The Importance of Annual and Semi-Annual Exams

The annual veterinary exam is the cornerstone of our preventative health care program for your dog or cat. Exams help prevent disease or treat existing disease that may have gone unnoticed. It is a time to address any questions you may have concerning your pet’s health.

The annual exam accomplishes many goals. First, the medical history is reviewed and any existing concerns addressed. The physical examination of the pet provides a good idea of general health and any dental concerns. If any actions need to be taken, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. In older pets we recommend laboratory testing to see if underlying disease is present that may not be detected by the patient history and exam. In cats this is particularly rewarding because kidney and thyroid disease are common and if diagnosed early there is a real opportunity to help the patient.

We also review the patient’s internal and external parasite status, update vaccines, and discuss behavioral and dietary concerns. Getting an accurate recorded weight of your pet that can be followed over time is very helpful. A 15 year study by Purina demonstrated that maintaining an ideal body weight in Labrador Retrievers could add an average of two years to their lives and reduce arthritis by 75%.

While at KSU veterinary school, Dr. Linda DeBowes, a local board certified veterinary internist and dentist, preformed a study which demonstrated that periodontal disease (gum disease) in dogs contributes to heart, liver, and kidney disease. This is the primary reason, along with issues of discomfort, that we are so concerned about dental disease in pets. An oral exam in an important component of the annual exam.

Many progressive veterinarians now recommend twice yearly exams. We feel this is especially important in pets 10 years of age or older or in pets with a diagnosed chronic disease that is being managed.