Recently, I read an article on a proactive approach to human healthcare. With all that’s going on with America’s healthcare system, a “new” perspective that focuses on preventative medicine just makes sense, right? Instead of taking the reactive approach to your health – for example going to the doctor when you are sick and expecting an easy, quick cure – we are all encouraged go annually for a yearly wellness visit and address any health concerns with our doctors before they become pressing issues.
As a mother of small children, the wellness visits for my kids seem to be never-ending. I am amazed at how frequently I go to the pediatrician. At times, I feel like we live there! But when my daughter has been ill, I am relieved that we have taken her to the same doctor who has gotten to know her during her well visits. It’s not that the pediatrician has her vaccination record or weight chart on file, but that she knows her well. She is able to recognize any abnormalities more effectively because she knows what my daughter’s “normal” is.
From personal experience, I am a strong believer that this is the best approach for our fur-children as well. For example, I have an older dog, “Clive,” come into the office with the several serious medical complaints. This pet was last seen by me as a youngster when he was neutered 6 years ago. I have no idea what Clive’s life is like at home or what his “normal” is. How has his weight or body condition changed? Is he up to date on vaccinations or a parasite prevention program? I have no patient/client relationship from which to draw any conclusions. The owner states Clive has always been healthy, until this last month, when his appetite decreased and he’s become more lethargic. Where do I start to help this patient and client? I have to catch up on years of information about this pet, do a complete, thorough physical exam and discern which of today’s problems are significant and related to the chief complaint. This is a difficult accomplishment to perform in 30 minutes! If I had been seeing Clive once or twice yearly, I would have had so much more information about what his normal was, as well as a good foundation of communication with the owner to initiate decision-making.
Situations like Clive’s are inevitable at times, but they don’t have to be the norm. Taking a preventative approach to his health care is preferable for both veterinarians and clients. Therefore, we need to stress the importance of each animal’s annual physical exam and getting to know each and every pet as the individuals they are.
Therein lies the idea behind our new program “Vaccines for Life.” What the program offers is simple: Your pet must come in for an annual preventative health care examination. If he or she is examined by one of our doctors every year, that pet will receive the core vaccines at no charge for the rest of its life. These core vaccines are DAPP and Rabies for dogs and FVRCP and Rabies for cats (please see our website www.vmceaston.com for more details on these vaccines). In this way we are placing our focus on the most important part of an animal’s yearly visit – the physical examination. Each thorough physical exam will include looking in eyes, ears, oral cavity, abdominal palpation, assessing skin/haircoat, a brief neurologic and orthopedic evaluation, lymph node palpation and any additional aspects that may need to be addressed based on each pet’s condition. Because pets age so much faster than people, yearly examinations are vital to early detection and treatment of disease conditions – and often times earlier detection means a better treatment outcome.
My goal with this article is “Help me to Help you!” I want to put the emphasis on preventative, proactive medicine so that our pets can live long and happy lives with their families. I want owners to get excited about being part of their cat or dog’s health care- Do your homework, come with questions, make sure all issues are addressed, take notes and call later about anything that did not make sense – get the most out of your annual visit to the veterinary office! As a pet-loving community, we want our furry family members to thrive and stay with us as long as possible. At VMC, we are committed to that statement and it is our hope that our new “Vaccines for Life” program will help us provide clients an easy solution to making preventative medicine part of each veterinary visit. Please visit our website or ask any of our staff members for more information.