Willowrun Veterinary Hospital

Preventative Care

Preventing major illness and disease before they happen is the best way to care for your pet’s health. You’ll find a full range of preventative care options at Willowrun Veterinary Hospital, including wellness exams, vaccinations, and more.


Animals cannot tell us when they are feeling unwell. For this reason, routine examinations are crucial to the health and wellbeing of pets, because a veterinarian has the opportunity to catch diseases before they become serious enough to affect the animal's quality of life.

During the early stages, the symptoms of a disease or illness may be very subtle. Even the most attentive and caring owner may miss them. But routine veterinary examinations and lab results can accurately assess if a disease is affecting your pet.

We recommend examinations twice a year for adult animals who do not have a history of chronic disease. For puppies, kittens, adolescents, and seniors, or pets with a chronic condition, more frequent examinations are recommended.

During an examination, the veterinarian will conduct a physical exam which will consist of the following:

  • Looking into the mouth at the teeth and gums
  • Inspecting the coat and skin
  • Feeling the abdomen and muscles for irregularities
  • Weighing the pet
  • Listening to the heart and lungs with a special instrument
  • Checking for abnormal lumps or bumps

The physical examination can reveal a great deal of useful information for our experienced veterinarians.

In addition, we will also conduct a few routine tests. A fecal exam, for example, is recommended for every animal at least once a year. This is because intestinal parasites are one of the most common ailments that pets face. Other tests that the doctor may call for would include bloodwork, a heartworm test, or a Lyme disease test, to name a few. The recommendations of the doctor will depend on the health status, lifestyle, and risk of exposure of the individual pet.


Vaccines are one of the most effective methods to prevent serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Their ability to save lives is so substantial, that some vaccines are even legally mandated.

Vaccines work by exposing the immune system to a very small and controlled dose of the particular virus. This gives the immune system the opportunity to produce special antigens to fight the disease. After this experience, the body will be better equipped to fight off the disease if ever exposed again. In essence, vaccinations are like a disease-fighting "practice" for the immune system.

Until a baby animal has received its vaccinations, it is not considered safe for them to be in public or around other animals. If you recently acquired a new puppy or kitten, avoid environments such as parks or boarding facilities until they have received all of their immunizations. This will protect both them and other animals they may encounter.

Our veterinarians extensively research and continuously read the most recent findings on animal vaccinations. We do the hard work so you don't have to. Our vaccine protocol is based on what is proven to be effective and safe.

Core vaccinations, or vaccinations recommended for all pets, include:

  • Canines: Rabies and DHLPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza)
  • Felines: Rabies and FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia)

Non-core vaccines that we may recommend based on the animal's lifestyle and risk of exposure include:

  • Canines: Bordetella, Lyme, and Canine Influenza
  • Felines: Feline Leukemia, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

Before your scheduled appointment, please try to have your animal's vaccination record available to show our veterinarians. This will help them to decide what your pet should receive during the appointment.

Parasite Control

Parasites subsist by stealing the nutrients of a host. Common parasites that pets often contract include fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal worms. Not only are these unwanted pests annoying and unhygienic, but they can also be dangerous to your pet's health.

To prevent parasite infestations, your pet should be on a preventative year-round. There are many varieties to choose from, including chews, topical treatments, special collars, and more. If you would like help choosing the best form of protection for your pet, please feel encouraged to ask your veterinarian for their professional advice.

Another precaution that we suggest taking against parasites is twice yearly fecal exams. Because parasites are one of the most common ailments that pets face, this test is recommended to every client. Young animals, whose immune systems are not yet developed, are the most susceptible to intestinal parasites in particular.

There are many varieties of parasites, and each poses individual threats and requires individual treatment. Below is a list of some more parasite-specific information.

Fleas are insects that live in the coat and on the skin. Their main food source is blood, which they acquire by biting their host. Serious flea infestations can cause anemia and even death. One of the most telltale signs of fleas is persistent itching behavior. Keeping your pet well-groomed and on a preventative treatment can prevent fleas from invading your pet's skin and coat.

Ticks are insects that also consume the blood of a host animal to survive. In addition to being unsightly, ticks can carry several dangerous diseases - the most known of these being Lyme disease. Their highest populations are found in fields or wooded areas, but they can also be in your own backyard. To prevent ticks, check your pet's skin after spending time outside and keep them on continuous preventive medicine.

Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes. The warm and humid environment of North Carolina is a hot spot for mosquitoes, and therefore heartworms. The symptoms of heartworms are subtle in their early stages, but left untreated they will result in irreversible organ damage and death eventually. The treatment for heartworms is hard on pets, and not to mention expensive. Preventing mosquito bites is an almost impossible task, but if your dog is on continuous heartworm prevention medicine, they will be protected.


Every year, millions of dogs and cats are separated from their families and brought to animal shelters or veterinary offices by concerned citizens. Sadly, the majority of these pets will never find their way home. But pets who have a microchip are far more likely to be reunited with their owners!

Microchips are small devices implanted underneath the skin. Each microchip is programmed to have a unique code. Once you register your pet's microchip, the code will be associated with your contact information. Using a special scanner, a veterinarian or animal shelter worker will check your pet for a microchip if they become lost. If they have a chip, and it is registered, the animal care provider will be able to find your information in a secure national database. You will be contacted, and you and your pet will be able to have a happy reunion.

The microchip implantation process is safe and easy. No anesthetic is required, and the implantation takes only seconds. The microchip itself is only the size of a grain of rice, and the procedure is similar to that of a routine vaccination.

The microchip will be implanted between the pet's shoulder blades. This area is not very sensitive, and it is safe for the microchip to be there. The microchip is also made of biocompatible materials that will not degenerate over time. Therefore, once implanted, your pet will never be without your information for the rest of their lifetime.

If your pet is from an animal shelter or purchased from a breeder, they may already have a microchip. Be sure to ask the party that was responsible for them before if they know of the animal having one. If this is the case, you can register their previous microchip with your new contact information.

Should you ever move or get a new phone number, it's imperative that you update your pet's microchip to match your current contact information. A microchip cannot do its job without your most up-to-date contact information!

Nutrition & Weight Management

Your pet's food gives them the energy they need to run, play, and bond with their family. Adequate nutrition plays a critical role in overall health and wellbeing. Just like when people eat foods that are not nourishing, your pet will be unable to feel their best if their nutrition is not providing the adequate vitamins and minerals to their diet.

Our veterinary team can offer nutritional advice based on your pet's age, size, breed, energy level, and health history. For special cases, we can even help create nutrition plans custom-tailored to their needs. If your pet has a condition such as a thyroid disease, cancer, or diabetes, nutrition can play a significant role in their treatment plan.

In addition to what your pet is eating, how much they eat is also critical to their health. Approximately one out of every three pets in the United States are overweight or obese. Pets who fit the classifications of overweight or obese are more likely to develop chronic diseases and experience shortened life spans. Their day-to-day quality of life also suffers, because they are not fit and healthy enough to play and live as their heart desires.

If you suspect your pet is overweight, the first thing to do is schedule an appointment and ask a veterinary doctor for their professional opinion. They will take your pet's weight, breed, height, and bone structure into account to diagnose the condition.

Once a veterinarian helps you to take stock of the situation, they can also help you begin a weight loss plan formulated to your pet's specific needs.

Often the plan will involve the following actions:

  • Feeding a clinically proven metabolic food to support weight loss
  • Understanding portion control and not exceeding your pet's daily requirements
  • Implementing regular exercise into the pet's day-to-day life
  • Regularly weighing the pet to track their progress

Over time, we can help your pet to become trim and healthy again!

Join the Willowrun Veterinary Hospital Family Today!

Located on S Brightleaf Blvd between E Wilson St and E Stevens St. Directly across from Harper's Flea Market Mall and next to The Mulch Yard.

Phone: 919-934-1504

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