Yearly Exams or Just Vaccines?

by Dr. Shelby

In almost all consumer markets, people price shop for the best deals they can find.  We understand. Saving money is especially important in today's economy.  Often we don't think about price shopping when it comes to our own health care, but this practice is quite common amongst pet owners. And while it is important for veterinary clinics to have competitive prices for what are called "shop-able services," it is also important for pet owners to understand the value of many of these services and why they are necessary.

Perhaps the most common complaint from pet owners is the need to have a physical examination performed on their pet before receiving vaccinations.  This is even more so true when it pertains to puppy and kitten booster series where the pet is required to return every 3 -4 weeks for the first year.  With the perception from many pet owners that veterinarians are only "in it for the money" veterinarians are continually striving to educate pet owners on the importance of their services as well as the products their pet is receiving.  

Because pets can't tell us what is wrong with them, a full physical examination is important not only before vaccinations are given, but before any medical procedure or treatment is done. In addition to pets not being able to tell us when they are sick, a lack of visible symptoms could mean veterinarians are putting their patients in danger if they were to practice vaccinating without a physical examination first. Although vaccines are mostly safe to administer, a pet with an undiagnosed preexisting condition such as a compromised immune system or with dysfunctions of the kidneys, liver, heart or lungs can become severely sick if vaccinated.

So the next time you visit the vet for vaccines or any other medical treatment, remember the importance of having your four legged friend thoroughly checked over. Furthermore, consider the fact that your pet can't tell you what's wrong, and won't necessarily show you signs, so examinations should be done annually at least, even if vaccines aren't due.