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Annual preventive healthcare exams can often reveal problems that, if left undiagnosed and untreated, could have bigger consequences later on. Dr. Nan Boss, who owns the Best Friends Veterinary Center in Grafton, Wis., shares a story about a cat named Gabby that hadn’t been to the veterinarian in years and came into her clinic with neurological problems. Gabby was so weak she couldn’t even walk.

“She’d had a stroke because of high blood pressure caused by hyperthyroidism, which can lead to a number of other health problems including weight loss, and heart and kidney disease. If we had been checking her thyroid level regularly, we would have caught the disease earlier and had her on medication, plus we would have been monitoring her blood pressure. She would never have had the stroke,” Dr. Boss says.

Gabby lived about four to five more years on thyroid medication, but Dr. Boss said that she was never the same cat and suffered from hind leg weakness until her death.

That wasn’t the only story Dr. Boss had about a patient whose quality of life would have been better with preventive care. She also shared a story about a dog that came in for a routine dental exam and was diagnosed with atrial tachycardia, a potentially life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm. Dr. Boss’ clinic offers ECG screens before administering anesthesia to pets, because, she says, “Most unexpected deaths under anesthesia are due to an undiagnosed heart problem.” The dog was rushed to an emergency clinic, where he had an echocardiogram and received medication. A routine dental exam ended up saving his life.

Doing the Right Thing
Vaccinations, along with spaying and neutering your pets, will also cut down on medical bills and keep your pet healthy by likely reducing long-term costs. One thing to remember, however, is that pet owners shouldn’t try to vaccinate their pets at home. That job should be left to a veterinary healthcare team.

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