Wellness Visits for Older Horses and Pets

July 7, 2014 (published)

Most folks bring their horses and petsinto the veterinarian for annual vaccinations and many feel that is all that is required for health care. However, as your horse or pet ages, vaccines are not the most important way to maintain your animal’s health. The annual examination is important as your vet should check your pet or horse to make sure all body systems are normal and then address any abnormalities. For this reason, it is important to take your horse or pet to a veterinarian who performs a complete physical exam and does not just give vaccines. Without an an annual exam with the vaccination, you are not getting your money’s worth even if you are paying less because your animal is not getting the health care it deserves.

The other important annual procedure that your pet needs is blood work to check for anemia, infection, and liver and kidney function. A urinalysis should be given. These steps are critical in older animals but also should be performed in younger animals just to get a baseline. With a baseline, your vet can not only determine health at this time, but use these results later in life to compare as the animal ages. If your dog is overweight or your cat is underweight, screening for thyroid disease is important. Also, all animals should be routinely checked for heartworm disease annually even if the dog is on heartworm preventative medication. Many horses are overweight and these horses should be screened for equine metabolic syndrome and Cushing’s disease if they are older. Make sure you choose a veterinarian that performs an annual complete physical exam on your pet and horse as this will save you money in the future.

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