Written by: Dr. Alicia Simoneau, CVO, Humane Pennsylvania
Why it is best to have your pet seen regularly and not just for sick visits:
- Assess dental health: The majority of cats and dogs over the age of 5 have significant dental disease. You might get a whiff of some bad breath and think it’s just the food you feed your pet. However, your vet will inspect your pet’s mouth and can explain to you at the visit the signs of dental disease and how to slow it down. These recommendations can range from starting an at home dental health program, teeth cleaning and assessment under general anesthesia (dental prophylaxis) to oral surgery and tooth extraction.
- Monitor weight: Living with an animal every day we may not realize they are getting beyond their ideal body condition. The majority of pet’s can use some friendly nutrition and exercise advice to keep them in tip top shape. We know that lean animals live years longer than obese animals.
- Monitor lumps and bumps: Some masses are nothing to worry about, others are quite dangerous. Your vet will feel, chart (measure and document location) and make recommendations about a mass. Knowing where the masses are and monitoring their progress can help your vet and you make an informed decision on the most appropriate course of action. Sometimes monitoring is advised, other times a needle sample with analysis is best or removal and biopsy.
- Monitor cardiac health: When your vet listens to your pet’s chest they are listening for the rate, rhythm and character of the heartbeat and lung sounds. Heart murmurs are the sounds of blood swirling in the heart instead of flowing through the heart valves smoothly. There are age related heart diseases common in many dog breeds that are typically first discovered at a wellness visit. Your vet will give recommendations based on the intensity of the heart murmur, if intervention needs to happen, and what types of diagnostics would be beneficial. Knowing this information can extend your pet’s life when interventions are needed. Dental disease and weight also play a role in optimal cardiac health.
- Discuss behavior concerns: Wellness visits are a great opportunity to ask your vet about any quirky or concerning behaviors you are noticing in your pet. Behavior concerns can start out small and escalate to the point of being a reason people choose to rehome their pet. Seeking advice early can lead to increased satisfaction in your relationship with your pet.