The Importance of the Annual Veterinary Examination

Revised 8/23/16

Cat at vetWith the current controversy surrounding annual vaccinations, many people are electing to have their pets get fewer vaccines. This has led to the assumption that they do not need to bring them in for an annual examination. However, even if your pet is not getting any vaccines, it is still essential that your veterinarian have the opportunity to give your animal companion a thorough examination at least every year (more often in some situations). This applies not just to cats and dogs, but also ferrets, birds, rabbits, reptiles, horses, and other pets. Why?

1. By checking your pet regularly, your veterinarian can catch potential problems early. For instance, it is estimated that 85% of dogs and cats who go to the vet for any reason have significant dental disease. Left untreated, dental disease can lead to painful tooth decay as well as systemic illness due to chronic infection. Bacteria from infected teeth can enter the bloodstream and “seed” other organs such as liver, kidneys, and heart, causing damage to those organs. Every vet can tell a dozen stories of serious problems such as cancer and heart disease that were discovered at an annual exam, even though the animal seemed normal at home. Because many animals tend to be very stoic, they often do not show symptoms until disease is very advanced. Early diagnosis increases the chances of successful intervention and treatment.

2. A rough estimate of cat/dog years to human years is about 5:1 after the first two years (which equal about 10 years each). If your pet does not visit the veterinarian annually, this is the same as you not having a check-up for ten years or more. And while you would know if you were having pain or not feeling good, your pet cannot tell you if she has a problem. By examining your animal and asking you about her appetite and behavior, your veterinarian can assess her health more fully and make appropriate recommendations to keep her as healthy as possible.

3. Veterinary medicine is in a constant state of change and advancement. New information becomes available virtually every day. The annual visit is a good time for your vet to communicate to you any recent developments that could affect your pet’s health. For example, pet vaccination recommendations have changed radically in the past few years, and continue to change today. Additionally, there is new information coming out all the time on diet and disease that may affect what you feed your pet.

Check out this video featuring Dr. Jane Brunt of the CATalyst Council for more information about taking your cat to the vet.

The annual veterinary exam is a small investment of time, effort and money that will more than pay for itself in better health and longer life for your animal companion

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