Many pets, especially cats, do not get seen at least once a year by their vet for an annual exam. This is a missed opportunity for both the vet and the pet owner to discuss the health, behavioral issues and habits of the pet. Unfortunately, the only one who suffers in this case, is the pet. With unchecked aging bodies, illness' are allowed to creep up unnoticed until it can be too late.
Most people feel that the annual exam is meant to just get their pet vaccine boosters, and therefore, if they do not believe in vaccines or frequent vaccination, that they do not need to go for an annual exam. On the contrary, vaccines are just one part of the annual exam. If you don't believe in having them done, discuss your concerns with the vet and hear them out. Some vets may elect to give vaccines every few years or even check titers instead, so at least go for the yearly exam and see what they recommend. They are, after all, only looking out for your pets best interest.
Pet obesity is on the rise and the annual exam is the perfect opportunity to tackle a potential weight problem (whether too thin or overweight). Your veterinary team will have a lot of tips and tricks to help your pet succeed with his weight issue. A new food may be in order and they can recommend the best one for your pets size, age and medical conditions. They also want to hear the challenges you are having with your pets weight loss/gain plan so that they can make adjustments to make it easier for you and your pet to stick with it. Communication is the key.
The annual vet check is also a great opportunity to talk about behavioral troubles you might be having with your pet. Maybe your dog just won't stop pulling on her leash when walking, or maybe your cat keeps howling in the night and keeping you awake. These are all things that your vet can help you determine the cause and solution for. Veterinary technicians also have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to training and problem solving, so don't be afraid to ask them for help either.
As pets age, their bodies become more fragile and they are more likely to suffer injuries and illness'. An annual exam by your vet can often catch some of the illness' before they become serious and unmanageable. I once received a call from an upset pet owner who's senior cat was doing her business outside of the litter and also seemed withdrawn from the family. The owner felt that it was time to have her beloved pet euthanized as she could not stand watching her pet suffer. After a discussion with her about her cats new habit, we determined that she likely just couldn't get into the litter box due to her advancing arthritis. With a change of box type and a prescription for some pain relief to manage her arthritis, we bought this pet owner several more months with her cat and the kitty was much more comfortable. Without already having a solid relationship with this pets history, there would have been many more steps and diagnostics that would have had to been done in order to determine the cause of the problem. I will always remember the gratitude I received from pet owner.
Pets, like people, need to be seen regularly by a veterinarian in order to actively prevent things from getting out of control. From here on out, make every year you pets best year for preventative medicine. They will thank you for it!
Don't forget to share your stories and thoughts below. Do you take your pet to the vet at least once a year? If not, why not?
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