Twice Yearly Exams
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Twice Yearly Exams
It is one of my exam room mantras -- "all pets, especially seniors, need twice yearly examinations and yearly blood and urine testing. "I am glad I actually listened to myself.
Though my cat, Zachary, appeared to be perfectly fit, on his 16th birthday, I popped him into his carrier and brought him with me to work for his twice yearly exam. I am sure he thought this birthday present was as exciting as receiving a gift of underwear. I was surprised to discover that even though his lab tests a year earlier were absolutely normal, they weren't now. His test indicated that his kidneys were weakening and he had evidence of an overactive thyroid. By diagnosing these conditions early, I was able to monitor his lab values, modify his diet, and medicate him resulting in extending his good quality of life until 19 years old.
Pet owners are often skeptical when I discuss the need for twice yearly examinations. As a rule, people don't visit their own doctors unless they're ill. Veterinarians as a whole, practice preventative medicine. We want to prevent your pet from becoming ill and when we are able to diagnose a problem early they are usually easier and less expensive to treat and typically have a more favorable outcome.
Pets age more rapidly than you and I. As our bodies mature, things start to wear out. Internal organs and our immune systems weaken. The incidence of cancer ramps up. Even our ability to move around with ease becomes compromised. By having your pet visit your veterinarian at least every 6 months for a wellness exam, you and your veterinarian, working as a team can help to insure that your pet ages successfully.
You are a critical member of this team approach. You know your pet better than anyone else. Keep a wellness diary and make note of changes in - appetite, attitude, and body weight. Record any odor from the ears or mouth, jot down differences in water intake, bowel patterns, vision or ability to hear. Though these changes may be small, subtle can be significant.
Bring your diary with you to the wellness exams. This information is part of the history portion of the visit. Depending on the history and the physical examination, your veterinarian may recommend diagnostics such as blood and urine testing, an electrocardiogram to determine the heart's health, x-rays or possibly an ultrasound study. Together, the history, physical examination and diagnostics give your pet's doctor the most accurate assessment of your dog or cat's quality of life.
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