2012-01-20 / Columnists

Paws For A Moment

Veterinary Examination Schedules And What’s Really Needed!
Commentary by Karina B. Salvo

Is it that time of year again when you get that little card in the mail reminding you that your pet’s yearly exam is due? Often, along with that reminder is a laundry list of vaccines – fecal test, heartworm test and perhaps blood work! That is a lot to fit on one little reminder card! So what’s really needed?

As I have mentioned before, our pets’ lives are shorter than ours. They age more quickly than we do and hence, disease processes tend to occur more quickly with them. It is important to remember that. Why? Because we want out furry companions with us for as long as we can have them in our lives.

I always recommend having physical examinations every six months because of how quickly our pets’ lives can change. There are many things that can affect our pets’ lives, such as weight gain or loss, changes in physical activity and exercise programs, various types of foods and changes in eating habits and what is offered as well as new additions in the home (two legged and four legged variety), moving to a new home, change of seasons and effect on health and so much more. Many of these things can affect our pets’ lives without most of us realizing it. Having your veterinarian examine your pet twice a year and discuss these changes as well as keep a close watch of any changes from the prior exam is crucial in preventing or identifying changes in your pet’s health.

Identifying changes in your pet’s health early is an integral part of preventative medicine. It allows you to keep a better account of any and all changes during your pets’ lives so you are be able to discuss those changes with your veterinarian. For instance, the sooner a heart murmur is detected and monitored accordingly, the better you as a pet owner are at being aware of any changes that may be seen in your pet’s overall health that may be related to that heart murmur. They say ignorance is bliss ... but I believe it is more dangerous than blissful. Keeping an open discussion and communication with your veterinarian is important in that it allows you both to keep patient and animal family member in the best of health!

Now, what’s needed? Many in our elderly pet population have various changes in blood work that signifies changes in organ, endocrine or metabolic function. Many of these pets are on various medications. Illnesses or age related diseases are that – age related ... usually. I always say that not every dog and cat reads the books ... so everyone is different. Age is not a disease, but disease does occur more often with age. Many changes can be detected in general blood work ... yearly for those pets over the age of eight. Of course, monthly heartworm and flea and tick prevention is also highly recommended, not only by me, but also by the American Heartworm Society! (Prevention is key!)

Vaccination schedules ... tackling the laundry list of vaccines! I can be technical here or all encompassing, but I would prefer to be practical. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) lists two categories of vaccines; core and non-core. The AVMA recommends ‘core vaccines’. These are distemper and rabies. Also according to the AVMA, the non-core vaccines should be based on the pet’s lifestyle. For instance, if the pet rarely frequents tick prevalent areas, then lyme vaccine is not necessarily recommended, or if a dog frequents the dog park, visits with other dogs on a walk, frequents the groomer or is boarded, then a bordatella or kennal cough and the Canine Influenza vaccine are recommended. Each pet lives a different life, indoor, outdoor, doggie day camp or is the class clown at the boarding facility. So not every pet should obey any cookie-cutter vaccination program. Again, prevention is key!

So there it is ... examination schedules and what is needed ... or not needed. Most importantly, what is needed is communication with your veterinarian.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at any time. 718-474- PAWS. Watch for updates on Facebook (Veterinary House-Calls) and at www.BelleHarborHouseCalls.com for the opening of a brand new state of the art Animal Medical Centre right here in the Rockaways!

Take a stroll down Beach 116 ... you may notice something quite different! Maybe sneak a peak through the windows! Where when you call or visit, you will experience professional courtesy, friendly smiles, the best of medical care and compassion, immediate updates on your pet’s status; where no pet is ever left unattended or transported to another facility! Most importantly, where every staff member believes in my simple philosophy – “We treat every patient as if they were our own ... no exceptions!”

Stay Warm ... Spring is soon to be here!

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