Veterinary Checkups: How Often are they Really Required?Published May 12, 2009
I was rather amazed and somewhat alarmed at the results of one of the most recent polls on Petside.com. The question was "How often do you take your pet to the vet?" The results were: (28.57%): once a year (12.99%): every 3 months (18.18%): twice a year (40.26%): only when they're sick or need shots After I participated in the poll and learned that I was in the 18.18% of responders who picked "twice a year" as an answer. What concerned me greatly was the rather overwhelming majority of folks who take their pets to the vet only when their pets are sick or need "annual" vaccinations. Based on my 40 plus years of experience being owned by some amazing kitties, I feel strongly that that it is crucial that all pets minimally have annual wellness exams performed by a vet. Once a health baseline is established, it is much easier for our veterinarians to catch any subtle changes in our pet's physical condition. Since animals age approximately seven times more "rapidly" than humans, it is far more essential that annual exams are performed to rule out any serious illnesses, any physical discomfort and hidden injuries. Since my cats are now senior "catizens", they receive bi-annual exams. Additionally, as our pets get older, routine blood tests and other diagnostic tests given will be able to facilitate the diagnosis of any serious underlying medical conditions. Early detection and treatment can add many years of excellent quality to our pet's lifespan. Aging pets are at risk for diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid conditions and other medical problems. If these conditions are discovered early they are far easier to be successfully treated or controlled. Additionally the cost of veterinary care through early detection is frequently far less expensive than a condition which has remained dormant or undiscovered for long periods of time. Annual visits allow our vets to monitor our pet's weight more accurately. Since obesity is a common problem for our pets, due to overfeeding, giving those extra yummy treats too often and lack of exercise, the annual examination is an ideal time to discuss any needed dietary changes. Overweight pets are at high risk for heart disease and other serious medical conditions. Annual dental checkups, especially in older pets are essential to their overall health as well. Checking for and treating cavities, bad breath and oral infections can prevent a host of systemic problems, and help preserve our pet's wellbeing. There is nothing more rewarding to pet owners than a bright, white pet smile! The annual exam also provides us an opportunity to discuss any behavioral problems which may have presented themselves. Litter box avoidance and personality changes are often a sign that something is amiss. So that famous saying, "an ounce of prevention prevents a pound of cure" certainly applies to remind us to arrange those annual veterinary exams. How often do you bring your pet for a complete head to paw examination? Tell us about your veterinary schedules by leaving a comment.