How important are your pet's annual exams?

Who doesn't admit that at one point or another, you skip your pet's annual vet visits?  Sure, you know it's good for them, "but hey, they're healthy, thriving, and I really could save that cash this year!  Of course I'd take them in a heart beat if they were actually sick!"  Sound familiar?  

The truth is, your pet's annual veterinary exam is similar to your own annual physical exam.  It is the act of taking responsibility for your own health, so that you maintain a healthy life, or you are prepared in the event that your doctor discovers any medical issues that went unnoticed.  Going to the vet has that same preventive measure for your pet.  Annual visits help you stay on top of your pets health with costs that are usually manageable, while providing you with time to plan ahead should your vet discover anything new.  However, those pet owners that skip annual vet visits are often overwhelmed when it is discovered that their pet is not only suffering, but that they have a full blown illness that requires treatment.  Since a diagnosis like this is sudden in these situations, many pet owners may find themselves unprepared, and unable to cover the costs of their pet's required treatment. As a sad result, it is not unusual that many of these same pets end up at local animal shelters.  And, the relinquishment of sick animals in the shelter system not only adds to overcrowded shelters that already have limited medical resources, but these type of animals are more likely to be euthanized.  

Santa Monica, California veterinarian Dr. Karen Heard, of Vet 2 U LA, offers great advice that will help you to keep your pets healthy, while doing your part to reduce overcrowded shelters:

"It makes a lot of sense to schedule a yearly veterinary exam for each one of your pets. Some medical problems can occur gradually. Ear, skin and dental problems often fall into this category. These are often missed by pet owners but can cause chronic pain or discomfort. Other medical problems are more easily treated if they are found earlier. Liver, kidney and weight management problems are examples of this.
When animals grow very elderly, generally 10 for dogs and 12 for cats, they need to be seen even more frequently. At least twice yearly would be best. Conditions are developing for them more rapidly and they don't have the resources to adapt to them that younger animals have.  Your veterinarian is best equipped to determine how often your individual pet should be seen."
 Karen Heard, DVM - Owner and Director of Vet 2 U LA mobile veterinary service in Santa Monica, CA, has volunteered her services at local animal shelters.  Here she exams "Patia," a shelter cat before her adoption.

Karen Heard, DVM - Owner and Director of Vet 2 U LA mobile veterinary service in Santa Monica, CA, has volunteered her services at local animal shelters.  Here she exams "Patia," a shelter cat before her adoption.

Doesn't that skipped annual exam seem a whole lot cheaper now?!  It is, and in more ways than one.  Don't let your pets pay the ultimate price with their lives: schedule AND keep your pets annual vet exams!  

For more information on Dr. Karen Heard, need veterinary advice , or to schedule your pets next vet exam with her mobile practice, visit: Vet 2 U LA