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The Importance of Annual Veterinary Examinations

December 30, 2012 by Maria-Elena Cloherty, DVM

Due to the advancement in our knowledge of the duration of activity of vaccines, we are now extending the dosing intervals for many vaccines to a 2-3 year timeframe. The problem we now face as clinicians, due to the increased time between vaccines, is that pet owners often neglect their pet’s routine annual physical exam. It seems that unless an illness or injury arises in the years between vaccinations, some patients are not being seen for 2-3 years. During this time, disease insidiously began to take hold of our patients, and unbeknownst to the pet owner, and can start to take their toll on their pet’s well-being.

Annual physical exams are an important time for dialoguing between pet owners and their veterinarian. Where I currently work, we set aside 30 minute appointments to perform examinations, to discuss physical exam and laboratory findings, as well as to address an owner’s concerns. In doing so, we can make prudent and individualized adjustments to a pet’s medical and/or surgical program.

Most often it is through thoughtful discussion about a pet owner’s observations about their pet, which allows a veterinarian to decide upon the need for a diagnostic work-up, dietary change, or an alteration in an existing medical protocol. Without this vital yearly interaction, significant veterinary health concerns may go undetected, and may only be later discovered when means to treat are no longer possible.

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