Pet Wellness Services

Pet Wellness ServicesThe team of veterinary professionals at Steele Creek Animal Hospital in Charlotte, NC is committed to providing you and your pet with the finest care possible. We provide veterinary services to dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets and pocket pets. If a second opinion is needed for your exotic pet, we can refer you to an exotic pet specialist in our Charlotte area. We also perform a certain number of health maintenance requirements for birds (beak, wing, and nail trims) and can refer advanced medical cases to a local avian specialist.

Our veterinary team believes that prevention contributes to your pet's long-term health and minimizes the lifetime cost of care. We strongly recommend routine wellness exams, vaccinations, regular laboratory tests, deworming and fecal checks, as well as medications to prevent heartworm, fleas and ticks to keep your pet in optimum health. We are a welcoming, skilled, and cost-conscious partner in the care of your beloved companions.

Despite the very best preventive care, a beloved pet may develop an illness or be injured. Our internal medicine and surgical expertise, as well as our advanced diagnostic capabilities and veterinary laboratory, ensures your pet receives a quick and accurate diagnosis. We take time to explain our diagnosis to you and provide you with various options for your pet's treatment.

Please take a look at the services we offer to learn why we believe they are important to the care and wellbeing of your pet. Then give us a call to set up an appointment today! We are eager to serve our Charlotte, NC and York County, SC communities' pets in every way.

Wellness Exams

Your Pet's Lifetime Wellness Plan

The staff at Steele Creek Animal Hospital is committed to providing comprehensive and individualized medical care to your pet in order to enhance his or her wellbeing 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 preventive care. This is why when you come to Steele Creek Animal Hospital we work with you to create a lifetime preventive health care plan for your special friend.

The basis of such a plan consists of regular wellness examinations that include thorough screenings for a number of common diseases and ailments that could affect your pet's health. Our veterinarians are experienced in diagnosis and management of internal medical concerns including endocrinology, gastroenterology, cardiology, urology, hematology, dermatology, pulmonology, oncology, neurology, otolaryngology and ophthalmology. 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 preventive care, we also offer microchip identification in case your pet should become lost, nutritional and behavioral counseling, internal medicine services, soft tissue and orthopedic surgery, advanced diagnostic testing capabilities, and much more.

Perhaps the most important piece of your pet's care is strong client/doctor communication. Steele Creek Animal Hospital genuinely seeks your input about your pet's health and wants you to voice any concerns so that we can 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 preventive health care plan, your pet may experience an illness or injury. The skill, experience and extensive education of our Steele Creek Animal Hospital 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 Steele Creek Animal Hospital and why we believe they are important for the care of your pet. Then feel free to give us a call at (704) 588-4400 to make an appointment or for more information.

Wellness ExamsYour Pet's Wellness Exam: The Standard of Lifetime Care

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

A routine examination provides you and your veterinarian the opportunity to develop a picture of your pet's overall health as well as to identify potential medical issues before they become serious health concerns. It is 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 Steele Creek Animal Hospital 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 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 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 checkups 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 Steele Creek Animal Hospital.

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 to minimize your pet's discomfort.

A comprehensive physical exam, performed by a Steele Creek Animal Hospital veterinarian, is the best tool available for evaluating your dog's, cat's or other pet's health status. The results of this important examination help you and your veterinarian make informed decisions about the care of your special companion.

Fecal Exam and Blood Tests

Laboratory work - A complete examination includes heartworm testing, urinalysis, a chemistry panel and blood cell count screening for the presence of underlying disease processes. This screening also creates 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. Parasites such as hookworms and roundworms are considered zoonotic, which means they can affect humans too.

A fecal exam for intestinal parasites and blood tests are important components of your pet's wellness examination.

At Home - Watch for Changes

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.

VaccinesVaccines for Your Pets

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, Leptospirosis, Lyme disease and other diseases in your dog and feline leukemia, panleukopenia, and rabies in cats. Our staff at Steele Creek Animal Hospital 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 Animal Hospital 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 DA2PP. When Leptospirosis is added, it is called DA2PPL. Rabies is also a core vaccine for dogs and is a requirement for all dogs living in the states of North Carolina and South Carolina.

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.

Non-Core Vaccines for Dogs

Non-core vaccines for dogs include Bordetella 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, groomers, or any other location where he / she is exposed to other dogs. Bordetella vaccination is required for dogs boarding at Steele Creek Animal Hospital.

Bordetella is highly contagious, easily transmitted through the air or direct contact, and fairly resistant to destruction in the environment.

Leptospirosis is caused by a bacteria found in soil, water, and the urine of infected animals. It affects dogs but can also infect other animals, including humans. If not diagnosed and treated early, Leptospirosis can be deadly.

The Leptospirosis bacteria can survive in water and is frequently found in swamps, streams, lakes, and standing water. The bacteria also lives in moist soil and outbreaks occur often after flooding. Your veterinarian will recommend Leptospirosis vaccination if your dog is at risk.

Non-Core Vaccines for Cats

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is a contagious disease of cats and spreads primarily through intimate nose-to-nose contact with infected saliva. This very often occurs during cat fights, grooming, and mating. Contaminated urine, blood, and feces are also sources of infection.

Though FeLV is not a core vaccine, it is recommended for cats at risk of exposure to this dangerous disease. Your veterinarian at Steele Creek Animal Hospital will recommend FeLV vaccination if your cat is at risk. To provide your cat with proper immunity, FeLV vaccine needs to be given twice during the first year and once-a-year afterwards.

Preventive CareFleas 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. 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 and in your pet's environment for up to 100 days. The eggs in carpets and upholstery can lie dormant for up to 8 months. The best management techniques of flea-proofing your home includes 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 transmit many 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.

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 veterinarians or staff members at Steele Creek Animal Hospital to recommend the flea and tick prevention product that is best suited for your pet and your home environment.

Heartworm 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 larvae migrate through the bloodstream and move 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.

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. 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.

Heartworm disease prevention is simple. For dogs, a once-a-month heartworm preventative can be given as a tasty treat. Prevention is also conveniently available in an injectible form given by your pet's veterinarian every 6 months. These same medications not only prevent heartworms from developing, but also kill and prevent most other types of worms that can infect your dog. Cats are protected by applying a dropper 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.

Because heartworm disease is increasing in frequency and is a serious and deadly disease, we recommend that your dog be tested annually. This recommendation is based on the knowledge that occasionally dogs do not absorb the medication properly due to vomiting or diarrhea, owners occasionally miss doses, as well as potential resistance of the heartworm larvae to the heartworm prevention medication. Testing for the presence of heartworms is recommended for cats showing abnormal respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, or vomiting.

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 Steele Creek Animal Hospital today for an appointment.

Puppy CarePuppy and Kitten Care

Bringing a new puppy or kitten into your home is always something to celebrate. They add energy and fun and are a source of unceasing affection as they bond with you and your family.

However, young pets require a little extra attention to ensure they get a good, healthy start at life. This means that comprehensive physical exams at key developmental stages by one of the Steele Creek Animal Hospital veterinarians are essential. Any time that you get a new pet, it is important to schedule an appointment right away so that we may review their prior medical records and make timely recommendations for appropriate wellness care.

Your first visits with your new puppy or kitten at Steele Creek Animal Hospital are perhaps the most important. These initial visits are where you, one of our doctors and your pet first meet and begin to form the relationship that lasts throughout the life of your pet. We take plenty of time with these visits to give your puppy or kitten a thorough examination, talk with you about concerns you may have, offer health care and training advice, and more.

Some of the issues discussed during your kitten's first visits include:

  • Diet discussion, including types of food that are best for cats' unique requirements.
  • Vaccine protocol
  • Litter and litter box discussion
  • Behavior discussion
  • Should my cat be allowed to go outdoors?
  • Spaying and neutering recommendations
  • Declawing- Should I or shouldn't I?
  • Discussion of pet health insurance. Should I get pet health insurance? What should I look for in a company?
  • Microchipping - Should I get this done? When is the best time to do this?
  • Fecal exam and treatment for worms and other intestinal parasites
  • Testing for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
  • Discussion about fleas (treatment and prevention) and heartworm disease
  • Complete physical exam which includes detection of potential congenital problems and anything else you may want to discuss. This is your new kitten and we're happy to answer any questions.

Some of the issues discussed during your puppy's first visits include:

  • Diet discussion, including types of food to feed and guidelines on feeding intervals and quantities
  • Formulation of an individualized vaccine protocol
  • Housetraining discussion
  • Behavior discussion
  • Spaying and neutering advice - Is this best for my dog? If I decide to spay/neuter, when is the best time to have this done?
  • Discussion on pet health insurance - Should I get pet health insurance? What should I look for in a company?
  • Discussion about heartworm, fleas and ticks
  • Microchipping - Should I get this done? When is the best time to do this?
  • Fecal exam and treatment for worms and other intestinal parasites
  • Complete physical exam which includes detection of potential congenital problems and anything else you may want to discuss. This is your new puppy and we're happy to answer any questions.

A complete physical exam includes detection of potential congenital problems and covers any topic you'd like to discuss. This is your new pet and we know you have many questions.

Care for Your Senior Pet

In recent years, great strides have been made in recognizing the special needs and requirements of our "senior citizen" dogs and cats. The veterinarians at Steele Creek Animal Hospital have the knowledge and diagnostic tools to identify age related problems and formulate realistic strategies to help your pets live longer and healthier lives. If your dog is seven to nine years of age or older (depending on breed) or your cat is 8 years of age or older, it is now in its senior years. We are happy to discuss with you our recommendations for senior testing and diets.

By taking the time to learn more about the special needs of your senior-aged pet, you have taken the first step toward providing the best care for your friend in its golden years. At Steele Creek Animal Hospital, we are proud of the special interest we take in geriatric medicine and care of your senior pet.

SeniorPets in their senior years begin to go through a gradual reduction of their physical capabilities. However, this process can be slowed and managed through proper veterinary care thereby offering your beloved pet an extended period of vitality and good health. Additionally, preventive care tailored to your pet's age, lifestyle, risk factors and other elements can help prevent common diseases or detect them at early and easily treatable stages.

Your Role in Caring for Your Senior Pet

There is also an important role for you to play as your pet's primary caregiver. While you cannot control age related decline, you can influence your pet's activity level, living conditions, access to quality senior medical care, and daily nutrition. With your veterinarian's help, you can manage these factors in order to prolong your pet's good health, vitality, and increase his or her wellbeing, even as your pet's pace slows a bit.

The best time to begin your pet's senior care program and recognize the need for a little extra TLC is well before age related conditions begin to set in. For this reason, the staff at Steele Creek Animal Hospital recommends regular senior wellness exams, which should include specialized laboratory tests to detect the early signs of disease processes. Dental care at this point in life becomes even more important. We recommend regular dental exams and cleanings for all pets, but especially those in their senior years. Diet and weight gain or loss are also important issues to keep an eye on. When you bring your pet in for a senior wellness visit, your veterinarian will evaluate his or her weight and offer recommendations based on what they see.

Wellness Laboratory Testing: Vital for Your Senior Pet

Wellness testing is offered to all patients during their annual and senior pet examination visit at a very reasonable fee. The tests allow for early detection of internal problems prior to onset of symptoms. Most medical conditions in senior pets can be managed more easily, successfully and cost efficiently when diagnosed early.

We all value the affection we share with our pets. Nothing helps that friendship more than working with your veterinarian to maintain your pet's health and quality of life. As your pet ages, changes occur in his or her physical condition that warrants veterinary care. You want to develop a complete senior health maintenance program with your veterinarian at Steele Creek Animal Hospital to provide optimal care for your older pet.

Answers to Questions You May Have about Your Senior Pet

At what age is my pet considered "old?"

The aging process varies with breed and lifestyle. Your veterinarian will follow these guidelines to help determine when your pet reaches the "golden years."

Small dogs (less than 20 pounds) over 9 years
Medium dogs (21-50 pounds) over 8 years
Large dogs (51-90 pounds) over 7 years
Giant dogs (over 90 pounds) over 6 years
Cats (most breeds) over 8 years

What do I do if my pet is overweight?

Older pets are apt to gain weight as the body's metabolism and the pet's activity level slow down. Therefore, food consumption must be balanced with the activity level of your pet. Your veterinarians can recommend appropriate exercise and a proper diet to meet your pet's needs. We can serve as your support team for your pet's weight loss program.

What do I do if my pet is underweight?

There are a number of conditions that may cause senior pets to lose weight despite seeming to feel reasonably well. In cats, common conditions include dental disease, hyperthyroidism, early kidney disease, and muscle wasting due to inactivity from osteoarthritis. Older dogs also can lose muscle mass from inactivity resulting from joint pain. Early stages of heart or kidney diseases and digestive disorders, like dental diseases, can result in weight loss. Of course, cancer must also be considered in both dogs and cats with unexplained weight loss.

How often should I exercise my pet?

Regular exercise is important to maintain bone strength, muscle tone, and stamina. Taking daily walks and playing with your pet are excellent methods of promoting physical activity as well as enjoying their companionship. However, if your pet has difficulty standing up or walking, degenerative joint disease, or arthritis, may be the problem. Arthritis is a common ailment in older dogs and cats, often impairing the ability to walk. Cats are better at hiding this disease by simply "resting" more.

If you think your pet has arthritis or another painful condition, schedule an examination right away. There are many ways to manage pain in your pet and keep them comfortable and mobile.

How important is dental care even though my pet is old?

Very important! Tooth loss and gum diseases are more common as your pet gets older. Such problems may make eating painful for your pet. Tumors of the mouth and gums also are more likely to appear in an older pet. Your veterinarian will perform dental exams and cleanings as determined by the condition of your pet's teeth and will educate you on home dental care.

How often should I groom my pet?

Weekly grooming is an ideal time to look for external parasites, as well as notice the general condition of the skin and especially the eyes, ears, mouth, paws, anus, and genitalia. Because your pet is getting older, it is important to know that skin problems may occur more often since the skin may be thinner, less elastic, and does not repair itself quickly. If it seems that your pet is losing more hair, this may be due to disease or because hair follicles are not as active as in the younger years. Tumors in and under the skin become more likely with age. If you happen to notice any abnormal odors, discharges, swellings, or lumps during grooming, report them immediately to your veterinarian.

WellnessWhat other changes might I expect in my pet?

As your dog ages, a number of degenerative changes may occur which can affect your pet's behavior. Hearing and vision may appear to decrease. This decrease may be due to specific diseases involving the eyes or ears or may be related to various behavioral changes. You might interpret this as simple aging, but it actually might be due to a treatable geriatric disease, such as cognitive dysfunction. Some typical signs include confusion, disorientation, decreased activity, changes in the sleep/wake cycle, loss of housetraining, or signs which suggest a decrease in your dog's interest in, or ability to interact with its environment or with you. You should contact your veterinarian on how to diagnose and manage your pet's particular problems.

You also should be aware of any unusual changes in activity level and attitude, appetite, water intake, urination, bowel movements, or body weight. These and other signs of illness such as vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, or sneezing, should be promptly reported to your veterinarian.

Is a senior exam different from my pet's usual exam?

Generally, a senior exam consists of a thorough physical examination coupled with more extensive testing for various conditions that are commonly found in older pets. They are also examined more frequently, typically every six months or sooner, based on their overall health and condition.

Laboratory work is often done as part of a senior exam, including a blood chemistry panel, complete blood count, thyroid function test, and urinalysis. Endocrine and other laboratory tests may be performed if your veterinarian feels they are necessary. Screening for high blood pressure and glaucoma is also recommended. Chest and/or abdominal radiographs may be suggested based on exam findings. It is important to establish a baseline of normal for your pet in order to readily identify changes.

Even if your pet seems perfectly healthy, regular senior check-ups are important to manage many of the changes associated with aging. Dogs and cats over seven years of age should be examined by a veterinarian twice a year. The incidence of cancer increases with age, and cancer occurs frequently in pets after the age of ten.

A complete senior health maintenance program can provide a means to target age-related health problems, institute preventive health care measures, and detect any disorders early enough to provide the appropriate medical attention.

This program also educates you, the pet owner, on health risks to your older pet and preventive steps you can take.

All of these components as well as following your veterinarian's recommendations for exercise, administration of any medication, and a proper diet are essential to the health and quality of life of your older pet.

If you have any questions or would like to set up a senior wellness exam for your pet, please call Steele Creek Animal Hospital at (704) 588-4400.