By Lauren Hessey, DVM
In these trying economic times, it is not uncommon for people to justify not seeking veterinary care for their animals because they look healthy. While your animal may look healthy to you, there are many things that may not be outwardly obvious that your veterinarian can detect with a thorough physical exam, annual blood work, and checking a fecal sample.
People may also think, “My animal doesn’t go outdoors a lot or around other animals, so there is no need to keep it current on vaccines.” This is a very common misconception, especially for people that own indoor cats. While a cat that lives primarily indoors is at a decreased risk of contracting certain diseases, some of the viruses can be hardy and survive in an environment for months to years. Also, if your cat is like mine and dying to get outdoors, if not properly vaccinated, all it takes is one encounter of the wrong kind. The reason these vaccines are given is to prevent diseases that if contracted could be fatal to your pet. These diseases are not a prevalent as they were in the past due to the diligence of routine vaccination. Some vaccines, such as Leptospirosis and Rabies are given to prevent diseases that can be transmitted to people. For this reason, rabies vaccination is required by law, whether your pet lives indoors or out. If your pet’s rabies vaccine is not up to date or has never been done and it bites someone, it could undergo a lengthy quarantine or potentially be euthanized.
Routine blood work performed at an annual exam can detect early onset of certain diseases. Generally, if an organ is showing signs of compromise, the sooner it is detected and treatment initiated, the better the outcome. If the blood work comes back normal, then great! Your veterinarian will then have a good baseline of what normal is in your pet. Therefore, if they ever become sick, then a better assessment of abnormal values can be made. Blood work is especially important in our senior pets and may need to be performed bi annually. Cats and dogs age at a much faster rate than people. Can you imagine if you only saw your doctor every 3-7 years??
A fecal flotation will detect whether your animal is harboring intestinal parasites. Some of these parasites can be transmitted to people. Children and elderly or immune compromised people tend to be at higher risk for diseases that are transmitted from animals to people.
I recently read a comment to a veterinary article that made my blood boil a little. It stated that the canine influenza vaccine was developed in order for veterinarians and vaccine companies to make money. It is a personal goal of mine to advise my clients of the best medicine and recommend devices that I would provide my own pets. If you are struggling to make ends meet, have a conversation with you veterinarian. We are understanding, compassionate people. We will do our best to work with you. You may be able to split your visits or services up so you can spread out the cost.