The quote “Prevention is better than cure” still applies to our loyal companions: our pets—not only fellow humans. Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM; Lynn Buzhardt, DVM, of VCA, an operator of over 1,000 animal hospitals in the US and Canada, agreed that not letting your pet succumb to illness is better than treating it. The best way to prevent illness is to have your pet undergo a routine veterinary checkup.
Veterinary Care Utilization (2014)
Partners for Healthy Pets, a program created by the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) and over 20 leading veterinary associations and animal health companies, published a report titled “Reversing the Decline In Veterinary Care Utilization: Progress Made, Challenges Remain,” said Constance Hardesty of AAHA, a non-profit organization for companion animal veterinary hospitals.
The survey involved 1,117 practice team members (veterinarians, technicians, and office managers), 69 deans and faculty at schools of veterinary medicine, and 28 associate members of Partners for Healthy Pets.
Responses by veterinary practice team members to the question “During the past four years, at your practice (or at practice at which you have worked), have you observed any change in the effort to communicate to pet owners the value and benefit of preventive healthcare versus simply making a recommendation for preventive healthcare services?” indicated that 49% of managers believed that it increased slightly (versus 47% of vet techs and 48% of vets).
36% of managers said it increased substantially (versus 27% of vet techs and 21% of vets) and 14% answered “stayed about the same” (versus 24% and 29%). 2% of managers, vet techs, and vets answered “decreased slightly” while none of the managers and vet techs stated “decreased substantially.” Only 1% of vets said that an effort to communicate the value and benefit of preventive health care to owners decreased substantially.
As for responses by veterinary educators, 43% of faculty members said it increased slightly (versus 42% of deans) while 30% said it increased substantially (versus 30%). 25% answered “stayed about the same” (versus 17%) and 2% answered “decreased slightly." None of the deans answered “decreased slightly.” None of the veterinary educators said that an effort to communicate the value and benefit of preventive health care to owners decreased substantially.
With regard to the common reasons why pet owners don’t use professional veterinary care, 22% of those who answered “completely agree” or “somewhat agree” (versus 10% in the 2010 survey) said that routine veterinary checkups are unnecessary. 32% would only go to a vet if their pet is sick or injured (33%).
59% said the costs of routine visits are higher than expected (versus 53%). 32% of respondents would probably switch vets if they found one that was less expensive. 51% said their pet does not like going to the vet (45%) and 38% said that thinking about taking their pet to the vet is stressful (versus 30%). 48% said the internet is the first option when their pet is sick or injured (versus 39%).
When Should I See My Veterinarian?
Dogs mature differently than humans so they need to visit the doctor more often than we do. Puppies mature quickly during the first year of life and are considered as teens (15 years old) after 12 months. By the following year, they are already 25 years old. Then, your dog’s aging rate slows down, aging about four to five years each year. However, larger breeds age faster than their smaller counterparts. The bottomline is to see your dog’s vet often as dogs age faster than humans, making preventive health care more critical to your pet’s health.
What Are Preventive Healthcare Plans?
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the AAHA have developed canine preventive healthcare guidelines, which are an excellent source for maintaining your dog’s health, stated Dr. Mike Paul, DVM, of Pet Health Network, the leading vet authority in anything related to pet health. Following these guidelines will entail commitment and an investment.
A preventative health plan involves regular scheduled exams of your healthy dog to help maintain its health. Other than examinations, preventive care could also include vaccinations, blood screenings, dental cleaning packages, and internal parasite screenings.
By making regular payments and following the healthcare plan, you can be assured that your dog will receive the best preventive care possible without burning a huge hole in your pocket. The services offered in preventive care plans vary. Hence, it is important to know which services are covered in the plan in terms of disease prevention and early diagnostics. Healthcare plans are not pet insurance plans. However, if combined with insurance programs, your pet canine can be covered for both unexpected and anticipated treatment costs.
What Are Some of These Guidelines?
Discussing your dog’s home life will give your veterinarian an overall idea of its health. It’s possible for your dog’s demeanor to change gradually so you may not be aware of them until your vet asks specific questions. Your answers will enable your veterinarian to create a diagnostic path that will make your pet feel better.
Healthy dogs should be examined at least once or twice a year. Frequent visits may be necessary if you have an older dog or if it has medical issues. For example, physical exams can find heart murmurs or skipped heartbeats, including abdominal tumors. Exams can also detect enlarged or shrunken liver, kidneys, or spleen that may entail systemic disease.
Thorough physical examinations are needed in order for your vet to make an accurate diagnosis. Blood and urine tests are taken to paint a complete picture of your dog’s health. These procedures aid in diagnosing health complications earlier, making treatment cheaper and your dog healthier.
4. Dental Care
Your dog’s teeth may need to be cleaned every one to two years, but this can vary depending on certain factors, including preventive care. Dental radiographs or x-rays can assess the status of oral disease and regular dental cleanings will help maintain your canine’s teeth in tiptop condition.
5. Spaying or Neutering
This is to prevent infections and certain types of cancer. Your veterinarian will state the benefits of spaying or neutering as well as the “timing of the surgery.”
Pet health should not be taken for granted by owners. Preventive healthcare plans help minimize costs, diagnose health maladies earlier, and ensure your dog’s overall health. Adhering to a healthcare plan might be stressful at first, but it is definitely worth the effort and investment.