In the old days, people would visit the vet on two occasions – when their animal was sick, or to get annual vaccines. Most vets would perform a check up while they had the pet in the office. But now, with the recent controversy over the necessity for vaccines, fewer pet owners are making the pilgrimage to the vet, and few pets are getting the medical attention they need.
According to the 2002 American Veterinary Medical Association’s U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographic Sourcebook (which is the AVMA’s most recent accumulation of statistical data about pets and pet owners), 16.4 percent of families with dogs skipped annual vets. Just over 16 percent may not sound like a lot, but with 61.6 million pet dogs, we’re talking millions of dogs who don’t get medical care even once a year (that’s 9.76 million to be exact).
"If you don’t take your dog to the vet at least once a year, it’s your dog that could be the real loser," says Darlene Arden, author of The Angell Memorial Animal Hospital Book of Wellness and Preventive Care for Dogs (McGraw-Hill). "Just as early detection of disease is important for people, the same is true for dogs and cats. Ultimately, this saves you money and could save your pet’s life. Even if the pet is absolutely healthy, it’s good for veterinarians to have a baseline of blood work and other diagnostic test results."
Sometimes, it’s very obvious when our best friends aren’t feeling well. But then, sometimes they just don’t show us. A Labrador Retriever may continue to play and wag that tail like there’s no tomorrow, and a stoic Shar-Pei might just keep its health issues to itself. Don’t wait for symptoms and signs that may never appear. Schedule your pet’s annual check up today.