By Michael Norris, VMD
Providing your pet with wellness care is the best means to insure the health and well-being of your companion. A good wellness care program is designed to prevent and or allow for the early detection of disease. It must also be tailored to your pet’s individual needs and lifestyle. Considerations should include age, breed, sex, activity level and time spent outdoors.
The cornerstone of a wellness program is an annual physical exam. For several reasons, our pets are adept at concealing the early signs of illness. Instinct tells smaller animals that acting ill would make them more likely to be seen as prey by larger predators. Working animals may continue to want to please their owners in spite of illness. Your veterinarian is trained at picking up on the early signs of disease allowing diagnosis and early intervention in the disease process. The physical exam also gives your veterinarian the insight needed to discuss dietary recommendations and address behavioral issues. Puppies and senior pets will generally require more frequent visits.
Vaccinations allow us to prevent many contagious diseases. Given the large number of vaccinations available today, veterinarians tailor vaccine recommendations to an individual pet’s risk. Not all pets need all vaccines, however; proper vaccination is a key element in providing optimal wellness care for your pet.
There are several laboratory tests which help complete a wellness care program. Blood tests screen for disease such as heart worm, tick borne disease, feline leukemia virus and feline immune deficiency virus. Fecal exams screen for gastrointestinal parasites. Treatment of these conditions early on in the disease process will allow for a more
favorable outcome and help prevent transmission to other pets.
Finally, your veterinarian will prescribe parasite control. This will not only keep your pet free fromm parasites but will help prevent zoonotic disease, which are diseases passed from animals to humans. Your veterinarian is uniquely qualified to provide a wellness care program. Taking your pet to visit the veterinarian at least once a year will make him or her a healthy and happier pet.