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We all understand the importance of having routine check-ups for our children and families, but what about our pets? Pets age faster than we do, which makes regular visits to the veterinarian even more important. Pets can have health issues and these routine appointments can help prevent or make an early diagnosis of problems.
October was National Pet Wellness Month and reminded pet owners of the importance of regular vet visits. National Pet Wellness Month is sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association and Zoetis (formally Pfizer Animal Health) and recommends taking your pets to the vet for routine check-ups and preventive care “twice a year for life.”
The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) recognizes the importance of this routine veterinary care. The community practice division is a full service wellness care clinic designed to provide preventive care and basic sick appointments for pets of the general public.
“It is important to take your pet to the veterinarian at least once a year. A yearly physical exam may help catch health problems before they become severe and difficult to treat. After age seven, dogs and cats are considered geriatric and may be susceptible to age related health problems. At this point in their lives, pets should go to their veterinarian twice as often,” says Dr. Luci Dimick, assistant professor in Veterinary Clinical Sciences.
Dr. Dimick explains that during a routine exam doctors auscult the heart, listening for murmurs or arrhythmias; palpate the abdomen, feeling for unusual lumps and for changes in the size of abdominal organs. Also, a complete exam includes an oral exam, looking for signs of infection in the gums or fractured teeth, as well as examining the pet's eyes and ears. Geriatric dogs and cats may be silent sufferers from arthritis, so a semi annual visit is also important to find joint pain in the hips, elbows, neck and spine. It is important for the owner to realize that many of these conditions can be treated and the early detection can aid therapy. During the exam, a veterinarian will determine if any of the pet's vaccinations need to be updated and perform routine heartworm testing and fecal testing.
The benefit to bringing your pet to Ohio State for their routine veterinary care is that if your pet needs to see a specialist no referral is necessary. The VMC has more than 42 different specialty services. Often, pets can even be seen by certain specialists the same day as their routine appointment, saving an extra trip and unneeded stress on your pet. The benefit doesn’t stop there. Bringing your pet to one veterinary office that can diagnose a multitude of health problems allows the pet to be more comfortable and allows the staff to know your pet’s complete medical history. This allows the VMC to manage patients over the course of their entire lives.
The VMC also focuses on low stress handling and restraint methods to make your pet’s visit as pleasant as possible. One of the major goals in the community practice clinic is emphasizing the importance of decreasing patient stress during routine veterinary care. The VMC even offers “happy visits” free of charge for their clients and patients. The concept of the happy visits is to condition pets to enjoy going to the vet by having visits that are full of positive experiences. This allows pets to be comfortable when they come to actual veterinary appoints, which leads to more efficient and timely care.