Most of you will probably agree that it is much easier to prevent problems than fix them. This holds true at work, home, and in medicine. In order to prevent disease we need to provide good nutrition; keep our cats and dogs on heartworm prevention; do some sort of daily dental care; do twice-yearly examinations and conduct yearly testing of the major organ systems. The first part of that list is pretty obvious and self-explanatory. The second part may require a little explaining.
While not exact, each year of your pet's life is like 7 of ours. So while in our time frame twice a year exams may seem excessive, keep in mind it is more like an exam every 3-4 years. That is a long time - especially when the "person" we are discussing cannot tell us that they do not feel good or that something hurts. True, in the young animal, the examination will most likely be normal. However, we often pick up ear infections or certain other issues in these "healthy" pets during this "extra" exam. We are all in the habit of yearly vaccinations. In some cases, these are definitely needed. However, not every pet needs every vaccine available every year. At the "annual exam," we can look at your pet's lifestyle and friends to determine which vaccines are needed. Perhaps "annual wellness consultation" would be a better name. Then 1 1/2 to 2 (dog/cat) years later we do another exam to make sure everything is still okay.
YEARLY ORGAN TESTING
Oftentimes the best time to begin treating diseases is BEFORE we see clinical signs. Since we want to catch diseases before our pets are sick, the only way to know what is going on is to test for them. Blood tests and urine tests can tell us when organs are beginning to have problems. Most people think that this testing does not need to start until their pet is 8 or 9 years old. At Austin Vet Care, we would like to see blood work every year to monitor for trends. For example, let's say we test thyroid levels on a dog for the first time at age 12 and the level is just barely above the low end of normal. Is that normal for that dog or has the value been dropping for several years and this level is actually low for this dog? Without previous values, we have no idea. By doing lab tests every year (or about every 7 "pet years") we can watch for those trends and do some easy things like diet changes or supplements to either reverse the disease or at least slow it down. Unfortunately, what happens a lot instead is the pet comes in with advanced kidney failure and there is not much we can do at that point. It is much easier to prevent or slow down disease than it is to treat it. The only way to know is to look for it with twice-yearly exams and yearly testing.
Austin Vet Care at Metric
12419 Metric Blvd Austin, TX 78758
Sat: 8am-12pm, Sun: Closed