Nothing is more beneficial to your pet’s health than visiting your family veterinarian for routine wellness care. Preventive care is the cornerstone of your pet’s good health and happiness, and is much more than vaccinations. Read the following story to see how annual or biannual veterinary visits are crucial to avoid stressful trips to our animal emergency hospital.
Griffin’s Emergency Veterinary Trip
The apple of his “mother’s” eye, Griffin is a rotund 10-year-old miniature schnauzer with a penchant for begging for snacks. His mom can never say no to his sweet face, and Griffin’s waistline certainly shows it. When worried family members confront his mom about Griffin’s weight, she always insists, “He’s as healthy as a horse.” Fortunately, the family has enough sense not to retort that he’s actually the size of a horse.
As time goes on and Griffin packs on more pounds, struggles to move, and begins to bump into walls and furniture, his family beseeches his mom to visit the veterinarian, but she stoutly refuses, saying that he’s been healthy since his puppy shots 10 years ago, and hasn’t needed veterinary care since.
Unfortunately, Griffin, as an overweight miniature schnauzer, was bound to get diabetes. And, since his mom didn’t think he needed routine preventive care, such as a wellness exam and baseline blood work, the signs weren’t noticed until he ended up at Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center.
When Griffin began guzzling water like a fish, became weak and lethargic, and wouldn’t eat, his mom gave in to her family’s begging for veterinary help. Griffin presented to our animal emergency hospital on a Sunday looking miserable. He lay in his mom’s arms, too weak to stand, breathing rapidly, and his beard coated in vomit. We knew he was in dire condition, and immediately began our physical exam and diagnostic testing.
Griffin’s diagnostic tests showed a glucose level that was off the charts, a high anion gap, unbalanced serum electrolytes, and ketones in his urine.
We asked about Griffin’s health history and discovered he had likely been battling diabetes for some time, as he had been drinking and urinating excessively for the past few months. The cloudiness in his eyes and bumping into furniture developed after his excessive thirst, because he acquired cataracts from uncontrolled diabetes.
Although Griffin was in critical condition, we managed to pull him through with several days of intense hospitalization, intravenous fluid therapy, short-acting insulin treatment, and potassium supplementation as needed.
During Griffin’s discharge appointment, we discussed his need for ongoing routine care with his family veterinarian to avoid another critical situation. Griffin’s mom said she would take him to the veterinarian who saw him as a puppy first thing next week, to ensure his diabetes remained under control. Fortunately for Griffin, we never saw him again.*
The importance of routine preventive care
As Griffin’s owner realized, routine preventive care can save your beloved companion from a life-threatening situation. While emergency hospital visits cannot always be avoided, preventive care goes a long way toward keeping your pet happy and healthy. During your pet’s annual or biannual visit, your family veterinarian is likely to discuss the following health care needs:
- Parasite prevention
- Nutrition and diet
- Exercise plan
- Dental care
- Environmental enrichment
- Baseline diagnostic testing, such as blood work, urinalysis, and blood pressure screening
By monitoring your pet’s health status at each wellness visit, your family veterinarian can find a problem before it becomes life-threatening. In Griffin’s case, his diabetes could have been diagnosed in the early stages through routine senior blood work, a urinalysis, and a thorough physical exam. Once he was diagnosed, his veterinarian would have monitored him closely for his insulin therapy response, and Griffin probably would never have suffered from diabetic ketoacidosis from unmanaged diabetes.
When you have a close relationship with your family veterinarian, your pet’s health-care team will likely spot any early disease signs, making diagnosis, treatment, and management much easier on you and your pet.
While we are an emergency animal hospital and referral center, we cannot preach enough about the benefits that preventive care offers you and your pet. If your family veterinarian is not available, we are here to care for your beloved companion.
*Griffin is a fictional character, not an actual patient of Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center.