Currently, there are approximately 10.8 million cats and 12.5 million dogs in the UK. These figures have climbed dramatically over the past couple of years due to an increase in families taking on pets during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has also increased the number of pets failing to attend veterinary health checks, with 1 in 4 pets missing a routine appointment. Another recent study revealed only 85% of all dog owners and 89% of all cat owners are registered with a veterinary practice and less than half of those attend an annual check-up. That is a lot of pets missing out on a vital opportunity to raise concerns with their vet team and have a thorough examination by a professional.
Did you realise your veterinary team are not just available when your pet is sick? Routine health appointments are incredibly important too, not to mention benefit your pet. So, let’s take a more detailed look at why and how often you should be visiting your veterinary practice.
Do I need to be registered before a vet will see me?
As vets, we have a duty of care to your pet. We must alleviate suffering and will always make health and welfare our first consideration. To be able to practice efficiently we need to keep a record of our patients, their owner/carer details and of course their medical history. In the event of an emergency, it is much easier for all if we already have these details and can concentrate on providing care, rather than trying to obtain contact details from an upset and stressed owner.
It is always best to keep your pet’s medical records in one place, so if you move home remember to find a new clinic and arrange for your pet’s medical records to be handed over.
My pet sees the vet once a year for vaccinations, is that enough?
Annual vaccinations are an ideal time for your vet to give a thorough examination of your pet. No doubt they will pop them on the scales, have a listen to their chest and generally check them over for any new lumps or bumps or areas of concern you may have.
As well as giving them up to date protection against infectious diseases such as parvovirus or feline leukaemia virus, it also allows your vet to note any change in their health from the previous checkup as well as prescribing the correct dose of any worm or flea medication according to their weight.
In general, the first time we meet your pet is at the time of their first vaccination. In the case of young animals, benefits are abundant in seeing you more frequently than yearly. Imagine how much your puppy or kitten changes week by week, let alone over twelve months! With additional adolescent checks, we can monitor growth and changes such as loss of temporary teeth, weight, behaviour and discuss neutering. We also get to make friends with your pet, giving them positive associations with a vet visit and we get to know you, reducing stress levels when/if you do need us in an emergency.
My pet is on medication, do I need to see a vet more frequently?
This can vary from condition to condition and pet to pet. Your vet will be able to advise you on a treatment plan, including the timing of checks and any additional planned blood screens. If your pet is stable on ongoing medication they will likely need to see your veterinary team at least every 6 months. This allows them to monitor the progression of a condition, balance medication dosage and re-prescribe ongoing drugs. For some conditions or controlled drugs, or when stabilising an animal or titrating a dosage this may be more frequently.
I have an older pet, are check-ups still necessary?
With advancing years our pets can start to show signs of many progressive age-related diseases. Unless advised otherwise by your vet, 6-monthly checks may be more appropriate. By visiting your vet they can discuss any changes in eating, drinking, toileting and behaviour as well as monitoring any weight change. These can raise flags and the need for further investigation. They may also routinely advise a blood profile and urine test to look for early disease markers allowing us to slow the progression before symptoms appear.
For example, routine blood samples in a cat over the age of 7 yrs can often pick up signs of renal disease (almost half of cats aged 6-9 show signs of kidney deterioration) before your cat displays any symptoms. A cat can lose 60% of its renal function before showing symptoms.
What other wellness programs might my veterinary clinic offer?
Behind every good clinic is an army of support staff, ask the reception team to check any outstanding vaccinations or preventative treatments on your pet’s record. Some practices offer a pay monthly scheme to cover the cost across the course of the year, along with VIP discounts on microchips and neutering. They can also talk you through any wellness clinics your surgery may offer. Most often run by the nursing staff these can include adolescent checks, weight clinics, senior wellness checks and many more.
Although visiting the practice may be a little different at present, your veterinarian will have measures in place to help remotely if need be, so do not hesitate to contact them. They have remained open and accessible throughout the pandemic.
If you can do ONE thing for your pet. Please REMEMBER our homecare routine W.E.T.S.
Weigh – monthly weight check to note any unexpected changes.
Examine – nose to tail check of eyes/nose/ears, any sore skin, swollen or painful areas
Teeth – have a gentle check for any sore looking gums, teeth or oral lumps.
If you have found our blog helpful please share it with your pet-loving friends too. Help us grow our tribe of Petstoreo pet health heroes. 2 Vets: 1 Mission Happy, Healthy Pets!
You may like to browse our collection of vet designed products via our online store. Just follow the links Petstoreo for cats and Petstoreo for dogs. You will find our puzzle bowls, nail clippers and much more.