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October is Preventive Health Care Month!
As the saying goes “an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Now more than ever this is true of veterinary medicine. With greater understanding of disease, your veterinarian is able to either prevent a disease in the first place or detect the early signs when treatments are more successful.
The annual exam is a foundation of preventive medicine, being not only an opportunity to detect illness early, but also to discuss may issues, leading to a reduction in the risk of illness later in your pet’s life. Typically vaccination and anti-parasitics have also been a big part of the annual examination.
Vaccines have a long history of being one of the most successful and reliable methods of preventing major diseases in a population of pets. Parvovirus, feline leukemia and rabies are examples of viruses that are commonly prevented by vaccination. The diseases themselves are now rare. The success of these and other vaccinations have been tremendous, to the point where potential side-effects become more evident and discussed in the media. But in the majority of cases the disease the vaccine prevents is worse than the majority of potential side effects. The appropriate vaccines are chosen based on a discussion between you and your veterinarian based on your pet’s needs.
Intestinal and other parasitic worms are becoming less and less common, due in part to decades of effective treatment and prevention. But since they are still present in the environment, it remains important to prevent their ability to establish themselves in our pet. Likewise other parasites such as fleas and ticks remain common. There are many products available and like vaccines, the products chosen are tailors to your pet’s needs.
Another important part of preventive medicine is blood testing. Though traditionally blood testing is thought of as a test used before anesthetics or when there are obvious signs of disease, more and more owners are electing to test their pets routinely, while they are still well. There are two broad purposes of wellness testing. The first is to help determine what is normal for your pet since not every pet has the same normal results as another. Secondly, it helps catch some diseases before there are clinical signs, greatly improving the outcomes in many cases.
Do not forget that diet can also be a significant factor in disease prevention. Whether it is a dental diet that keeps a healthy mouth, or a weight control diet that helps in keeping the pressure of the joints, there is a wide range of diets that can help your particular pet.
Prevention starts with knowledge, and the best place for knowledge starts with your pet’s routine visit to your veterinarian and veterinary technician. Please bring your questions!