The goal of any veterinarian is to uphold animal health and welfare and to prevent and relieve animal suffering; as stated in the oath we take upon entering the field.
Vet visits are clearly important for sick pets to get back on the road to health. But as we’ll discover, it’s also important to bring healthy pets to the vet. Below we explore 5 reasons why healthy pets should go to the vet; some points you’re probably already familiar with but others may be less obvious.
1. An Ounce of Prevention.
No doubt, if you’ve had a dog or cat for any length of time you are familiar with recommendations for core vaccines and parasite control measures. There are many diseases that are easily prevented by ensuring your pet is up to date on their vaccines. Some of these diseases, such as Rabies and Leptospirosis, can pose serious health concerns for you as well as your pet. Parasite prevention is also important for keeping pets healthy and we aren’t just talking about fleas. Intestinal parasites, heartworms, and ticks can also pose serious threats to your pet’s health making year-round prevention a feature of any wellness plan. Many of the conditions easily prevented by vaccines and parasiticides can have a lifelong impact on your pet’s health and some are life ending. As the saying goes: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
2. Screen Time
No, we aren’t suggesting that your pet visit the vet’s office to binge watch a favorite show. Vet visits are an important time for health screening. Catching diseases early can have a huge positive impact on available treatments and on the ultimate outcome. Bringing your pet to the vet for a routine physical exam is a major part of this effort. Additionally, having your pet’s weight checked routinely will screen for loss or gain that may go undetected otherwise. Your trusted family veterinarian is trained to take note of changes that may seem insignificant but are worth further attention.
3.What is ‘Normal’ Anyway?
When assessing your pet’s vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate your veterinarian will consider a range for what is normal. Reference ranges are well established but can represent a wide window of acceptable values. Bringing your pet in for checking vital signs and screening blood panels allows your vet to establish a baseline that is specific to your pet. This adds in sensitivity that may not otherwise be there. As an example, if your pet’s blood pressure is creeping up but still within the “normal” reference range, a one time spot check will not yield as much useful information as periodic readings which can show changes over time. Bringing your pet to the veterinarian while they are healthy helps determine what is normal in your pet; afterall, what is normal for some may be abnormal for others.
4. Conditional Love
Vets love animals, but the love isn’t always mutual. For pets who are uncomfortable at the vet's office or for young pets who haven’t yet formed an opinion, desensitization and conditioning are wonderful tools for helping them be confident during vet visits. Conditioning is useful for pets who are not yet fearful, giving them the opportunity to have purely positive experiences at the vet will help them associate veterinary visits with pleasurable things like treats and snuggles from staff. Desensitization is a long but powerful process by which a fearful pet is exposed to triggers in small but increasing doses, ensuring they remain calm at each step. This may mean driving to the vet and getting treats in the car before heading home, then next time entering the building and getting some treats from the receptionist before leaving. Speak with your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist to develop and plan tailored to your pet.
In case of emergency, it is beneficial to have an established relationship with a veterinary clinic or hospital. It may seem unimportant now, but simply knowing where the nearest clinic is, having the phone number saved in your contacts, and having a file started with all your pet’s information can save time and energy in an urgent situation. In a true emergency, your general practice veterinary staff can point you toward the best option for emergency care if they are not able to provide it.
The goal of any veterinarian is to uphold animal health and welfare and to prevent and relieve animal suffering; as stated in the oath we take upon entering the field. By partnering with a trusted veterinarian in your area, you can ensure your pet receives the preventative care they need and that your veterinarian has the information and relationship with your pet needed to best carry out their solemn oath.
Here are our frequently asked questions to help you feel fully informed and at ease.