Wellness Medicine – The best route to affordable pet health care

Wellness Medicine
The best route to affordable pet health care

By Dr. Ed Mapes
Stonebridge Animal Hospital
McKinney, Tx.

Rising costs in the health care market are a major concern for many Americans, and has been the source of great debate on Capitol Hill for the past three years. The prices we pay for doctor visits, lab testing, hospitalization, and medications continues to increase even though the country’s economy has been struggling to recover from its depths four years ago. Health insurance is so expensive that millions of Americans go without this basic need every day.

This concern for health care affects our pets as well, with less disposable dollars available to spend on them even when serious situations occur. The incontrovertible truth is that illness prevention remains the most effective means of controlling overall health care costs.

We veterinarians must do a better job of educating pet owners about the benefits of wellness-based animal care. If we do a good job of this attention to basic health maintenance, we’re able to prevent many diseases from arising in the first place and detect problems that do arise early – when treatment is easier, with better outcomes, and for much less cost.

This approach maintains the animals’ health on a daily basis; helping them to live happier, healthier lives. Isn’t that what we want for these important members of our families?

Picture the 8-year old dog or cat that has always been basically healthy, but inattention to dental disease has slowly led to severe tooth and gum infections. Chewing hard food has become so painful that eating is a daily chore, and weight loss slowly becomes evident.

The constant gum disease serves as a reservoir of infection as bacteria enters the blood stream and disperses to all tissues of the body. Infection spreads to the heart and kidneys, and damage to these essential organs begins – this leads to a leaky heart valve and elevated blood pressure. The pet never seems playful, prefers sleeping, is thin and has a dry hair coat, and just isn’t the same any more. This pet exists – it doesn’t live life – and all because the situation is allowed to go on unchecked.

This is a scenario that plays out every day, and is absolutely preventable with basic wellness care. A yearly veterinary exam for young animals and twice-yearly visits for seniors helps us detect this type of problem and provide early, effective therapy before the overall health is affected.

We stress the importance of keeping vaccines current to ward off disease, annual fecal examinations to prevent intestinal parasites, heartworm/tick disease testing, and the all-important thorough examination as basic preventative medicine. Routine blood testing and urinalysis is highly recommended as a part of this wellness program – modern in-house lab equipment allows us to provide fast and accurate results that find illness in early stages. Radiographs too are a great screening method, and are especially valuable in senior patients.

Have a discussion with your veterinarian about wellness programs designed to maintain health, prevent illness, and to detect abnormalities at an early stage. While one of the most enjoyable aspects of medicine from my standpoint is to take on the difficult cases and bring patients back to health from serious disorders, it makes so much more sense to prevent those situations in the first place. I’ll always have plenty of those cases to perk my interest; let’s work together to keep our pets healthy and control the costs of their care.

Comments are closed.