River City Companion Animal Hospital

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Annual Visit~ It's More Than Just Vaccines

The Importance of Wellness Exams

Most of us see our doctors once a year.  We get a good physical exam, check out our weight ( ugh! ), our vital signs, and age appropriate lab work.  We know this is necessary for our overall health.  We want to be sure to catch any illness or disorder early so it can be treated.  Makes complete sense right?   So doesn’t it make sense that a yearly wellness exam is just as important for your pets? 

Your pet’s “annual visit” is about so much more than vaccines.  During a physical exam your veterinarian can find skin issues, growths, weight changes, and dental disease~ things that can easily go undetected at home.   Finding illnesses in the early stages allows for treatment to begin sooner often saving lives and money.

Dental disease is probably the most common abnormality diagnosed during a physical exam.  80% of dogs and 70% of cats have periodontal disease by the age of 3.  If left untreated, it can decrease life expectancy up to 20%.

While the physical exam allows us to see the outside of your pet, annual lab work gives us a “picture” of the inside.  This is especially important for our senior pets.   Even the simplest thing like a little weight loss can indicate illness.   Age appropriate lab work and a urinalysis allows your veterinarian to ensure the kidneys, liver, thyroid, and heart, and other internal organs are functioning as they should.  Since our pets can’t talk and tell us when something is wrong, yearly lab work can save us time and money in the long run.

Checking for internal and external parasites yearly is essential.  Internal parasites are fairly common and can be contracted anywhere~dog parks, while out on a walk, the beach, and even by drinking contaminated water.  Testing your pet annually and treating as needed will keep your pet healthy and eliminate the risk of your family members from being infected as well.  Heartworms affect more than just the heart and are easily prevented.  Annual testing is recommended by the AVMA and is done with a simple blood draw.   We recommend Proheart 6, a twice yearly injection, for year-round prevention for your companion.

This is also the perfect time to ask any questions, discuss diet, behavioral issues, flea control, or anything that comes to mind.   

Wellness exams are one of the  most important things we can do for our pets to help ensure a longer, healthier, life.