By: Thomas J. Armstrong, DVM

While vaccinations are important, the traditional model of bringing pets to the veterinarian every year just to get their shots is no longer the basis of preventative health care in pets. In fact, as newer, longer lasting, and more effective vaccines continue to pass the efficacy test in dogs and cats, it will become less and less necessary to receive booster vaccinations for certain diseases. Already, canine parvovirus protection is lasting up to three years in adult dogs and canine distemper vaccination as puppies is being shown to possibly create lifelong protection. As the vaccine companies restructure their vaccines to make them less of a combination and more as individual vaccines, the vaccination protocols at animal hospitals, including ours, will continue to evolve.

In addition things such as year round heartworm prevention are vital more now than ever before. Numbers of heartworm positive cases have skyrocketed over the last several years, and this is likely due in part to using prevention on a “seasonal” basis. Based on the most up to date studies and continued education available we highly recommend that your pet is tested yearly and kept up to date on their prevention each month. In addition, all senior pets are recommended for senior wellness blood work! As we all continue to age, the body ages with us and some disease processes can begin far before we ever see our beloved pet’s present with symptoms. Keeping their annual blood work up to date allows us to monitor their baseline normals, and to ensure we are able to preemptively catch changes in their liver, or kidney values, electrolyte balances, and even their blood glucose levels. Your pet’s health is of the utmost priority at State Road Animal Hospital, however, with that said we realize that what works for one may not work for all, and our team is fully prepared to work out a preventive and or treatment plan that works for both you, and your pet. Our team is built upon highly skilled, licensed individuals from our DVMs to our Licensed Veterinary Technicians, and even our certified Veterinary Assistants.

In 2011, the American Veterinary Medical Association modified the oath that we all take as veterinarians to include the prevention of animal suffering rather than just treatment of it. That is a huge change, as veterinarians are now expected-and rightly so-to do everything in their professional power to perform comprehensive examinations and have more detailed discussions with pet owners pertaining to prevention of disease and the suffering that results. We take that oath seriously, which is why we have focused for so long on the importance of the annual wellness exam in our patients. There are so many disease processes that can be effectively managed if caught early on physical exam or on lab testing, thereby preventing that patient from having to endure the pain of uncontrolled disease.

So, preventive health care now means much more than just giving a pet their shots. And progressive veterinary hospitals around the country embrace and understand that. In fact, veterinarians that continue to view preventive care as simply giving vaccines with a cursory exam or no exam at all are already finding themselves in trouble with the veterinary association and sometimes with the law as they fail to live up to the new standards of preventive care.

Our purpose for existing as State Road Animal Hospital is to do everything we can to support and enhance the relationship between people and their pets. Annual wellness exams and educating pet owners on tests and protocols available to maintain their pet’s health go a long way toward fulfilling that purpose and providing our patients with the best possible preventive health care program.

Check out the American Animal Hospital Association guidelines for preventive health care on our website. And when you bring your pet in to us, bring your questions about vaccinations, blood testing, and anything else you would like to discuss regarding the health needs of your pet.