As Ben Franklin noted, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Without a doubt, the best health care for your pet is preventive health care.
The most important part of preventive health care for pets is the wellness examination. Wellness exams, performed annually, are by far the most effective means of maintaining your pet’s health. Identifying and treating medical problems early is much less stressful to your pet and less expensive for you.
Vaccinations are also an important part of preventive health care. Timely and appropriate vaccination of a pet can prevent suffering, anxiety and expense later on. One of the biggest changes in veterinary medicine in recent years has been the advent of multi-year vaccinations. Until recently, pet owners generally made yearly appointments at an animal clinic for their pets to receive vaccinations and also get a wellness exam. Research performed by veterinary organizations as well as the pharmaceutical industry has shown that the immunity of many vaccinations lasts much longer than a year. In some cases, like Rabies, it can last up to three years, although other vaccinations, such as Bordetella, are required annually.
Today, clients are encouraged to continue bringing their pets to the clinic once a year – twice a year for older animals – not just for vaccinations, but more importantly for a wellness exam. During the wellness exam, your pets will then be given the appropriate vaccinations needed, based on an individual risk assessment made by your veterinarian and you.
We are very much encouraged by these developments because now vaccinations can be tailored much more closely to the specific needs of each animal. Under the old routine, almost all vaccinations were given annually regardless of the doctor’s assessment of the animal’s health or its risk of exposure to a particular disease.
While the new routine, which involves less frequent vaccinations, is much better for pets, it is still highly important that pet owners continue to bring their animals into the clinic for a wellness examination at least once a year (twice a year for older pets). While it may be tempting to skip wellness examination in any given year because a vaccination will not be needed, this is not in the best interests of your pet. Given the life expectancy of a dog, for instance, giving a dog a wellness exam only every other year is like a human having a medical checkup only every fourteen years!