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The importance of annual health checks

Even if you keep a close eye on your pet’s health, an annual visit to the vet for a thorough check up means extra peace of mind. Apart from helping identify any newly emerging problems before they become serious, regular health assessments will give you the chance to keep your pet’s vaccinations up-to-date, accurately weigh your pet and find out more about any issues that may be worrying you.

‘Check up’ visits

‘Check up’ visits are critical for detecting subtle changes in your pet’s physical health. Ideally, pet’s should be seen at least once every year, or more frequently as they get older or have special medical needs. Regular visits to the vet play a huge part in the ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach, so don’t just wait until it’s obvious your pet needs medical attention. Health checks are particularly important in very young animals to monitor growth and development, and once your pet is over 8 years old to allow the early detection of changes and problems that may occur in middle and old age. That way, we can show you how to stop things going wrong in your pet’s life, rather than just trying to fix them when they do.

During your visit, we will look at:

  • Dental examination
  • Weight
  • Skin and coat, general condition and lumps and bumps
  • Ears and eyes
  • Parasite control
  • Heart

As well as a thorough nose-to-tail examination and usually a booster vaccination, we offer dietary advice, monitor your pet’s weight and answer any questions you may have about their general well-being and behaviour. Remember, an annual check for a pet is the equivalent of a check-up with your doctor once every seven years.

Here at Alder Vets, during a vaccination appointment, we uncover at least one problem per week that would have otherwise gone un-noticed by the owner (through no fault of the owner I hasten to add) until later in the disease process. Many people, because their pet is living with them, don’t notice subtle changes in their behaviour or their clinical state. Early diagnosis of any disease is encouraged and achievable through these vitally important health checks.

Tiggy’s story is testament to regular health checks making a difference. She is an 11yr old Maine Coon cat attending the surgery for her annual vaccinations and health check. Tiggy was reported to have no problems, and was externally very well. However, on the routine weight check we noted a slight weight loss. On careful examination of her, it seemed she was in excellent health apart from a lump felt in her belly wall. After careful discussion with her devoted owners, it was decided this lump should be investigated. Her blood tests were all fine but an x-ray confirmed the presence of a large mass just behind her sternum. There was little doubt that this mass was a tumour. Fortunately there was no evidence of spread of this tumour on either x-rays or ultrasound. The mass was carefully removed under anaesthesia, along with parts of her rib, abdominal wall, and diaphragm. The tumour was successfully removed and she recovered amazingly well, testament to her superb pre-operative fitness. The mass, despite its size and locally invasive nature has since been proved to be relatively benign in nature and removal of the tumour will be curative, leaving her to continue to live a hopefully long and happy life.

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