The saying "Prevention is better than cure" is so true, especially when it comes to your pets. To that end, the American Veterinary Medical Association has released guidelines on the best preventative health care program for pets to make sure they are getting everything they need to stay well. There aren't many guidelines and they're not too difficult to follow.
The key to preventative care for pets is the regular wellness exam. Depending on your pet's age and general health, this may occur once or twice a year. Your vet will give your pet a thorough examination and may recommend blood tests to screen for internal organ disease. The main aim of this annual or biannual visit is so that your vet can identify problems before they become severe, and for you to discuss any concerns you may have about your much-loved, four-legged family member.
One of the most significant health issues that may be noted during a wellness exam is obesity. Statistics suggest that over 50% of pets in the United States are overweight and this condition can have significant effects on their health. Obesity is associated with arthritis, diabetes, and a shortened lifespan. Your vet will evaluate your pet's Body Condition Score and discuss any changes to their diet that need to be made to keep them at a healthy weight.
Studies show that 85% of dogs over the age of three have some degree of dental disease. Cats can have very subtle tooth lesions that aren't always obvious to the naked eye but cause significant pain. The annual wellness exam is the perfect time to talk about appropriate dental care and to schedule an oral exam and teeth-cleaning session.
If you're noticing anything unusual about your pet's behavior, then make the most of your visit by discussing it with your vet. Anxiety, dementia, and pain can all cause behavioral problems, but there is often something that can be done to manage them.
Your vet can help you develop a plan to prevent internal and external parasites. Fleas and ticks, as well as intestinal worms and heartworm can make your pet seriously ill. With internal parasites, it's often not easy to see their effects until they are severe. Routine testing for the presence of parasites and regular use of a preventative are the key to keeping them at bay.
The last part of your wellness exam is a vaccination assessment. There are a number of deadly diseases that can be prevented with vaccination and all dogs need protection from them. Other vaccines may be optional depending on your pet's lifestyle. For example, if they enjoy a visit to the dog park or stay in boarding kennels, then protection from respiratory infections is appropriate. There is no one-size-fits-all vaccination program; each pet's needs are evaluated based on their particular circumstances.
It can be seen that your pet's wellness exam is a comprehensive evaluation of their current health status and what you need to do to keep them in good condition into the future. It's a very worthwhile investment in their well-being. If your pet hasn't been seen by their vet in the last twelve months, think about making an appointment to have them examined.