Tip of the Month

3/11/2013 Annual Pet Exam

The Annual Exam For Your Pet

Veterinarian Checking A Dog During Annual Checkup

How often do you take your pets to the veterinarian? Every owner should have their pet examined at least once a year. If your pet is older, you should take him in for a check up every 6 months.

Why do older pets need to be seen more often?

As with humans, pets can develop health problems as they age. The rate of aging in a typical family pet is much higher than that for a human. For all dogs, the first year of life (in human terms) equals 15 dog yearsóthatís a lot higher than to the once standard 7 to 1 ratio. At 5 years, the average canine is about 36 years old. Once an animal reaches 6 years of age, the size of the animal comes into play. A large breed dog (weighing in around 50-plus pounds) will begin accumulating more dog years than that of a small breed dog (weighing in around 20 pounds or less).

For example, a large breed dog at age 10 will be the equivalent of a 66-year-old man; whereas a small breed dog will be the equivalent of a 56-year-old human. As one can see, that is about a 10 year age difference.

Blood & Urine Tests

Once critical part of an annual exam is blood and urine tests. A young healthy pet may only need a basic blood panel to check for parasites and organ functions. In contrast, older pets may need additional testing to determine how well their liver, kidneys and basic body chemistry are functioning. These tests can also reveal issues with a petís thyroid and lymph nodes.

For older pets, the veterinarian may order imaging diagnostics, such as radiographs. These are exceedingly important as they will help show if arthritis is beginning to form within the joints. Early detection can greatly help with your petís longevity as well as his quality of life.

Preventive Treatment

The annual examination is also a good way for pet owners to learn about any parasites that can be found in their area, as well as the various preventative treatments that can be done to prevent infestation.

A petís annual exam is just as important for him as it is for you. The length and quality of your petís life can be enhanced through the knowledge gained during an exam. Have you taken your pet for his annual exam yet?

By Jennifer Woodward, RVT

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