It’s that time of year again when you get that little card in the mail reminding you that your pet’s yearly exam is due! Oftentimes 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 pet’s lives are shorter than ours. They age quicker than we do and hence, disease processes tend to occur more quickly with them. It is important to remember that. Why? Because we want our furry companions with us for as long as we can have them in our lives.
There are many things that can affect our pet’s 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 to 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 pet’s 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 pet’s lives and 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 their best of health!
Now, what’s needed? Many of our elderly pet population has 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 and 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 noncore 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 or boards, then a bordatella or kennal cough vaccine and the Canine Influenza vaccines is 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.
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, concerns or suggestions, please feel free to contact me about your pet’s condition. 718-474-PAWS. Looking forward to any suggestions for future columns! Stay Warm!