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Pet Lady Question

Annual Vet Visits

January 10, 2006


Q:Every time I call to make an appointment for my catís annual shots, the receptionist also books an appointment for an annual exam.Canít I just get the shots?My cat has always been healthy so there really isnít the need for an exam.It seems like such a waste of money when all the vet does is touch my animal all over and quickly look in her eyes and ears. I can do that at home.


A:Itís great that your cat has been so healthy, and Iím sure that you want her to stay that way.Health changes within our animals can happen over a relatively short period of time.Doing daily checks by looking in their ears, eyes, and feeling their skin all over is the first step in keeping our animals healthy.After all, we have contact with them every day; the information we gather is crucial to helping the veterinarian determine if there are any problems.An annual checkup by a veterinarian can also help detect potential problems early on.Veterinarians are trained to detect all sorts of issues by just touching your animal.Your vet may be talking to you while performing the exam and seem to really be doing nothing, but all the time the vet is checking lymph nodes in the neck and muscle tone in the body.Your vet is also checking the animalís abdomen for abnormally sized organs, masses, or lumps as well as looking at the condition of your animalís fur, which can tell a lot.Using a stethoscope, the vet listens to the heart and lungs for any abnormalities.An eye inspection might reveal early cataract formation or detect any infections.Looking into your animalís ears checks for infections deep in the ear canalósomething you cannot detect by just looking with the naked eye. ††Fecal exams help determine if your animal has picked up any parasites from the ground outside or even from ingesting fleas. Dental exams are crucial.A catís mouth can harbor loose teeth, inflamed gums, tumors, and many other problems which cats are great at hiding from their human companions, and people often overlook cleaning their catís teeth.Dogs also need to have regular dental exams.Even if you clean your animalís teeth often, itís a good idea to have the vet check them once a year for plaque or gingivitis. Checking weight and body temperature yields so much valuable information.A drastic change in weight from year-to-year or an elevated temperature may indicate a problem, and the vet may do follow-up lab work to investigate further.As your animal ages, itís a good idea to ask the vet to do some baseline blood work even if your animal seems healthy.Itís a great way to discover problems early on and gives you and your vet terms for comparison if problems develop later.


Animals canít tell us how they feel or when something hurtsósome even hide pain because they donít want to show any weakness.Be sure to schedule an annual physical exam for your animals. Your veterinarian is there to be your partner in helping keep your animal healthy and happy.


Want to learn more about animal behavior? Cheryl Falkenburry has been helping people solve mind-boggling animal behavior problems for over 20 years.She holds a FREE animal discussion group at 7 p.m. the second Monday of every month at Center Hill School for those interested in learning more about their animals and meeting other animal lovers. Most animal behaviors do have solutions.Donít get rid of the animal; get rid of the behavior problem.†† Log on to www.centerhillschool.com for more information or call Cheryl at 434-591-6113.

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