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Annual Exams are Essential Before Vaccines

You’ve just received a reminder card for your pet’s annual vaccines and you call to schedule an appointment. You find out it’s now required for your pet to see the veterinarian prior to receiving the vaccinations and wonder why. Well, here are some reasons why it is important for your pet to have an exam prior to vaccination!

Vaccines Are Only Administered to Healthy Animals

It is becoming a general industry standard to examine all patients before giving injections. All vaccine labels say the medicine is to be administered to healthy patients. How do we determine that a patient is healthy and who makes that final decision?

Most people will say that their pet seems healthy, but when we start asking questions, we discover that many pets have an underlying issue.

Key Questions Asked During Vaccine Visits:

  • Has your pet’s appetite and/or thirst level increased or decreased?
  • Does your pet cough?
  • Does your pet get around (getting up and down, going up and down stairs, etc) as well as it did 6 months ago?
  • Has your pet lost or gained weight?
  • What is the consistency of your pet’s bowel movements?
  • Have your pet’s urination or defecation habits changed?

These questions (and many more!) provide important information that may lead to the detection of underlying disease.

The Physical Exam of Your Pet

The physical exam allows your veterinarian to speak for your pet. There may be a broken, abscessed, or painful tooth that you had no idea was present. Most animals will continue to eat and lead a normal life even with severe dental disease!

It is our job as veterinarians to find underlying issues and be the voice of your pet. Here are a few more ailments your veterinarian may uncover during a physical exam:

  • Weight loss/gain

    • This is easier if your pet has been to the clinic for regularly scheduled exams and there is a weight history in the medical record. Weight loss or gain can be a sign of hormonal (endocrine) diseases, heart disease, kidney disease, joint pain, and many other issues.
  • Lumps and bumps

    • You may have noticed new lumps and bumps or want one checked out that’s been there for a long time. Your veterinarian may also discover a lump you haven’t noticed. The sooner a lump is addressed, the better!
  • Eye disease

    • Cataracts, glaucoma, corneal ulcers and uveitis can all be painful, vision-impairing diseases that are best addressed early on in the disease.
  • Ear disease

    • Many pets suffer from chronic ear infections and can even lose their hearing because of them.
  • Nutritional deficiencies

    • Poor hair coat or hair loss, low muscle mass, low energy and growth deficiencies can all indicate poor nutrition.
  • Orthopedic issues

    • Older pets that start moving more slowly can be treated for arthritis and any age animal may have orthopedic issues such as luxating patellas or hipdysplasia. Your veterinarian can help you come up with a pain management plan that best suits you and your pet.

What If There’s A Problem?

If we discover certain diseases during the physical exam, it may be best to hold on administering vaccines to your pet until treatment is completed. Vaccines could make your pet feel bad or worse if given at an inappropriate time.

Our pets age much faster than we do, and if your pet gets one exam every year, that would be like a human going to the doctor once every seven years! We will work with you to help keep your pets as healthy and as pain free as possible.

Call today to schedule your pet’s annual exam and vaccine appointment!

Animal Hospitals KY


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