Why Is a Yearly Check-Up Important for Your Pet?

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When it comes to caring for our pets in San Pedro, something that is commonly overlooked is a yearly check-up by a veterinarian.  This is also known as a physical exam in veterinary terms.  We tend to look at our pets and say, “Well, he looks fine to me this year!”, and that is the extent of it.  While this may seem very practical, it is not necessarily the best way to protect our pets’ on-going health. 
So, what can a veterinarian tell by looking at your pet that you can’t?  Well, first of all, we are going to check to see that he or she is up to date on all vaccinations.  This is an important part of any yearly exam, but not the ONLY important part.  If your pet is up to date on his shots then great.  Next we take what we call a “history” for your pet.  How is his energy?  His appetite?  Vomiting? Diarrhea?  Is she drinking more water or urinating more than she used to?  Is he itchy?  Does he have problems with fleas or ticks?  What about his joints?  Is he an older dog?  If so, then maybe a lack of energy that you have attributed to “old age” is actually from joint pain.  Joint pain is generally very treatable. These are examples of some of the topics that may need to be discussed.
The next step is the actual physical examination of your pet.  Believe it or not the single most important aspect of your pet’s health is his weight.  Is he underweight or overweight?  Pet’s who are of the optimal weight live longer and are healthier than pets who are overweight.  Underweight pets typically have an underlying medical disorder or are being underfed. 
Next we look in his ears with an otoscope.  If he has been shaking his head he may have an ear infection you were not aware of.  Then we check his eyes.  Eye problems can also be a sign of more serious underlying diseases.  Next the teeth.  You may not realize that the health of your pet’s teeth can affect his overall health.  Dental disease leads to infections and painful teeth that cause an animal to eat less, as well as cause him to have a poor quality of life.  In geriatric animals, euthanasia is sometimes the only alternative when pets are not healthy enough to undergo anesthesia to treat painful, infected or rotting teeth.  Your veterinarian can discuss ways for you to maintain the health of your pet’s teeth so that he never has to suffer from painful dental disease.
There are many more aspects to the physical exam, but the final important example is your pet’s skin.  Parasites like fleas and ticks are difficult to control and can lead to skin problems as well as serious secondary infections from the bacteria they carry.  At your pet’s yearly check-up your vet can assess your pet’s skin and offer advice for controlling itching, allergies, infections, and parasites. 
Right now, at San Pedro Animal Hospital, we are offering a special promotion.  With any yearly check-up you will receive a FREE mini-panel for your pet.  What the heck is that? you might wonder.  A mini-panel is a small blood test used to screen healthy pets.  It checks the inside of your pet the same way your vet checks the outside.  With just a few drops of blood we can check the health of your pet’s liver and kidneys while you wait!  Liver and kidney tests are especially important for older pets or for pets who take medications. The panel only takes 15 minutes to run, and it also checks for diabetes, which pets can develop just like people.  San Pedro Animal Hospital is the only hospital in Belize who can run blood tests using a machine made specifically for dogs and cats, rather than for people.  This means results are not only quick, they are accurate.
So bring in your pet today for his yearly check-up.  You know he hasn’t seen a vet for at least a couple of years, and now you can get a thorough physical exam, including a blood test, for only $50.  This is a $150 value, and we only have 11 tests available before they expire on March 26th.  Isn’t the health of your pet worth $50 once a year?
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s health, please come by San Pedro Animal Hospital or call us at 610-DOGS.  We have office hours Mon-Sat and we are available for emergencies after-hours.

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