type and breed of animal.

The veterinarians at Bridgewater Veterinary Clinic recommend a complete nose-to-tail physical examination at least once a year, though more frequent exams are encouraged.

During your pet's wellness checkup, your veterinarian will:

Listen to Your Pet's Heart

Early signs of cardiac disease such as heart murmurs and abnormal heart beat patterns known as arrhythmias can be heard through a stethoscope. Discovering these initial indicators of an underlying condition will lead to treatment before it becomes a more serious health threat.

Listen to Your Pet's Lungs

Health issues such as infections, obstructive diseases and other problems can be detected by listening to your pet's lungs through a stethoscope. The doctor can also assess the overall pulmonary health of your pet.

Check Your Pet's Teeth and Oral Cavity

Infections and other forms of dental disease can lead to very serious systemic health issues. We also take the time to discuss proper home dental care with you.

Evaluate Your Pet's Vision

Ocular conditions - such as glaucoma, corneal ulcers and dry eye - can be prevented or better treated through regular care and screenings.

Look Into Your Pet's Ears

Ear disease is relatively common in many types of pets. Regular examinations can prevent most forms of ear disease from developing or stop its progression. Diagnosis and treatment of ear problems are also areas of particular expertise at Bridgewater Veterinary Clinic.

<? echo $title ?>Palpate the Lymph Nodes, Abdomen, and Skin

By feeling these areas, we are looking for unusual lumps or swellings. The skin is also evaluated for discolorations, lesions, or patterns of hair loss or thinning, which could be signs of more complicated health issues.

Palpate Joints and Muscles

By examining the joints, legs and other areas of the body, we are able to evaluate for swelling, decreased muscle tone and variations in muscle size that may indicate developing orthopedic issues. In older pets, we look for signs of arthritis, which can be treated if found early.

Lab Work

A complete physical exam includes a heartworm and tick disease screening for dogs. A chemistry panel and blood count can screen for the presence of underlying disease processes and create a baseline should your pet become ill between routine examinations.

Parasite Testing

Checking your pet for intestinal parasites is an important component of any preventative care plan for your pet and your family. For example, parasites such as hookworms are considered zoonotic, which means they can affect humans too. Intestinal parasites are diagnosed by looking at your pet's feces under a microscope.

At home, watch for subtle changes in your pet's body weight, appetite, water intake, urination and bowel habits, as well as general attitude and activity level. These changes may be signs of medical problems. Lumps and bumps under the skin may seem harmless, but can be cancerous. Ear infections, abscessed teeth, and gum disease are common, painful conditions that may not become obvious until seriously advanced. A comprehensive physical exam is the tool to evaluate your pet's health status and to help you make informed decisions about the care of your special companion.

LabworkHeartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is a serious, life-threatening disease of dogs and cats. Mosquitoes spread the disease by injecting the parasite into your pet at the time of the bite. After the infected female mosquito bites your pet, the heartworm migrates through the bloodstream and moves to the heart and adjacent blood vessels, maturing to adults within 6-7 months in dogs and 8 months in cats. As many as 30 species of mosquitoes can transmit heartworms.

Until the early 1970s, the occurrence of heartworm disease in the United States was primarily confined to the southeastern part of the country. Today, heartworm disease is found almost everywhere in the continental United States, including Massachusetts.

Clinical symptoms of heartworm disease develop very slowly. Often symptoms are not noticeable until several years after the initial infection. Lack of energy and exercise intolerance are early symptoms. Coughing and difficulty breathing are both common symptoms. As the disease progresses, most dogs develop congestive heart failure. Dogs often collapse in the final stage of the disease. Heartworm disease is less common in cats. The symptoms of heartworm disease are similar to those of feline asthma. Some cats may exhibit no signs of the disease, while others may suddenly die.

Because heartworm disease is increasing in frequency and is a serious and deadly disease, we recommend that your dog be tested annually. This test is highly accurate, and we often have the results in less than 10 minutes. Currently, diagnosting heartworm disease in cats is difficult and there is no safe treatment, so emphasis is on prevention.

Heartworm disease prevention is simple. For dogs, a once-a-month heartworm preventative can be given as a tasty, chewable treat. This same chewable medicine prevents not only heartworms from developing, but also kills and prevents most other types of worms that can infect your dog. Cats are most easily protected by applying a drop of heartworm prevention liquid to the skin once-a-month. We recommend this to prevent heartworm disease as well as fleas, ear mites, and other types of worms that can infect your cat.

If you would like to have your pet tested for heartworm disease, or if you would like additional information on how best to protect your pet from this dangerous parasite, please call Bridgewater Veterinary Clinic at (508) 697- 3831 today for an appointment.

Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks are virtually everywhere. Although they're a bigger problem in certain parts of the country and at specific times during the year, no cat or dog is completely safe from them, even pets that live exclusively indoors. Fortunately, many safe and highly effective products are available. Today, there's no reason for any pet or owner to be bothered by these pests.

Fleas are so common because they are reproductive marvels. A single female flea can lay as many as 30 eggs a day and can live and breed on your pet for up to 100 days. The eggs then fall and land in carpets and upholstery where they can lie dormant for up to 8 months. The best management techniques of flea-proofing your home include regular vacuuming of carpets, furniture, floors and areas where your pet sits or sleeps. You should also wash your pet's bedding, toys, and towels weekly.

Beyond causing serious discomfort and infesting your home, fleas and ticks carry diseases dangerous to both you and your pet. Fleas can transmit tapeworms to your pet, and often you can see segments of the tapeworm in your pet's stool. Your pet can also be allergic to fleas, and even just one flea bite can cause an intense allergic reaction, resulting in a severely painful skin infection. In our region, ticks can carry a variety of serious illnesses, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. These same ticks can bite people and transmit disease as well. We recommend all dogs be vaccinated against Lyme Disease.

The good news is that these problems can be avoided by using parasite prevention products that are available at our hospital. When used properly and according to our directions, these products are very safe and effective. They are what we use on our own pets.

Contrary to what you may have read or been told, there are no holistic or natural products available which have been shown to be effective in preventing or killing fleas and ticks. Ask any of our doctors or a staff member at Bridgewater Veterinary Clinic to recommend the flea and tick prevention product which is best suited for your pet.

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Due to the many recent discoveries and innovations in veterinary medicine, your pet can be protected against most major infectious diseases. Today, many immunizations and preventative treatments are available that did not exist a decade ago.

Vaccines are useful in preventing canine distemper, parvovirus, bordetella, rabies, Lyme disease, and other diseases in your dog, as well as feline leukemia, panleukopenia, and rabies in your cat. Our staff at Bridgewater Veterinary Clinic can assist you in deciding which preventative measures are necessary for your pet.

Up-to-date vaccinations play a large part in keeping your pet healthy and free from disease. However, not every pet requires the same series or frequency of vaccines. Our veterinarians tailor a vaccine protocol that is specific to your pet based on his or her lifestyle and recommendations from the American Veterinary Medical Association. Vaccine schedules are balanced to provide needed protection while not over-vaccinating your pet. Please contact us for more information about vaccinations.

Core Vaccines for Dogs and Cats

Core vaccines for dogs include Canine Distemper, Canine Adenovirus (hepatitis), Canine Parvovirus, and Canine Parainfluenza. Combined into one injection, the vaccine is called DHPP. Rabies is also a core vaccine for dogs and is a requirement for all dogs living in the state of Massachusetts.

Core vaccines for cats include Panleukopenia Virus, Feline Calicivirus, and Rhinotracheitis, also known as Herpes Virus. The vaccines are combined into one injection, called FVRCP. FVR is Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, which causes respiratory infections; C is for Calicivirus, another upper respiratory infection and P is for Panleukopenia, also known as Feline Distemper. Rabies vaccine is also a core vaccine for cats and a booster injection must be given each year as required by Massachusetts state law. We use Purevax Rabies vaccine in cats, the safest Rabies vaccine available for cats.

Non-Core Vaccines for Dogs and Cats

Non-core vaccines for dogs include Bordetella, Canine Influenza, and Leptospirosis vaccines. Bordetella (B. bronchiseptica) is a bacteria commonly associated with respiratory infections in dogs. It is one of the more common bacterial causes of canine infectious tracheobronchitis – also known as kennel cough. This vaccine is strongly recommended if your dog attends day care, visits dog parks, boarding kennels or any other location where he / she comes into nose-to-nose contact with other dogs. Bordetella is highly contagious, easily transmitted through the air or direct contact, and fairly resistant to destruction in the environment.

Canine Influenza is a virus that has been affecting dogs since 2004 and is contagious from dog to dog, or from dogs coming into contact with contaminated objects. Most infected dogs have symptoms similar to kennel cough (Bordetella), while a small percentage may develop severe, life-threatening disease. The Canine Influenza vaccine helps to decrease the severity of symptoms in subsequently exposed dogs and reduces the contagiousness of these dogs. Several boarding/daycare facilities in our area require this vaccine.

Leptospirosis is caused by a bacteria (Leptospira interrogans) found in contaminated soil and water as well as in the urine of infected animals. It affects dogs but can also infect other animals, including humans. Signs of Leptospirosis include fever, lethargy, significant thirst and urine volume, and possibly jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). If not diagnosed and treated early, Leptospirosis can be deadly. The Leptospirosis vaccine has historically been one of the more allergenic vaccines given to dogs. In light of this fact, we only select high-risk dogs for vaccination. In addition, we pride ourselves on only using the purest (least allergenic) vaccine on the market today. If you are concerned about Leptospirosis in your dog, please feel free to work with one of our veterinarians to establish an individualized risk assessment.

Feline Leukemia (FeLV) is an incurable, contagious virus that suppresses the immune system's ability to fight infection and can cause cancer. This disease is contagious from cat to cat through mutual grooming, sharing food and water supplies, and sharing elimination areas. FeLV can also be transmitted from an infected mother to her kittens, which is why we recommend testing all kittens for the disease. Often, there are no symptoms until late in the disease, and most infected cats succumb to complications within three years of diagnosis. Kittens are much more susceptible than adults to Feline Leukemia, which is why we recommend vaccinating all kittens, even if they will be indoor cats. The FeLV vaccine is also recommended for adult cats who spend time outdoors. We use only Purevax Leukemia vaccine, the safest vaccine available.