A pet visiting the vet once a year is comparable to a human visiting their doctor just once in 7 years.
It is hard to believe , but kittens and puppies routinely die from lack of simple vaccinations, which prevent “childhood diseases” such as distemper and parvovirus. These horrible and deadly diseases are nearly 100% preventable when proper vaccinations and boosters are given.
Separately, but just as importantly, at an annual checkup, the veterinarian will give your pet a thorough exam including a measurement of weight, feel their kidneys, and listen to their heart/lungs, in addition to checking their eyes, ears, and teeth.
Cats ages 1-8 years can have heart problems, teeth and gum problems, obesity, and urinary tract issues. Young, indoor, healthy looking cats are often discovered dead by their stunned owners who can not believe that heart disease took their life. Unlike dogs and people, cats don’t cough or appear tired when they have a heart problem. A vet may hear a heart murmur months or years before a cat will ultimately show signs of heart failure. Caught early, heart issues can be easily controlled with simple medications such as a topical cream put on the cat’s ear once a day.
If your cat urinates outside of the litter box more than once, call your vet! Unfortunately, most people mistakenly believe that if their cat is urinating outside the litter box, whether on the rug, their gym bag, on the bed, in the tub, or right in front of them, that the cat is being “bad” or “spiteful”. In fact, your cat is trying desperately to communicate to you that he/she has a medical problem – perhaps painful urination resulting from a urinary tract and/or bladder infection, or urinary crystals. Just as the pain of a human urinary tract infection can be excruciating, cats suffer the same pain, and can associate the litter box with the pain of urinating.
Certain breeds of dogs are prone to bladder stones; which are common, easy to detect, but if not detected early, can become very expensive to treat. If you have the pleasure of owning a Schnauzer, Maltese, Bichon Frise, Poodle, or Yorkie, of if your dog is a mix of any of those breeds, their urine should be checked once a year, particularly if they are prone to urinary accidents in the house.
There is a “2 in 1” test that checks for Lyme disease and Heartworm disease, both of which are transmitted by insects. Heartworm disease is spread via mosquito bite. It is asymptomatic and not detected unless a yearly blood test picks it up. Should a dog test positive for Heartworm disease, today’s treatment is fairly easy. Heartworm preventative can be given once monthly to prevent this disease.
As your pet comes into its “golden years” after the age of 7 for dogs and 8 for cats, annual blood work takes on even more importance. Checking liver and kidney values can detect problems early on – about 20% of senior pets will have underlying problems revealed by blood work that would not have shown during a physical exam. With the benefit of early detection, many diseases can be treated.
Lastly, just as the human body ages and can becomes stiff and sore with arthritis, our pet companions feel the aches and pains of aging too!. Many cats and dogs over the age of 7 are afflicted with arthritis, the number one cause of chronic pain in dogs. Your vet can help diagnose this and give you advice on how to manage their pain. Animals suffer silently and we can improve the quality of life for our beloved senior pets.
Do the right thing and take your pet(s) to the vet once a year for a thorough check up. Our dogs and cats give us unconditional love and we in turn, have the pleasure and privilege of caring for them. Part of being a responsible and loving pet owner is attending to the healthcare needs of our furry companions who rely on us to keep them healthy and happy.