Annual examinations are important for all ages of pets
The New Year has arrived! We all have our resolutions made for what great, positive changes we will make for ourselves, our families and our work, but what about our pets? As we glance over at our new puppy who arrived on Christmas day, or see our geriatric kitty walking slower across the kitchen floor, the thought occurs to us, perhaps this year it is time for positive resolutions with respect to the care of our pets.
Each week, in my mobile veterinary unit as well as my clinical practice, I see many pets, ranging from ages of 8 weeks to 16 years!
I so often have found in my many years of practice, that owner’s truly do not know what “Veterinary Care” is appropriate for their pet, or even if it is needed. The truth is, all pets need veterinary care, and it would be a terrific resolution for you and your family to make your pet’s care on top of the list for your New year’s lists!
Pets need veterinary care at all ages and for many reasons.
First of all, young puppies and kittens need preventative vaccinations, which vary on exposure to other pets and travel , but there are core vaccinations that all pets need. Starting at the age of 8-9 weeks, a new pup or kitten should get a good physical examination for starters. During that examination, your veterinarian can advise you on proper nutrition for your growing pet, vaccination schedules, behavioral recommendations, potty training, spaying and neutering as well as parasite control. These foundation visits are critical in starting your pet off with a healthy start for a long life!
After the first year, Annual examinations are recommended for pets. Each year, we as veterinarians like to assess the overall health of your pet, it’s weight, diet, general health, travel history, and again need for vaccinations or vaccination titers. During these “annual examinations” for pets, typically between the ages of 1-8 years, the veterinarian will do a very complete physical examination, just like you would have on yourself! The ears, eyes, and dental health are immediately assessed, as well as heart, lungs, abdominal organs, bones, joints and skin. A baseline bloodwork is often established to assess internal organ function as well as a fecal exam to look for internal parasites. Should you plan to travel with your pet, the appropriate vaccinations as well as preventative parasite medications would be discussed.
The “senior” years for your pets arrive quickly, often at age 5-6 for very large dogs, 8-9 for smaller dogs. Senior pet examinations by your veterinarian are as important, if not more important, than all the other years, for so many reasons and are actually recommended every 6 months rather than annually.. IT’s during that senior pet examination that your veterinarian will assess the changing nutritional needs with seniors, the impending arthritis that may be slowing your pet down, or even the increase in thirst you are noticing in your cat. Any senior pet should have a good physical exam , as it is during that exam, that changes in weight can be assessed, perhaps changes in behaviors such as eating, drinking , urinating and defecating will be key in detecting any disease processes early to “head off” emergency visits down the road. During this time, it is critical to have a good senior work up, including baseline bloodwork, urinealysis, fecal, and possibly xrays or even ultrasound, should any abnormalities in the exam or bloodwork warrant further looking. As veterinarians we advocate that “prevention “ is the best medicine, and thus this points out again, the importance of a visit to your veterinarian at all ages during your pet’s life.