Why your pet’s annual health check is so important!

stethoscopeI’ve often heard the alarming phrase: “My pet doesn’t need a check-up, he’s always been healthy”. Didn’t you know that an annual veterinary exam is the key to a long-lived, healthy pet?

The annual exam is much more than just a cursory check-up. It is most often during these exams that your vet can pick up the early warning signs of serious problems that will affect your dog in the future. Serious problems can often be corrected or at least slowed when they are detected early. After all, prevention is better than a cure!

Regular visits to your vet especially where nothing “negative” happens, helps your dog feels comfortable with your vet. If your dog only visits the vet when he is sick then he probably won’t enjoy the experience. This is the perfect opportunity to make sure your dog or cat’s vaccinations are up-to-date and your vet will also have a good look at your pet’s teeth to determine whether or not dental cleaning is required.

If your pet is getting older, you can talk about any special needs with your vet. Just like people, senior pets may suffer from various organ system problems, osteoarthritis, loss of vision or hearing, and even memory loss or dementia. Luckily, many problems can be successfully controlled with medication or simple changes to their lifestyle.

Recently a case at our clinic really emphasised how important these regular check ups are. Lara, a German Shepherd was booked in for her annual vaccination and Heartworm injection. On exam it was noted that Lara was quite pale. After quizzing her owner, they did think that she had had a quiet period about a week ago, but since seemed to be OK. Just to be sure we ran a red blood cell count which showed quite significant anaemia. Additional blood test revealed that overall Lara was quite healthy however ultrasound and x-rays showed some liver changes. Somewhere in her system Lara was losing blood. Her owners provided the okay for  an internal examination of all of her organs, to see if we could find the cause of the blood loss. It was found that her liver was large and the spleen looked slightly abnormal and had a pimple like lump present on it. A liver biopsy was taken, the spleen was removed and both were sent in to the lab for analysis. Lara had been extremely lucky, the pathologist could see from those samples that Lara had been losing blood from the spleen over a long period of time. This had in turn affected the liver and caused those changes. Luckily no sign of cancer was found, removing the spleen resolved the problem and that in turn will reverse the changes to the liver. Had she not come in for her annual check up and this been picked up, the potential for a massive haemorrhage was enormous and would most likely would have resulted in her death.

When was the last time your pet had a general veterinary health check?