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Why Should You Take a Seemingly Healthy Pet to the Vet?

Reviewed by Peter Kintzer DVM, DACVIM on Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Posted August 14, 2013 in Dog Checkups & Preventive Care

Dog running

Dr. Mike Paul explains why preventive care and early detection are important to give your pet the healthiest, happiest life possible.

Why would you take a car that is running to a mechanic? Why would you test your swimming pool chemicals? Why would you pour drain cleaner down a drain that is flowing? We have been conditioned and realize it is best to keep things working rather than repair or replace them. Cars and almost anything mechanical will make a warning noise…a knock, a scraping sound, a vibration. Unfortunately, these cries for help frequently occur after damage has occurred (but hopefully while damage can be repaired).

Most pet owners seek medical care relatively soon when things go wrong with their pet. Injuries, sudden onset of diseases they can see: these are obvious issues calling for care. But perhaps the greatest value and need for veterinary care lies in providing reassurance of the well-being of our pets and early detection of problems before they become critical. Pets are a little like a plumbing fixture that doesn’t tell us it is about to leak…it just leaks. A light bulb doesn’t alert you it is about to burn out…it just suddenly goes dark. Pet’s don’t come equipped with a “check engine” light or a warning system that alerts us when something is out of kilter. Early warning systems and maintenance alerts are expected in today’s cars and even appliances. Little flashing LEDs or annoying little buzzers that tell us something is due to be checked.

There are early warning systems in pets but they are subtle. Certainly one is age. Anything mechanical or electronic or biologic has an expected lifespan. Now I am not suggesting we check off days on a calendar to decide how many years we have left to share with our pets, but we need to recognize that the pumps and filters and timing devices of an organism wear out just as they do in our cars. That is why we are admonished to check our oil, rotate our tires, check tire pressure and change air and oil filters at some regular interval. Fram oil filters had a commercial that warned “Pay me now or pay me later,” admonishing car owners to take maintenance seriously. 

Other early warning signs can be seen in variations from normal behavior. He is less active, she drinks more water. She tires easily.  These changes can

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Mike has more than 35 years of experience in companion animal veterinary practice and is a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2013.