My pet seems healthy. Should I run periodic labwork on him/her?
The reason why wellness labwork should be run periodically on pets, even if they look healthy on the outside, is because we can't always know what is going on internally just based on a physical exam. Sometimes, through labwork, we can detect diseases before the pet shows overt signs - diseases such as liver or kidney problems, urinary tract infections, intestinal parasites, and diabetes.
How often and what type of wellness labwork should be run on my pet?
The answer to this question varies between veterinarian to veterinarian. Our typical recommendation is: Dogs and cats under the age of 7: a smaller panel consisting of fecal test, complete blood count, and mini-chemistry (which will measure and evaluate basics such as kidney function, diabetes, and several liver values) on annual basis. Dogs and cats age 7 or over: a more comprehensive panel of fecal test, complete blood count, full chemistry, thyroid levels, and urinalysis on an annual basis.
Why are there such wide price differences with spays/neuters from clinic to clinic?
There are several different items that are involved with a spay or neuter, and how much each clinic does may correspond to the price:
Preoperative bloodwork - while optional, it is recommended to perform labwork prior to any anesthetic procedure to make sure there are no red flags that would raise the risk of surgery.
Drugs - many of the newer drugs are more expensive, and different situations call for these medications. Also, depending on the philosophy of the veterinarian, some pets may or may not receive pain medications before and after the surgery. In our opinion, making sure our patients are not in pain should be a high priority, as pain can cause obvious distress, loss of appetite, and delayed wound healing. Thus, every pet that will be undergoing surgery at our clinic receives pre- and post-operative pain medications.
Anesthetic monitoring - there are many different levels of monitoring, and the amount that occurs depends on the philosophy of the veterinarian. Many problems can occur with anesthesia, when our pets' defenses are lowered, and our belief is that the highest level of monitoring is a crucial part of surgery. Measurements are taken every 5 minutes, and important vitals such as blood pressure (including Doppler use on smaller pets), ECG, pulse oximetry, and respiratory rate are extremely important.
IV Catheter and fluids - again, problems can occur under anesthesia, and it is important to have intravenous access during these times. IV fluids during surgery keep our pets hydrated and allow us to maintain their blood pressure. Minor, quick procedures may not always require this, but for most surgeries, it is an integral part of our medical protocol.
Post-operative care - a technician remains with our patients until they are fully extubated and stable. We monitor temperatures to make sure they return to normal levels as soon as possible, reducing the risk of infection. Clear discharge instructions are always provided with each pet, along with pain medications and protective devices (i.e. E-collars). We take extreme effort to ensure every patient receives the best care and risk is minimized, from the time they are dropped off to the time their owners pick them up. Because of all the effort and care placed on each of our spays and neuters, our prices tend to be higher than our competitors. While a spay or neuter may be considered by most to be a "routine" surgery, we treat it as any other major surgery.
What type of vaccines should my pet receive, and how often?
Many of the older protocols are outdated, especially with the newer vaccines manufactured today, and so not every pet needs every vaccine annually. Our goal is to properly protect our patients, but NOT to over-vaccinate them. Certain vaccines, such as FIV for cats, are not effective, and other vaccines, such as Lyme, Corona, or Lepto, guard against diseases for which the pet may not be at risk. It is important for a veterinarian to go over the different diseases, protocols, and possible risk situations for each pet to determine which vaccines are necessary.
Why are their price differences for vaccines from clinic to clinic?
There are many different manufacturers for vaccines, and different combinations. While all vaccines have the potential to cause a reaction, certain ones appear to have a higher risk than others. We try to avoid these vaccines to protect our patients, even though they may be a little more expensive. And if a clinic is over-vaccinating or vaccinating for diseases that are relatively unnecessary, the overall cost may be higher even though the per-vaccine cost may be less, while also increasing the risk for reactions.