Do you remember the old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” It’s not only true for humans, but for our pets also. Owning and caring for a pet is a commitment, a responsibility. In exchange, we are rewarded with our companion’s unconditional love.
As part of that responsibility, we have to be involved in our pet’s healthcare. Taking your pet to the veterinarian is an integral piece of that. Vaccinations can prevent a number of diseases in our dogs and cats. Some of these diseases can be fatal. It is much easier on and healthier for your pet to prevent these diseases versus treat them. Prevention is also much less costly for the pet owner. Some of these diseases are also zoonotic (meaning people can contract them also). Examples are rabies and leptospirosis. Heartworm disease can easily be prevented by a monthly tablet or a six-month injection. This is so much better for the pet and the owner versus treatment for this disease.
When you take your pet to the vet for vaccinations, he or she is not just receiving a “shot.” Your vet is performing a thorough physical examination from nose to tail. She is examining the eyes, ears, mouth, skin, nails, bones and joints with her eyes and her hands. She is palpating external lymph nodes and your pet’s abdomen. She is listening to their heart and lungs with a stethoscope. If detected early, many conditions and diseases can be treated or controlled successfully before more permanent damage can be done. After a history is taken and a physical exam is performed, your vet can answer any questions you have and recommend if any further testing is needed. Blood work can detect other health issues that a physical exam cannot. Your vet also has the ability to take x-rays, take blood pressures, eye pressures, do urinalyses and fecal (stool) checks for intestinal parasites and many other lab tests. Your vet is also the best source of information on nutrition, behavior, and heartworm, flea, and tick medications. Be prepared (with a list if necessary) to ask your vet questions at the visit. Don’t hesitate to call back with any questions that you think of after the visit. You and your veterinarian are in this journey of pet ownership together. We love your pet too and want you to enjoy many happy, healthy years together.
Dr. Karen Miller, DVM, is a veterinarian and owner of Lincolnton Animal Hospital.