The “dot-dot-dot” above can be followed by all kinds of interesting things, from having some chronic medication filled, to advice for some particular medical condition. But without your even completing that sentence there are many times when we already have the answer for you… “Yes.” If we have never seen you as a client before, the default answer is always “Yes.” If we have seen you but not this particular pet of yours before, the answer again is “Yes.” If we’ve seen you and this pet before but it has been over a year since the pet has been seen with us, the answer is once again “Yes.” The state board of veterinary medicine strictly imposes and enforces upon us as part of our licensure that we do not dispense medical advice or prescriptions without a “valid client patient relationship” (VCPR). The basic premise of the VCPR is fulfilled when we’ve seen you and the particular pet in question within a year’s time. Without those criteria met, as you see above, the answer as to whether you “need to make an appointment for…” is always “Yes.”
Other than passing the first criteria of the VCPR, the answer on whether your pet needs an appointment is most commonly “Yes” anyway. We strive to do the best in providing healthcare for your pet. A one-on-one conversation directly with the doctor during an appointment helps avoid miscommunications that may happen through “whisper down the lane” phone messages. An examination performed by the doctor may yield information important for a diagnosis that an owner may have overlooked or underestimated. Without seeing both you and your pet then the advice we give over the phone about an issue might be improper. We do not wish to make errors, both for the sake of your pet’s health, and for the sake of your own time and finances.
Given all the above considerations, we’re sure you’ll understand when our knee-jerk answer will be “Yes, you should make an appointment for…” The times when we might say “No” are usually in circumstances where we’ve seen you and your pet recently, dealing with either the same issue for which you’re calling, or some new development resultant from that problem. In those times the answer will usually come in the form of leaving a message that will be brought to the doctor’s attention. If when you call you feel your pet’s issue is of great urgency, or a true emergency, then of course it should be seen. We will attempt to accommodate your pet’s health emergency during our regular business hours when appropriate, or give you contact information for nearby facilities that can attend to your pet’s needs if we are unable.
My pet isn’t due for vaccines this year. Do I need to bring it in for a yearly visit?
For the last ten or so years the trend in the veterinary industry, based on studies of the duration of vaccine efficacy, has been to give dogs and cats their vaccines less frequently. We won’t go into the science behind when and how we determine whether your pet is properly boostered, nor how long their vaccines are good for in this discussion. Instead we’re focused here on answering the common question of whether they still need to come in if a vaccine is not due. The short answer is “Yes.”. But read on for some interesting reasons why!
Think from a perspective in relation to yourself. Most people see the value in going to see their own doctor on a yearly basis for a wellness visit. Usually they are not due for vaccines, but they see the value in going because they understand that the doctor knows best and that if something abnormal was found it is better to address sooner rather than later. Now take that mindset and realize that our pets may only live about one-sixth of our own lifespan. If they get a yearly wellness visit, they are only getting to see their doctor about every six “human years”! Your doctor would not be very happy with you if you only stopped in every six years.
A lot can happen in six years. Then think that if you skipped one of your “every six year” appointments because you “didn’t need a vaccine”, you wouldn’t see the doctor for twelve years straight!! To you this analogy may sound silly, but from our perspective as veterinarians, it really is true. Our pets live shorter lives, and therefore age faster in relation to us. They absolutely need a yearly examination, and you could argue for visits even more frequent than yearly from the mathematical perspective we just described.
A small heart murmur, a benign looking skin mass, a potentially arthritic joint, dirty teeth and the relationship oral health has to whole body health… all these things can change drastically from one year’s exam to the next. By the next yearly visit one of these issues could be to the point of crisis that an untrained eye may not perceive. So, please bring your pet to us, even if they don’t need a vaccine in that particular year.
You could also draw an analogy to your children and their pediatrician. You may think that your child is healthy. But you’re probably certain to take them for their yearly or milestone visits since you would acknowledge that you wouldn’t want to see them come to harm by not having been looked at by a doctor. Like our children, and even more so, our pets cannot properly tell us if there is a problem. The early symptoms of diseases are often subtle anyway.
There is more that we accomplish on a yearly wellness visit other than a physical examination. We highly advise that your pet gets certain labwork done, such as a yearly heartworm test and fecal examination. Intestinal parasites are common, and many times will only be found on a fecal exam. Parasites are usually not seen with the naked eye at home. Long-term parasitism can lead to serious health issues, as well as be a risk to you and your human family members! Check out this link to the CDC to find out what top human healthcare professionals advise in regards to how keeping your pets healthy can keep you and your family healthy as well (http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/). Another fantastic thing that can be done at a yearly examination is a “wellness panel”. This is a chemistry and CBC panel, offered at a promotional discount as part of a commitment toward caring for your pet in a preventative manner. A physical examination alone cannot find every symptom of disease. We can do an even better job watching out for problems and finding them early if you also have a wellness panel run on your pet’s blood. Remember that it is safest for your pet in the long run to have chronic problems caught early when we can do more to help control and slow the damage that problem may have on the rest of the body.
A last important reason to bring your pet in for a yearly visit, even on years when a vaccine is not due, is for certain legality issues. The state board of veterinary medicine does not allow us veterinarians to dispense most medications without keeping up with a “valid client-patient relationship”. A standard of care held by the board is for us to have seen your pet on a yearly basis in order to dispense their chronic prescriptions and preventatives. Your pet may not be on medications like that, but even so we are mandated to keep yearly examinations even if only to answer things you may think are simple questions over the phone about your pet’s health and care. We need to see your pet because it is appropriate and legally mandated upon us. We do not wish to jeopardize our own licensure and ability to be here caring for your pets. Sometimes we will need to be sticklers because of those rules. But ultimately those rules are centered on your pet’s best interest.
Hopefully you’ve learned some things through this discussion. The question of whether your pet needs to come in for an examination even if a vaccine is not due may sound like a simple one. But, now you may see the complexity behind our simple answer… “Yes!” See you soon!
We have once again decided to set aside both February and March to focus on dental health. Dental health greatly affects the overall health of our pets. Even though they are adept at hiding it, poor dental health can be very painful for our four-legged family members!
As our promotion for Dental Health Season, if your pet’s dental procedure is completed in the months of February and March; we are offering a free dental x-ray evaluation (a value of $80)! Since dentals are done under anesthesia, we will require that your pet has had a physical examination with us in the last year and has recent up-to-date bloodwork to evaluate their safety for the procedure.
Dr. Estelle is well trained and well experienced in veterinary dental techniques for pets. His own father and brother are dentists for people! Dr. Estelle’s passion for proper pet dental care has lead him to take specialized training seminars on pet dental care. At BFVP we have a dental x-ray machine and high quality digital equipment to evaluate your pet’s oral health. With these tools we can catch disease that might not be evident on the surface, yet still hurts your pet and affects their health.
Hundreds of times over pet owners tell us that their pet acts more like a puppy or kitten after a dental procedure. Please call us to learn more or to schedule an appointment today!
Blandon Family Veterinary Practice is setting the months of February and March to be their “Dental Health Season”. The topic of a dental health month is a familiar one with most veterinary facilities. Here at BFVP, we are enormous advocates for the topic of dental health… so much so that we want to offer you the opportunity for discounted dental care for a longer time.
Poor dental health is a matter that affects almost every pet we see. Periodontal disease and other dental problems are painful! Pets are so good at hiding pain of all sorts that you cannot suppose they’re doing fine because they’re not moaning or crying like we do when our mouth hurts. Unlike us, they cannot call out of work and go to the dentist. They’ve got deep seated instincts not to show pain. Their wild counterparts, if they show pain, will be picked on by their comrades, killed and eaten by predators, or just waste away and die if their mouth hurts too much for them to eat properly.
Hundreds of times over we’ll have pet owners remark to us that their pet is more like a puppy or kitten after their dental procedures were done! That’s because dental problems hurt, and their owner didn’t realize how much so until we did the procedure. Studies also clearly show that pets with good dental health live longer!
Dr. Estelle is well trained and well experienced in veterinary dental techniques for pets. His own father and brother are dentists for people! Dr. Estelle’s passion for proper pet dental care has lead him to take specialized training seminars on pet dental care. At BFVP we have a dental x-ray machine and high quality digital equipment to evaluate your pet’s oral health. With these tools we can catch disease that might not be evident on the surface, yet still hurting your pet and affecting their health.
As our promotion for Dental Health Season, we are offering your pet free dental x-ray evaluation if their dental procedure is completed in the months of February or March! Please call us to learn more. Since dentals are done under anesthesia, we will require that your pet has had a recent physical examination with us, and up-to-date bloodwork to evaluate their safety for the procedure.
Let us take care of your pet’s dental health. They will thank you for it!