Dear Human,

It’s me—your favorite furry friend. It’s a new year, and I know you are excited about your New Year resolutions—including the one to prioritize my health care and improve my quality and quantity of life.

A trip to the veterinarian is definitely not my favorite thing, but I consider myself extremely wise, and I understand how much preventive wellness care can improve my health. Plus, the amazing Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Groves team members, who have been caring for me since I was a baby, always help me feel calm and safe when I visit them. Keep reading to learn about some of the many benefits of regular wellness care, and how we can work together to make 2023 my happiest, healthiest year yet.

#1: Wellness exams provide a baseline for your pet’s health

Some pet owners think they need to take their pet to the veterinary clinic only when they are ill, but I’m going to tell you a little secret. Most pets are experts at masking their pain and will not show any signs of illness or disease until they are really miserable, when their condition likely has progressed and is much more difficult to treat. If only we shared a common language, I could explain that I’m not feeling well, but we can blame my wild ancestors, who learned to mask their vulnerabilities (e.g., an injured paw) that would make them a predator’s prime target. I know, my only predator is the vacuum, but I can’t shake my old instincts, making regular health screenings extremely important. At my annual exam, my veterinarian will give me a thorough physical examination, run some blood work and other diagnostic screenings, and discuss my exercise regimen and diet. I know I am perfectly healthy right now, but the workup results will establish my baseline values, or be compared with previous results, and help my veterinarian to quickly catch any potential disease signs early when they can provide better treatment and I have a better prognosis 

#2: Wellness exams provide immunity for common pet diseases

I do not love getting poked by needles, but I try to look at the bigger picture. I know that vaccines are essential for immunity against common infectiousoften deadlydiseases. Vaccines also benefit you and your family by reducing your risk of contracting a zoonotic disease (i.e., an infectious disease that animals can transmit to humans). Some diseases that vaccines protect against include:

  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Parvovirus 
  • Parainfluenza
  • Hepatitis

#3: Wellness exams protect your pet from parasites

Insects, worms, and other parasites that frequently target pets can cause significant health issues. Fortunately, annual parasite testing and a year-round parasite prevention plan can protect me from these annoying creepy crawlies, including: 

  • Heartworms 
  • Fleas
  • Ticks
  • Intestinal worms

 #4: Wellness exams help your pet maintain a healthy weight

Human obesity has been a major health issue for some time, and the condition is becoming increasingly common in pets. I need you to help me maintain my healthy weight, and wellness care helps my veterinarian monitor my body condition and weight over time. My veterinarian will assess my weight using a body condition scoring (BCS) system to determine if I am at a healthy weight and customize a healthy weight loss plan if I am overweight. 

#5: Wellness plans reduce your pet’s dental disease risk

Dental disease is one of the most common—and preventable—conditions in pets, with most pets having some degree of periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years of age. Dental disease is caused by oral bacteria that damage my gums, teeth, and tooth structures. After I eat, the sticky plaque that forms on my teeth hardens into cement-like tartar, trapping bacteria in and around the gum line and tooth roots. You can help prevent tartar buildup by combining an at-home dental care routine with regular professional dental exams and cleanings. My dental care plan should include:

  • Toothbrushing — Routine at-home toothbrushing with a pet-safe toothpaste is the gold standard for preventing plaque buildup.
  • Dental products — Veterinary dental diets, chews, treats, and water additives approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) can effectively reduce plaque and tartar accumulation.
  • Professional cleanings — Regular dental cleanings and X-rays under anesthesia are often necessary to address disease and identify problem areas hiding below the gum line.

I can already tell this year is going to be amazing, because prioritizing my wellness care will help me live my best life. Start by scheduling my annual wellness exam as soon as possible—contact Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Groves and make an appointment.