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When to Take Your Pet to the Vet

As a pet parent, ensuring your pets' health and well-being is your top priority. Regular veterinary checkups are vital for preventive care, but how do you know when your pet needs to see the vet outside of routine care? Today we're sharing our guide on when to take your pet to the vet in Yorktown, keeping in mind that veterinary shortages are only getting worse in Virginia and nationwide.

When to Take Your Pet to the Vet: Routine Checkups

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Routine Checkups: Prevention

Pets should see the vet at least once a year, even if they seem healthy. Routine check-ups and bloodwork allow veterinarians to detect potential problems early, often before they become serious. Early intervention can significantly improve your pet's prognosis and overall health.

Routine Checkups: Vaccination

In addition, annual veterinary visits ensure your pet's vaccinations are up-to-date to protect them from illnesses like rabies, distemper, and parvovirus. Per the Virginia Department of Health, "No matter what the age at initial vaccination, the second vaccination should be administered within a year regardless of whether the initial vaccine had 1 year or 3 year duration of immunity. If vaccine approved by the USDA for 3 or 4 years duration of immunity is used, triennial or quadrennial booster vaccinations can be administered beginning with the second vaccination, even if the second vaccination is overdue or early. For the most part, the initial vaccination should occur between 3 and 4 months of age, however, there are some vaccines now available for cats that can be given as early as 8 weeks of age."

When to Take Your Pet to the Vet: Signs of Illness

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The following symptoms serve as warning signs that something may be wrong with your pet. If you notice any of these, it's likely time to schedule a visit. But, don't wait until the symptoms become acute. Rather, be proactive and call your vet when you notice one or two of these symptoms that last a few days.

  • Changes in Appetite: Noticeable reduction or increase in appetite, especially if accompanied by weight loss or gain

  • Vomiting or Diarrhea: Occasional vomiting or diarrhea might not be a cause for concern, but persistent episodes require a vet visit

  • Lethargy or Unusual Behavior:  If your pet is less active or playful than usual or is exhibiting strange or aggressive behavior, you may be wise to schedule a visit with your vet

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  • Urinary Issues:  Changes in urination frequency, straining to urinate, or blood in the urine necessitate a vet visit, especially in male cats because many have died from urinary blockages

  • Skin or Coat Problems:  Excessive scratching, hair loss, or visible wounds warrant veterinary attention

  • Limping: If you notice your pet limping, refusing to put pressure on a limb, etc. they may be experiencing pain and need to be evaluated by a veterinarian

  • Pain: If your pet displays signs of pain when petted, brushed, etc. it's a good idea to discuss the pet's reaction and sensitivity with your vet

  • Dental Issues:  Signs of dental problems include bad breath, difficulty eating, pawing at the mouth, or avoidance of food and favorite treats

  • Wheezing or Coughing: Any breathing changes should be evaluated by a veterinarian because they may signal infection, heart disease, a collapsed trachea, allergies, asthma, foreign bodies, and more

When to Take Your Pet to the Vet in Yorktown: Emergencies

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Seek immediate veterinary attention if your pet experiences the following symptoms. In these cases, you want to find a veterinary clinic with diagnostic tools and the ability to perform emergency surgery. The vet that you visit for preventative and routine surgeries may not be equipped to handle significant health concerns. Always call ahead before taking your pet to the emergency veterinarian and let them know why you're coming and how long you expect to be.

  • Sudden Collapse or Difficulty Standing

  • Labored or Difficulty Breathing

  • Wheezing or Coughing

  • Seizures or Tremors

  • Excessive Bleeding

  • Severe Pain or Distress

  • Choking or Difficulty Breathing

  • Poisoning

Finding a Veterinarian in Yorktown and Its Environs

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Yorktown boasts a variety of qualified veterinary clinics. Conduct online research to find a veterinarian that aligns with your pet's needs and your preferences. Consider factors like location, clinic hours, services offered, and online reviews from other pet owners.

As a Fear Free Certified Professional, I highly recommend starting your search here. A Fear Free Certified Veterinarian or Veterinary Practice will ensure your pet is at ease during visits and consultations. They will help you better prepare your pet for appointments and work with them to meet their needs in a gentle, collaborative way. At the time that this blog was published, Kiln Creek Animal Care is the only veterinary clinic near Yorktown, VA.

Hearts at Home is Here to Help

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By prioritizing regular veterinary checkups, being observant of your pet's behavior, and acting promptly when necessary, you can ensure your pet receives the care they need to live a long and healthy life. And, you can be sure that we're being proactive during pet care visits too. When you hire Hearts at Home Pet Sitting, you get knowledgeable, caring dog walkers and pet sitters that are prepared to handle veterinary emergencies and more. Trusting us with your pet's care is ensuring your own peace of mind!

Our in-home dog walking and pet sitting services are available in Yorktown, Poquoson, Newport News, and Hampton, Virginia. If you are interested in registering your dog(s) with us, please complete a new client questionnaire here. Existing clients may request services here.

Please visit our website or contact us by email at or by phone at 757-745-9868 to learn more. We look forward to caring for your pets.

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