Regular Check-ups for Pets

Kapi-Mana News Pet Health Column Article for 7 August 2012

Written by Dr Ian Schraa, 07/08/2012

How regular should a pet be checked by a veterinarian? Some pet owners think never and simply wait until their pet gets sick to go to the vet. They possibly think the same way about their car, or their own health. But we all know that prevention is better than cure and that early diagnosis of disease also means a more likely better outcome.

The Ministry of Health, medical and dental professionals spend millions of dollars every year trying to educate people that check-ups and prevention is the best way to help you and your family live a longer, healthier and therefore happier life. Whether it is Plunket visits to babies, vaccination of children against diseases, flu vaccinations, breast screening, prostrate gland check-ups, mole checks or dental check-ups they are all about prevention and picking up problems early.

The same principles apply to caring for your pets. However there are two even more important reasons for a vet to carry out a regular check-up on your pet.

The first is that pets cannot speak and tell you exactly how they feel. It is so sad to see a pet who has, to us as veterinarians, obviously been secretly suffering for a long time because they could not tell their owner, like human would be able to.

The second reason is that cats and dogs age about 5 times faster than humans, so that an annual check-up is the same you going to a doctor only once every five years.

The crazy thing is that the most common reason not to do it is cost. But it is probably the best money you can spend on your pet’s health (next to quality food). I am not saying that regular check-ups prevents all disease but it is a simple fact that like people who have regular health check-ups pets will on average be healthier and live longer. One of the reasons women live longer than men is they see the doctor more than men do.

Pets can’t look after themselves. You need to do it for them. We see puppies and kittens, just like kids with Plunket, more regularly because they have developing bodies and immune systems. We see older pets more regularly because of the higher likelihood of age-related diseases. However for the majority of their life a check-up once a year for your pet is all that is required. If it has been a while make the appointment now.

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