What do I do with a “healthy” pet?

Last year I was in to see my regular doctor due to my self-diagnosed (yes we doctors do it too!) certainty that I had gallstones (spoiler alert, I was wrong).  Do you know how many years it had been prior to that appointment since I had seen my regular doctor for a check-up; I could probably count them on one hand, but it would take a few fingers.

I am going to step out on a limb and make an assumption that the vast majority of readers of this blog are healthy individuals. Oh sure, we all get minor aches and pains, occasional headaches, etc., but in general I’d bet most of you (myself included) don’t visit your doctor unless you are ill. For some, I’d bet we could take that a step further to say you don’t visit your doctor unless you are VERY ill. It make sense right? Doctors see sick people and make them better, so why bother to see the doctor when you aren’t sick?

Many feel the same way about their pets. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard clients brag about the dog or cat they had growing up who NEVER saw a vet. To be honest, I grew up on a farm with a plethora of cats that kept the mouse population in the barn down to a dull roar. I know these did not make yearly visits to the vet for wellness exams or vaccinations, yet seemed to live happily for years and years.  Even though that experience was over twenty years ago, this is not a foreign concept to many individuals today.  If we only see the doctor ourselves when we are ill, the family pet shouldn’t have to endure the stress of a visit to the doctor unless he/she appears to be sick, or is in need of that legally mandated rabies vaccination, right? Wrong.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, pets sometimes have a tough time telling us when they are sick or in pain. Maybe its their inability to form sentences, or even their stoic nature (particularly in felines), but we frequently don’t know our pet is having a problem until the problem becomes severe. The single best way to stay on top of your pet’s health needs is to schedule a vet check-up for your dog or cat each year. In reality we should think of these visits as a yearly check-up with the hope of also boosting any necessary vaccines, rather than a vaccine appointment where the dog or cat is also receiving a check-up.

During a traditional wellness visit the staff at SportsVet will obtain a thorough history of your pet’s current behavior. This is important information that allows the veterinarian to pay extra attention to a particular portion of your pet’s examination. Is Fluffy drinking and urinating more frequently in the past 6 months? An in-house blood panel can be run to rule out the possibility for kidney disease or diabetes. Perhaps Butch hasn’t been eating well the past few weeks and no longer likes to chew on his favorite bone. This would prompt me to perform an extra thorough oral examination to look for evidence of dental disease, or some sort of painful oral lesion. If you tell our technicians you haven’t noticed any abnormalities in your pet’s behavior it’s still important that the vet perform a full “nose to tail” examination of your pet as the veterinarian may notice a lump or rash that was previously unseen, or perhaps a broken tooth that is not currently causing problems but could lead to a tooth root abscess down the road. Our ability to address these minor abnormalities prevents a decrease in the quality of life of your pet further down the road.  Having a regular check-up, +/- vaccinations for your pet is an area of medicine that we refer to as “preventive medicine”.

“Preventive medicine” serves a purpose to help your pet maintain a healthy lifestyle for as long as possible. The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly holds true when it comes to pet health. The cost of prevention is often a fraction of the cost of treating a disease or problem once it has become more advanced, and early diagnosis and treatment of developing problems or diseases can increase the likelihood of successful outcomes. Preventive medicine includes regular wellness visits, prophylactic dental cleanings, vaccination against infectious disease, weight management, and close attention to other areas related to the health of your pet (Specific guidelines can be found on the AAHA Preventive Healthcare website which we have linked below).

No one loves your pet as much as you do, and although you will know best when Fido seems a bit “off”, preventive medicine will allow us to keep Fido from having to experience unnecessary pain or illness for years to come.  Therefore we recommend bringing your pet in for examination at least once a year.  While you are here we ask that you let us know of any concerns you may be having with your furry baby because honestly we care about their health and well-being just as much as you do!

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For more information on the specific canine and feline preventive health guidelines, click here.

Author: SportsVet AMC

Welcome to SportsVet Animal Medical Center's veterinary blog! Every member of our team is dedicated to building, supporting, and maintaining positive and rewarding relationships between pets and their owners. Our veterinary focus is on enhancing life, optimizing function, and maximizing performance for every patient. We will periodically be posting about veterinary healthcare, helpful tips, important facts about your beloved pet, and every topic in between. Have a topic that you are particularly interested in, and want to know more? Contact us to request a blog post directly from our team!

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