By Dr. Kim Cargill, DVM
Preventative care has long been the standard in human medicine, but it seems that only recently are we beginning to realize its relevance with our pets. In people, it is common place to have routine physical exams which frequently includes blood work and blood pressure monitoring. In young children and seniors, the screening is even more intense, with vision checks, colonoscopies, mammograms, just to name a few. The reason for this is that over time, we have realized that it is better to catch and treat issues early, because that treatment is often more effective and is able to prevent disease progression to a more severe and less controllable state. In pets, we are finding this to be similar.
The main difference between humans and pets however, is that their metabolism is generally 5-7 times ours. As such, diseases can progress much more rapidly. Additionally, pets cannot tell us if something subtle is bothering them and they are conditioned to mask signs of illness because many would become prey in the wild if they are obviously ill. For these reasons and more, preventative care is even more paramount, especially in young pets and senior pets.
So the question then is, what is preventative care in pets and what does it entail? There are really two parts to this. First off, the prevention. Most people think of preventative care as routine screening and examinations in attempt to detect subclinical (not obvious) disease. This may include but is not limited to, yearly to semiannual physical examinations. Blood work monitoring, dental cleanings, imaging such as x rays may also be recommended depending on the age, condition, and breed of the pet. Also, new to Cicero Animal Clinic, we also have digital thermal scanning that can detect changes in blood flow and areas of inflammation in pets.
The second part is the care, which pet owners play an even more critical role in. This includes brushing your pets’ teeth at home, routine administration of flea and heart worm prevention, bathing, toe nail trims, and feeding a healthy diet, just to name a few.
Hopefully, as we become better at prevention of disease in pets, we will be able to help more pets live longer, healthier, and happier lives with their families.