New Preventive Health Guidelines From Top Veterinary Groups

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The very best way to fight disease is to prevent it in the first place.

That’s why the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association recently teamed up to create new guidelines for canine and feline preventive health care. These guidelines have been shared with veterinarians throughout the United States in hopes that they’ll help them talk to clients about disease prevention.

The new guidelines cover a wide range of preventive health care issues, from weight management and dental care to geriatric screening tests and nutrition. I’ve selected my top three prevention guidelines to share with you. I consider them to be essential ingredients in the recipe for a healthy, happy pet.

Get Your Pet to the Vet

Veterinarians have done a remarkable job over the years using vaccine postcards and emails to remind their clients to schedule visits. The downside of that success is that clients have become programmed to believe that vaccinations are the most — if not the only — important part of their pets' regular visits. Now that many vaccinations need to be given only once every three years rather than once a year, it’s no surprise that veterinarians have seen a drop in the number of annual office visits. That’s bad news for pets.

Why? Because an annual physical examination is a key ingredient in maintaining your pet’s good health. It’s a chance to talk to your veterinarian about any issues that warrant veterinary advice, such as nutrition, behavior issues, and parasite control. An annual physical also allows for early disease detection and treatment. It’s a no-brainer that the earlier cancer is detected, the better the outcome. The same holds true for heart disease, kidney disease, periodontal disease, and a host of other medical issues that might be detected during a routine exam. Here's the bottom line: Vaccines or no vaccines, get your pet to the vet at least once a year! (And even more frequently if your pet is geriatric or coping with a chronic disease.) 

Take Prevention to Heart

Heartworm disease is a very serious health problem that is easy to prevent. A parasitic infection that is spread from one animal to another by way of mosquitoes, heartworm disease is now found in all 50 states.

Heartworms set up housekeeping primarily within the heart and the blood vessels inside the lungs where they are capable of wreaking havoc on your pet’s health. Treatment for this disease isn’t always successful and can cause significant negative side effects. To make matters worse, there is a worldwide shortage of the only approved drug to treat heartworm disease in dogs. And, while it’s tempting to believe that your pet’s thick hair coat or primarily indoor lifestyle will protect her from heartworm disease, statistics prove otherwise. There, have I adequately made my case for heartworm prevention?

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