By Dr. Jack Stephens, DVM
Pets Best Insurance President
Pets are dependent on their human counterparts and need routine and wellness care to ensure optimum pet health.
Unlike humans, pets cannot talk or communicate when they have an ache, pain or illness. Instead, they might let out the occasional whimper or simply remain quiet, which is why regular exams are so important.
A thorough pet health wellness exam should be all-encompassing and include equal part examination, vaccination, preventative measures, and testing. The exact health protocol for your pet will vary depending on the pet’s breed, age and current health.
During a physical exam, your veterinarian and their technicians will check for a host of things, such as irregularities in the heart, lungs, eyes, ears and throat. They will also check for lumps and bumps, feel the abdomen for abnormalities, take your pet’s temperature, evaluate your pet’s weight and inspect their mouth for tartar and oral growths.
Lymph nodes and joints will also be examined, and finally, mucus membranes will be checked for abnormalities which can indicate internal organ disease or anemia.
Part of the pet health exam should also include the pet’s health history. Let your veterinarian know if there have been any changes in behavior, appetite, or if the animal has been vomiting. If your pet has insatiable thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, lethargy or depression you should take him or her to the doctor as soon as possible.
Another important part of pet health is vaccination. Vaccines are administered to prevent contagious diseases, which can cause epidemics like distemper, rabies and parvovirus. Young pets that have undeveloped immune systems often require a series of vaccines which are spaced-out several weeks apart to provide temporary protection until their immune system matures.
Some vaccines require at least two inoculations to develop a lasting immunity, while others, such as rabies, provide immunity for several years. Your veterinarian will discuss which vaccines are the best options for your pet. In some circumstances, like when boarding a pet, additional vaccines may be necessary due to the likelihood of disease exposure.
Any good pet health care program should also provide screening tests which helps to identify medical conditions that are present whether or not symptoms have manifested.
An early diagnosis or abnormal finding may result in disease prevention or at least expedited treatment. Some tests, such as blood work and fecal tests, are recommended routinely.
Diagnostic tests after your pet has become ill can be quite expensive without pet insurance and many times could have been avoided by performing a less-costly routine test.
Regular wellness exams, vaccines and certain tests, depending on the age and health of your pet, can go a long way in keeping your beloved friend in the best possible pet health.
*Pets Best Insurance offers an optional Wellness and Routine care plan that can be added on to any of our three accident, illness and injury policies. For more information on pet care insurance, visit www.petsbest.com.