Getting a pet is a big deal (and an exciting moment!) even if it is not exactly your first rodeo. It seems like the only peaceful moment offering visceral clarity is the second you decide, “This is the one right here!” Then you proceed to bundle up the new booshka for the trip home from the shelter or the pet’s place of origin and say a million names out loud until reaching the perfect one: Pickles Foxtrot Monkey Face.
What happens next is typically a bewildering cascade of opinions ranging from which brand of pet food to buy to what pet fashions are in season, to the inevitable discussion on which vet to use and why. While the term “preventative veterinary care” may not be new to you it is important to understand exactly what that means for you and for Monkey Face!
Preventative veterinary care puts vital markers in place to identify threats to health early on. Also to monitor your pet’s progress as he or she grows and ensure that they are living as comfortably as possible. A pet is a living, breathing being with specific health care needs that are not always obvious to owners. While Grandma may “harrumph” that it is a waste of money because her mutt has lived 1,000 years on lard-laden table and dumpster scraps… and has never needed flea or tick prevention (even though Scabs smells yeasty and always seems to be scratching…and nevermind that extreme halitosis!) that is sadly not the reality for most pet owners.
It is devastating to work in the veterinary industry sometimes, seeing pets suffering from entirely preventable diseases or common discomforts like undiagnosed food or environmental allergies. Preventative care for pets comes in many shapes and sizes and budgets, offering up the following important services.
Annual Blood Work
Annual blood work to assess internal organ function and potentially catch disease formation early on! It can also help a doctor decide that a different diet is needed for health reasons. This alone translates to a longer life for your furry little family member.
Intestinal parasites can often go undetected! Regular fecal and deworming is part of preventative care.
Ear infections. It is absolutely unreal how many ear infections I see daily as a vet tech. Many owners are simply unaware that they need to perform maintenance ear cleaning for their animal. Also, some breeds have underlying allergies that can lead to secondary chronic ear infections. Either way, simple things like this are managed beautifully under the care of your regular veterinarian with your preventative care plan tailored specifically to your pet’s needs.
Flea, Tick and Heartworm Prevention
In depth flea, tick and heartworm prevention product discussions with your doctor are important. The internet is arguably fueled by poor and often dangerous information, and each animal and breed offer specific challenges! That means there is no magic solution for these preventative medications and only a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (Can I get a DVM?!) should be prescribing one for your pet!
FYI: Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes and deadly…it is exactly what it sounds like: adult worms living in the heart as a host until they kill the host! Good news: heartworm disease is also 100% preventable!
Fleas and ticks transmit uncomfortable diseases to pets and cause irritating skin problems like flea allergy dermatitis, not something you want your family friend to endure! Some products that work wonders for one dog may be harmful to another, do not let the internet decide! Your veterinarian will provide facts and information for your pet, and even provide cheaper places to find products, because contrary to popular belief they are not in this to sell products. They have a degree in medicine to save lives, not a position in sales traipsing door to door in desperation. (This is also the reason why you pay for an exam…you are paying for their time, which they certainly deserve after spending about $500k on a degree…but that is another fiery topic for another day friends!).
An actual relationship with your veterinarian, who ACTUALLY knows your pet and your pet’s specific history. If you need more information on why this matters, you may need a hug and they can provide that as well with a side of warm fuzzies.
Last but certainly not least: vaccinations. A proper preventative care package will provide information on core and recommended vaccinations for your pet based on age, region and health status. Remember, some diseases are zoonotic, which means they are transmittable to humans!
The breakdown of the tail is:
Preventative veterinary care is something important to have along with standard pet insurance, they go hand-in-paw! For more information, feel free to reach out to Maria Botinas, DVM below! She just happens to be the most wonderful and talented veterinarian in the world, and I truly miss working with her (I am a Coast Guard spouse and orders took us to a new state, where I continue to work for the same company). Love you, B!
Kristy Brock, VT