As most people know, pets age faster than humans. Diseases like kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid disorders, arthritis, dental disease, ocular changes, cardiac disease and cancer are more common with age. While we can’t stop aging, veterinarians can take measures to ensure your pet stays healthy as long as possible. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association(AVMA) both recommend all dogs and cats have veterinary examinations at least once a year. Depending on your pets age and medical history your veterinarian may recommend more frequent examinations. Most veterinarians recommend that pets seven years or older have check-ups every 6 months. Check-ups allow your veterinarian to perform a comprehensive physical examination to look for early signs of disease.
During the check-up, your veterinarian will examine your pet from head to tail and look closley at their eyes, ears, teeth, heart, lungs, abdomen and skin. While it is true that pet parents know their pets better than anyone else, most do not routinely “examine” their pet. How many of us actually look inside our pet’s mouth, listen to their hearts, or palpate their abdomen? Not many I bet! Of course, these are all things your veterinarian will do and more when you bring your pet in for a routine check-up.
After obtaining a history and throughougly examing your pet, your veterinarian may suggest blood and urine tests depending on your pet’s age, health and physical exam findings. These tests allow your vet to screen for diseases that may not be evident on examination. Since our pets can’t talk, many diseases often go unnoticed until an animal is very ill. Routine examinations and diagnostic tests help us uncover diseases early.
The goal of annual examinations is to prevent illness and disease and to catch medical issues and problems early. The earlier diseases are discovered the better the odds are that your pet can be treated successfully. Waiting until your animal becomes ill and shows obvious signs and symptoms of their disease is not ideal. It can make treatment harder and more costly to treat because the condition is more advanced. So remember the goal is to detect diseases early while they are easier to treat.
Remember, an annual checkup is just as important for your pets as food and love. I know we all get busy, but I can’t stress enough the importance of regular veterinary examinations. As a mom I wouldn’t dare skip my child’s wellness visit to the pediatrician or dental check-up. Why? Because I love my kids and want the best for them and the same holds true for my animal babies. So if your pet hasn’t been to the vet in the last year, pick-up the phone and make an appointment today.