Preventative Veterinary Care in your Vail Valley Pet

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Preventative Veterinary Care in your Vail Valley Pet

The Importance of Preventative Veterinary Care

            The last time you went to the doctor for a check-up they probably asked if you wanted to schedule your next annual appointment for the following year. Human medical doctors recommend a yearly physical exam and likely annual bloodwork and other tests based on your age to help catch any impending diseases early and to ensure you are in the best possible health. The same is true for the beloved furry members of your family--the importance of catching and/or preventing diseases early is just as critical for our animals as it is for us.

            One of the easiest preventative measures you can take for your cat or dog, especially during the warmer months of the year, is to make sure they are not infected with external or internal parasites. Based on a physical exam and baseline tests, your veterinarian can treat your pet for any parasites they might currently have such as fleas, ticks, heartworms, or intestinal parasites, and then prescribe the appropriate preventative medication (usually in the form of a once-a-month oral formulation or topical solution). This is a simple way to prevent many of the deadly diseases that can be carried by these parasites like Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, let alone prevent the effects of the parasites themselves (itching, anemia, diarrhea, heart failure, etc).  This may not seem like a big deal, however, many of these preventable diseases can be transmitted to you and your family and can put your pet in the hospital for several days or even result in their death if not treated promptly.

            Your veterinarian’s physical exam itself can also reveal issues your pet may have that are easily overlooked at home on a daily basis. For example, dental disease is a very common issue that can be prevented with regular check-ups and dental prophylaxis procedures. This will help keep your pet from being in pain from periodontal disease, broken teeth, oral tumors, etc., especially if these issues are caught early. In dog breeds with long, floppy ears and narrow ear canals, or in dogs that go swimming regularly, ear infections can start forming that may be caught by your veterinarian during their exam. Again, early treatment and prevention is key to keeping your pet happy and healthy at home. Regularly cleaning your dog’s ears once a week and any time after bathing or swimming can help prevent the organisms that cause ear infections from multiplying. Heart disease is another issue your pet’s doctor can pick up early signs of during physical exam and by the answers to the history questions you answer during the appointment. If your veterinarian hears an irregular heartbeat or a heart murmur, they will likely recommend further testing to determine if your pet has heart disease and if they need to be taking medications that will help slow the progression of disease.

            As our pets age, more frequent check-ups and baseline laboratory diagnostics can go a long way in catching diseases early. Annual bloodwork, urine, and fecal tests for senior pets can catch liver and kidney diseases, endocrine issues, electrolyte abnormalities, and infections that become more prevalent as pets age. Additionally, performing senior screening x-rays of your pet’s chest and abdomen can help identify early organ enlargement or masses that cannot be felt or seen during a physical exam. This can give your pet’s medical team a valuable head-start on treating serious diseases such as cancer. Catching issues early in the disease process is an extremely valuable tool--however, ideally these screening tests come back normal, indicating that your dog or cat is still in good health. Performing these tests now provides your pet’s doctor

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