A recent survey by the American Animal Hospital Association has revealed an alarming trend: Only 28 percent of cats go to the veterinarian for routine examinations. Dogs fare only slightly better at 58 percent.
Of course all pets–cats and dogs–need routine vet care. I’m certainly not dismissing the need for dogs to receive medical examinations, but cats do seem especially neglected in this area; this figure is alarmingly low. Many mistakenly feel that cats don’t need veterinary visits. Maybe it’s the myth of the self-sufficient cat. Maybe cats just hide their symptoms better. Maybe some try to avoid stressing their cat out with any kind of travel. Or maybe it’s the result of a bad economy where many have financial concerns.
It’s penny-wise, pound foolish, though, because if you avoid veterinary care, you could possibly end up spending more since a small problem could easily turn into a bigger, more expensive one.
For instance, one of the things the vet will ask is about is your cat’s appetite, an extremely relevant question; if cats suddenly stop eating the body begins to use fat stores as fuel; they’re sent to the liver, to be broken down to supply nutrients. The liver sometimes can’t unable to process this fat as quickly as necessary, so the fat builds up in the liver, which interferes with normal function. The result is an illness called “Hepatic Lipidosis,” which can lead to dehydration and death.
Bottom-line, cats just can’t live for very long without food.
Here are some other reasons to take your pet–cat OR dog–for their checkups (excerpted from one of my January 12, 2012 post):
1. It’s easier to prevent the blaze rather than to extinguish the fire. When a problem is still small, it can be less complicated and less expensive to manage. “I see this a lot with dental care,” says Michael Farber, DVM, of West Chelsea Veterinary in New York City. “Sometimes people will wait until the tooth is abscessed before they come in, but if the problem was caught three or six months prior, that tooth probably could have been saved.”
2. You’ll learn how to keep your pet lean and fit: If you think your pet’s extra pound or two isn’t a big-deal, think again: A couple of extra pounds on an animal is comparable to 30-50 pounds on a human.
In the U.S., roughly half of dogs and cats are now considered to be overweight or obese, and that costs owners millions, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. When your pet is overweight it puts her at risk for chronic conditions, including diabetes, joint problems, and heart problems and more.. “The veterinary costs for these diseases can be sky-high,” said Farber. In fact, according to Healthy Pets at Mercola.Com, Veterinary Pet Insurance (VIP) said Americans paid $25 million in 2010 in veterinary bills for obesity-related problems, such as asthma, disc disease and ligament ruptures.
3. It will focus on prevention: Routine pet check-ups detect serious underlying problems, such as heart or kidney disease and, as with humans, early detection can help prevent a major, sometimes fatal, problem.
If you have financial concerns, the best thing to do, advises Farber, is not to ignore it, but to have an honest discussion with your pet’s doctor. “Discuss your financial concerns and see if you can make a plan to prioritize those things that should be done immediately, what can wait—and for how long it can wait.”
National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day was this past August 22. To commemorate, please take it to the vet if you haven’t already.
Irene Ross, CHHC, AADP is a nutrition and wellness expert for both the 4-legged and the 2-legged. A graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she received her board certification from the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.
To learn more about her human practice, please visit: http://www.irenefross.com.
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