How important is the exam really? Aren't vaccines important? Well, yes to both. I would argue that the exam can be more important and even critical for some pets.
Don't get me wrong, vaccines are very important, especially for young and unprotected pets. For those elderly and even middle aged pets, a semi-annual exam can be the difference between 6 months of life versus 2 more years of life. With the early detection of certain diseases, treatment can change the course of that pet's life dramatically. All because your family veterinarian detected a non-clinical, abnormal finding, either on the exam or with blood work.
Pets that do not see their veterinarian until the pet is due for vaccines could be missing the window of opportunity to treat, life threatening, but treatable diseases if caught early enough. Those pets that receive 3 year vaccines, for instance, could have aged upwards of 21 years (or more) depending on the size and breed of the pet. If your pet was a human, then they would go 21 years without an exam?
In the past, our profession might have leaned toward a philosophy of “come in for your annual vaccinations and we’ll give your pet an exam while you are here.” Now that philosophy is rightly being reversed to become, “come in for your pet wellness exam and if needed we’ll give the vaccines that are required.” This is a much better model for the health of pets.
One might argue that the annual wellness exam is too costly and why not just go to a limited service vaccine clinic in a parking lot?? When one considers the savings gained by early disease diagnosis and treatment there is no comparison. More importantly, early disease detection and treatment is proven to extend the lives of dogs, cats and humans! So get your pet to the vet at least once a year.
Written by Dr. Tiffany Mosley
Tiffany Mosley, DVM
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.lapoflove.com
Dr. Mosley services towns in and around Jacksonville with a focus on the
Mandarin & Orange Park areas as well as the beaches.