My pet isn’t sick, why should we go to the vet?
Many animal guardians have a preconceived notion that animals only need routine yearly vaccinations, going to the veterinarian only when pets are acutely ill and consequently often presenting as a crisis to the veterinary clinic. It is important, however, to understand that the word “doctor” literally means “teacher” in Latin. It is very important to maintain a relationship with a competent veterinarian who can help guide your pet’s preventative care in order to avoid the insidious development of chronic disease, or the sudden crisis situation.
As for vaccination, every pet’s vaccination needs and requirements should be evaluated, depending on the life style, age and breed of the animal. Sadly, far too often today, pets are over-vaccinated, which often potentially leads to its own fair share of chronic, immune-mediated disease conditions. It is important, therefore, to seek out a veterinarian who is familiar with more modern, non-overkill vaccination protocols. Very often this will require seeking out the services of a holistic minded veterinarian.
While the incidence of certain deadly viral infectious diseases is most common in puppies or kittens, pets also suffer from many of the same chronic medical conditions that humans do, as they age. Because many pets mask clinical disease symptoms very well, early detection can be difficult for even the most observant animal guardian.
Starting as young adults, I recommend at least twice-yearly evaluations of companion animals, often offering wellness blood and urine testing to detect early organ pathology and heartworm status, as well as fecal parasite exams to detect intestinal worms. A thorough physical exam allows veterinarians to pick up early disease, including early heart issues (by listening carefully to the rate and rhythm of the heart, and whether a heart murmur is present), as well as early periodontal disease of the mouth, which if untreated can lead infections and to other organ problems of the liver, kidney and/or heart. Careful palpation of the abdomen allows the veterinarian to pick up early organ enlargements or sensitivity, in order to help with early disease detection.
Many pets, including even feline companions, may suffer from degenerative joint disease and/or spinal disease, especially as they age. Routine veterinary exams are even important for guardians of indoor-only feline companions, because many cats do not express symptoms of disease until often the condition is very advanced. Routine veterinary consultation also allows the animal guardian to discuss diet and/or nutritional supplement protocols, which are also critical in keeping pets healthy at various stages of their life.