Owings Mills Veterinary Center (OMVC) recommends a yearly wellness exam. Our pets are now living longer due to advances in veterinary medicine, improved nutrition, and the ability of early detection of disease and appropriate therapy.
Owings Mills Veterinary Center encourages a complete physical examination for your pet every 6–12 months. A regular physical examination is just as important for pets as it is for humans. A year in a pet’s life is like 6 or 7 years in a human life.
Wellness exams, typically include a thorough physical exam and all appropriate diagnostics, such as heartworm blood test, blood profile, microscopic fecal examination, blood pressure evaluation and radiographs when indicated to screen for early detection of disease. This is also a good time to get up to date on your pet’s vaccinations.
Our wellness program focuses on preventative medicine based on the species, breed, age, medical history and environmental situation of your pet. Routine wellness examinations give your veterinarian an opportunity to evaluate your pet’s overall health. Examinations are essential in catching disease early as well as teaching clients about symptoms of common diseases, what physical or behavioral changes are serious, and how to prevent disease through proper nutrition and supplements.
For older pets, a lot can happen in 2 or 3 months. Medical problems can develop quickly and early detection becomes critical. More frequent wellness exams for “senior citizen” pets gives us a chance to catch many diseases early—sometimes before they even start showing signs of illness.
Pets age faster than people. We have all heard that pets age 7 years for every 1 human year. However, many factors influence the rate your pet ages including breed, adult size, nutrition and lifestyle. In general, it can be said that pets are “middle-age” when they reach 6 to 7 years of age and after this age we may begin to detect subtle changes in organ function. This is why we, as veterinarians, begin to recommend certain tests, diets, supplements, and other measures to insure your pet may live as long and pain free as possible. In fact, the general pet population is living longer because of improved health care. While a good geriatric wellness program will help extend the longevity and quality of your pet’s life, it is important to note that care of the elderly pet starts at birth and is a life-long endeavor. Parasite prevention, diet, vaccines, exercise, and weight should be considered from birth. Finally, it is important to know that many changes you notice in your pet that you attribute to “old age” may in fact be preventable or reversible. For example, an arthritic animal may become less active but with proper diet, exercise and treatment may begin to “act like a puppy or kitten” again. We encourage you to read the following information on our comprehensive geriatric wellness program and let us know if you have any questions or are interested in scheduling these tests for your pet.
Diseases are more easily treated if they are detected early in the disease process before significant organ function has been lost. For example, an increased blood glucose level can indicate the beginning of diabetes. If detected early, the dog/cat can be treated with a simple diet change or insulin therapy. However, if diabetes is allowed to continue unmanaged, serious health consequences arise including liver disease, pancreatic disease, kidney disease, cataracts, seizures, and even death. Early detection of disease is a key part in maintaining the health of your pet.
- As pets age, frequent physical exams can help detect changes in your pet’s overall health. Enlarged lymph nodes, skin and abdominal masses, heart murmurs, and respiratory difficulty are important findings that can be detected on physical exams and require medical attention.
- Laboratory tests on your pet’s blood, urine, and feces can often reveal a problem before your pet begins to show outward signs of disease. A routine “geriatric profile” screens for liver function, kidney function, diabetes, infection, anemia, thyroid function, dehydration, intestinal parasites, and other signs of metabolic disease.
- A thorough medical history which you reveal through the observations of your pet at home can also provide clues to his/her overall health. Changes in activity, attitude, appetite, water intake, urination, bowel movements, or body weight will help us determine where to look for problems.
Dental care becomes increasingly important as your pet ages. When routine care is neglected, gingivitis, painful chewing, tooth loss, periodontal disease and even heart disease can all become serious problems. 70% of older cats and older dogs have some form of dental disease. Routine dental care has been shown to increase the length of your pet’s life by removing the source of infection that can affect other vital organs in the body.
Because nutritional needs change with age, feeding your dog or cat an appropriate diet also becomes more critical as he/she gets older. Age, body condition, weight, degenerative joint disease, and organ insufficiencies can all influence his/her needs. There are many excellent diets available that can be used to provide the exact nutrition that your pet needs.
Geriatric wellness programs are typically tailored to the individual. Factors such as your pet’s age, previous illness, overall health status, medications your pet may be taking, and your degree of commitment to your pet’s wellness influence the frequency of visits and the type of screening tests run. Please let us know if you are interested in implementing a geriatric health program for your senior pet.
Puppy and Kitten Exams
Owings Mills Veterinary Center offers a program of vaccines tailored to your puppy or kitten’s needs, in order to ensure that your pet receives complete preventative care to protect him or her from disease. We provide thorough physical exams, intestinal parasite control, and all vaccines needed to maintain good health. Other important aspects of your puppy or kitten’s health that we will discuss with you are the nutrition your pet needs for optimal health, house and litter box training, socialization and behavioral concerns. We are, of course, happy to discuss any other questions you may have as well.
- The Puppy and Kitten exams consist of:
- Comprehensive physical exam
- Internal parasite testing, treatment and prevention
- Puppy: distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, parvovirus, bordetella, rabies
- Kitten: rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia, feline leukemia, rabies
- Pet owner counseling regarding pet care, housebreaking, behavior problems and socialization
Behavior problems are a major cause of euthanasias in animal shelters all across the country. Most behavior issues can be solved through a combination of training, exercise and sometimes behavior modification drugs. However, it’s sometimes easier to prevent behavior problems than to treat them. Raising your puppy or kitten right with lots of socialization and training is critical.
Dogs and cats can suffer from anxiety, fear, aggression and obsessive-compulsive disorders. These may manifest as destruction of the house, litter box problems, trembling or hiding and stereotypical behaviors like circling.
When a behavior problem begins, it’s important to address it early. The longer the problem occurs, the harder it is to treat. First, we begin with a physical exam to see if any underlying medical reasons are to blame. If there is no medical cause, we begin behavior modification training. We can recommend a certified behaviorist for behavior problems. It is sometimes necessary to use behavior drug therapy.
Solving behavior problems takes time, patience and consistency. Even drug therapy is not a quick fix. For more information on pet behavior problems, ask your veterinarian.
Nutritional Counseling is available for weight maintenance, weight loss, as well as joint and skin problems and age-related problems for all the stages of your pet’s life. Proper nutrition is extremely important in maintaining the health of the entire body. Nutritional deficiencies and/or excesses commonly cause or contribute to pets’ diseases and injuries. Obesity is the single most common pet health problem in the United States.
Let us help you decide which food will best meet your pet’s individual needs.
Preventative Health Care
At Owings Mills Veterinary Center, we believe that preventive care is the cornerstone of your pet’s health and that a doctor-patient relationship must be kept current in order for us to recommend the most appropriate health plan for your dog or cat. Therefore, our doctors will insist upon examining your pet at least once a year, prior to administering vaccines, or dispensing prescription medication. For pets in their golden years, we strongly recommend our senior wellness package on an annual basis. This specially-priced group of bundled services includes a physical exam, complete blood panel, and urinalysis. Based on annual physical exams and lab test results, our doctors will make appropriate recommendations for your pet’s preventative health care needs such as vaccines, flea control, dental care, and nutritional supplements.
Even though your puppy or kitten has gotten its initial round of vet-administered pet vaccines, their protection does not last forever. Just as people must get booster shots, so must your dog or cat. Ultimately, the key to a long and healthy life for your pet is to be a responsible pet owner, to be aware, and to keep up with yearly preventative vaccines.
Dogs and cats get a variety of vaccines for the prevention of different diseases. Some viruses are shared between the species, such as rabies, which both dogs and cats can contract. Preventing these diseases with vaccinations is far cheaper in the long run than having to treat your pet when they are in critical condition and need extensive hospitalization and care. Below are some of the more common diseases that afflict pets and what they can do to your favorite companion. Remember that above all it is your responsibility as a good pet owner to keep your pet healthy and protected from infectious diseases.
Rabies is a serious neurological disease caused by a virus that is transmitted by a bite from a rabid animal through their infected saliva. It can be fatal to your pet if they are exposed. Rabies vaccinations are required by law. Therefore your pets must be vaccinated for rabies.
If you live in a wooded area or in a part of town with a high population of bats, foxes, raccoons, and skunks, there is a higher risk that your cat or dog can become exposed to rabid animals. Rabid animals will show signs of salivating excessively, have difficulty swallowing, behave erratically, will be overly sensitive to noise, will move and often strike out at anything moving in their path. There is no cure for rabies in cats or dogs. So please be a responsible pet owner, and make sure that your pets receive timely vaccinations.
Common Canine Diseases:
- Bordatella (Kennel Cough): Your dog should be vaccinated against kennel cough if you are boarding your animal while you are away from home, or even if your dog is just socializing with other dogs. The vaccine is frequently administered via a nasal spray as well as by injection. A dog with kennel cough often displays symptoms such as a deep, hacking cough and occasional mucus. If the disease is contracted, the dog is treated with a course of antibiotics.
- Distemper: This disease is usually fatal to dogs, and is highly contagious. It affects the respiratory, digestive and nervous systems, and is identified by its initial flu-like symptoms, including coughing, sneezing, runny nose and eyes, and lethargy. A high fever will accompany these symptoms and will be followed by diarrhea.
- Hepatitis: This disease is caused by a virus that affects the liver, causing your dog to experience a fever, runny eyes, and abdominal pain. The fever may increase, causing convulsions. This disease, without prior administration of pet vaccines can be fatal if not treated in a timely manner.
- Leptospirosis: A bacterial disease commonly contracted through drinking of stagnant water in which an infected animal has urinated. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease and can be spread to humans as well. In the beginning, symptoms may be nonexistent, but the disease will eventually lead to a kidney infection, vomiting, fever, and weight loss. The infection can be fatal if not treated, and the dog, if it survives, will most likely suffer from side-effects for the rest of his or her life.
- Parainfluenza: This is a highly contagious respiratory disease, whose symptoms include a dry cough, runny nose, and eyes, and lethargy. The disease will cause damage to the dog’s respiratory system and can be fatal if not treated quickly. If you are likely to board your dog, the administration of preventative vaccines for Parainfluenza is recommended.
- Parvovirus: A serious viral infection that can affect young, non-vaccinated puppies. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. A large percentage of puppies infected with parvo will die in just a few days if they do not receive hospitalization with aggressive fluid therapy and nursing care. Vaccinating female dogs before breeding and vaccinating puppies at 8 weeks of age with the Parvo vaccine is a very important preventative for this highly contagious disease.
Common Feline Diseases
- Chlamydia, Calici, and Rhinotracheitis: All three are common upper respiratory diseases. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, a runny nose and eyes, and fatigue, all of which are similar to our common cold. Antibiotics and good nursing care is the basis of treatment but preventative vaccines are important in reducing infection especially in multi-cat households.
- Feline Leukemia Virus: A contagious viral infection that is shed in the saliva, milk, urine, and feces of infected cats. Cats who are predominantly outdoors and roam are at higher risk of exposure to this virus from infected cats. After successful infection cats can develop cancer, anemia or immunodeficiency. The Feline Leukemia vaccine is very good at providing protection and is always recommended if you have an indoor-outdoor cat.
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus: There is no good vaccine to protect against this virus at this time. Commonly but incorrectly referred to as Feline AIDS, humans are unable to catch FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus). Cats who are outdoors and get into fights are at greater risk of getting FIV because of the great potential for bites. Biting is the major mode of transmission. FIV positive cats can develop immunodeficiency, cancer, anemia, and neurologic disease.
- Distemper (Panleukopenia): Distemper should not be confused with the distemper viral infection in dogs. Distemper in cats is more similar to parvo virus in dogs. Diarrhea, high fever, vomiting, lethargy, and loss of appetite are hallmark symptoms of distemper. This disease is almost always fatal without proper vaccines beforehand.
Vaccinating your pet ensures that he or she is protected for the many infectious agents that are out in the environment. Speak with your veterinarian if you have questions. He or she can offer information on these regular rounds of vaccines. Being a responsible pet owner is a major part of maintaining your pet’s health. You owe it to your dog or cat to get them vaccinated.
Our doctors are skilled at performing routine and non-routine soft tissue surgery. If needed, we can provide a referral to an appropriate specialist. To ensure that your pet has a safe experience we routinely do the following:
- Perform an exam prior to surgery
- Recommend pre-anesthetic blood tests
- Give pre-operative sedation to minimize anxiety
- Electronically monitor heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen levels throughout the procedure
- Use isoflurane, one of the safest inhalant anesthetic
- Administer post-operative pain medication
- Owings Mills Veterinary Center provides a safe and caring environment for your pet’s spay or neuter procedure. Ideally, pets are spayed or neutered between the ages of 6 to 8 months. If your pet has not been spayed or neutered, and is older than 8 months, we recommend the procedure as soon as possible.
- The benefits of spaying female cats or dogs include: reducing the risk of mammary cancer by 99.5 percent; preventing uterine infections; eliminating heat cycles and preventing unwanted pregnancies. The procedure consists of removing the ovaries and uterus.
- The benefits of neutering male cats or dogs include: reducing the risk of prostate and testicular cancer; preventing roaming; preventing aggression and marking and reducing urine odor. The procedure consists of removing the testicles.
- A spayed or neutered pet will continue to have his or her own unique personality. With today’s modern anesthetics and monitoring equipment, the risk of complication is extremely low.
- Owings Mills Veterinary Center requires a pre-operative examination and pre-anesthetic blood work.
X-rays are like a window into your pet’s body.
X-rays (also referred to as radiographs) are an important diagnostic tool used to look at the different organs in the body of your pet. Air, fluid, soft tissue, fat, and bone are seen on the radiograph by the different shades of black, gray and white. X-rays can help the veterinarian diagnose a variety of problems with your pet such as a mass in the abdomen, a foreign body in the GI tract, bladder stones, heart problems, asthma, bloating of the stomach or twisting of the stomach (referred to as gastric torsion) and fractures of bones. Taking X-rays is a low risk of exposure to radiation for your pet. It is a noninvasive way to look at the internal organs of the animal’s body.
If an X-ray does not give the veterinarian the definitive answer to a problem, another imaging tool such as ultrasound can be important in evaluating the internal organs of your pet’s body. An ultrasound picture, or sonogram, is made by bouncing sound waves off of the object to be photographed. Most of us have seen an ultrasound of a baby. One of the most important qualities of an ultrasound is the ability to image organs and other parts of the body with no harmful side effects to the patient.
An ultrasound is now becoming a regular part of the diagnostic tools used in veterinary medicine as well as in human medicine.
According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, oral disease is the number one health problem diagnosed in dogs and cats. By the time they are 3 years old, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have oral disease if they don’t receive proper dental care. Yet only 3 percent of dogs and 1 percent of cats get the treatment they need. Because all pets are at risk for developing dental problems, it is important to check your pet’s mouth and teeth for the following warning signs of dental disease:
- Bad breath
- Tartar buildup
- Swollen or bleeding gums
- Nasal discharge
- Change in eating habits – not eating, or dropping food, for example
- Facial swelling
Since your pet cannot take care of his or her own teeth, you as a pet owner can help prevent dental disease by getting professional care from your veterinarian as well as by providing dental care at home. At OMVC, we recommend that your pet have, at minimum, a yearly dental exam and cleaning, depending on the condition of his or her teeth.
What happens to my pet during a dental cleaning?
At OMVC a proper dental cleaning begins with a thorough physical exam, pre-anaesthetic bloodwork and a thorough consult with the client so they understand what teeth may be extracted and what to expect after the procedure. Prior to induction of anesthesia the pet is placed on intravenous fluids and analgesic and antibiotic injections are given. The pet is then placed under general anesthesia. Throughout the procedure the veterinary technician is monitoring heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and oxygenation of the blood. The teeth are thoroughly cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler, all teeth are examined for gingival pockets. Any teeth that need extraction are removed by the veterinarian. Local dental blocs are done to reduce pain. When needed absorbable sutures are placed at the site of tooth extraction. Teeth are then polished and a fluoride treatment is also performed on all remaining teeth to further prevent tartar buildup. Pets are supervised closely during recovery in order that they wake up smoothly and are alert and able to stand on their own. Pain medications and antibiotics are routinely sent home with the owner with written instructions on how to care for their pet after a good dental cleaning.
There are many oral cleaning products designed exclusively for pet use—talk to a staff member about which products would be appropriate for your pet. Daily brushing of your pets’ teeth will minimize plaque build-up. Antiseptic oral rinses will help protect against bacterial overgrowth in your pet’s mouth. Dental diets and specially formulated chew treats will also help to keep the teeth healthy in between visits to our hospital.
Proper dental care is critical to a pet’s overall health. Bacteria from periodontal disease, if left untreated, can travel through the bloodstream and damage internal organs including the heart, liver and kidney. Keeping your pet’s teeth healthy can greatly increase their quality of life and the number of years you have to spend with your pet.
Owings Mills Veterinary Center has a full-service pharmacy stocked with common medications prescribed by our veterinarians. We carry prescriptions for antibiotics, parasiticides, heart medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, medicated shampoos, topical ointments, ophthalmic drops, ear cleaners, anti-diarrheal and anti-tussive medications. If refills are needed for your pets you just need to call us and we will check with the doctor to get approval.
Owings Mills Veterinary Center offers an in-house pharmacy so you can enjoy these benefits:
- The convenience of having prescriptions filled during your visit
- High-quality medications guaranteed by the drug manufacturer
- A thorough understanding of your pet’s medical history and needs
- On-going monitoring of your pet’s health and medications
Television commercials, pet supply catalogs, and Internet pharmacies that promise a “deal” on pet prescriptions may be misleading. The Florida Board of Pharmacy has disciplined Pet Med Express and Savemax Inc. for dispensing drugs not approved by the FDA and contracting of veterinarians to write prescriptions without examining the animal. The companies were fined more than $67,000, placed on probation for 3 years, must perform 2300 hours of community service, and must complete continuing-education courses. These are serious violations.
If you purchase prescriptions through such pharmacies, please be aware of these risks:
- The drug manufacturer may not guarantee medications
- Some medications may be foreign drugs that may not have the same quality and purity assurance as the United States does. It is generally illegal to dispense foreign drugs in the United States, including foreign versions of U.S. products.
- Some medications may be imitations of approved drugs.
- Selling prescriptions directly to consumers without a veterinarian-client-patient relationship may pose health risks to patients.
Owings Mills Veterinary Center contains an in-house laboratory, which enables us to provide immediate results for many laboratory tests instead of having to wait for results from an outside laboratory. Our diagnostic equipment can perform a wide range of in-house testing options.
When time is of the essence for a pet’s treatment, blood chemistry and hematology profiles can be completed within half an hour. Our instruments provide accurate results for the following tests:
- Pre-anesthetic bloodwork
- Complete blood cell count
- Kidney function
- Liver function
Other common tests that are performed include:
Urinalysis: Testing of the urine to look at the different components that are in the urine that might reveal possible disease processes like urinary tract infection, kidney disease, diabetes.
Fungal culture: Special culture media used to look for infections of the skin using hair or scales of the skin as samples.
Cytology: The microscopic examination of cells taken from ear swabs, skin scrapes, and needle aspirates. Yeast infection in the ear canal or on skin, mites and cancerous cells are some of the abnormalities we can detect on cytology.
Fecal analysis: A flotation technique is used to evaluate the presence of roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms in the feces of our pets. It is important to evaluate the fecal samples of our pets annually because of the potential for zoonotic disease as well a the overall health of the animal.
Other available tests:
- Heartworm testing
- Feline leukemia testing
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus testing
- Tick borne disease testing (Lyme, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma)
Pets with special skin conditions are bathed with a medicated shampoo that will aid in healing. Our cleansing baths remove dirt, debris and pet odor. In addition, our staff can give your pet a nail trim, ear cleaning and express anal glands.
International Health Certificates
Dr. de Leon is APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) accredited.
Travelers within or outside the United States may require a health certificate for their pets so that the pets can travel with their owners. Owings Mills Veterinary Center can help you to obtain a health certificate when you need one.
A microchip, the size of a grain of rice, is implanted subcutaneously between the shoulder blades of your pet. It is a simple and quick procedure.
By microchipping your pet, you can register his or her information with a national database that could help you find your pet in the event that your pet is lost or stolen. 30 to 60% of lost pets in shelters are never claimed because they cannot be properly identified and returned to their owner.
Prescription diets available
We carry a limited stock of prescription diets. A variety of diseases benefit from special diets such as patients who have been diagnosed with kidney disease, skin allergies, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease.