The annual health check
Veterinarians and clients have been sold on the annual visit for ‘shots' for decades - usually prompted by the need to have a valid vaccination certificate for boarding kennels during the annual Christmas holiday at the beach.
In the last five years, much research has been done to test how long immunity from disease after vaccination actually lasts - and the answer is a complex one which requires an analysis of risk of disease to an animal, its current health status, age, vaccine brand etc. A vaccination programme for our patients should be tailor-made for the individual animal if we seek to protect from dangerous diseases and do not vaccinate without need.
The most important part of the annual visit for 'shots' has always been the examination and the discussion of any concerns that the owner or veterinarian has. Vaccination status is only one aspect of the visit if we are doing our job properly! We still have a protocol to follow to ensure protection from disease but in many instances a vaccination is not required during the visit.
"Great!" We hear many of you saying "I just won't come if my pet doesn't need a vaccination, what would be the point?" It may help to think about one year as a percentage of your pet's life span. For example, one year is equal to 7% for a dog who lives to the grand old age of 15 years. This would be the equivalent of a person only visiting any health professional once every seven years ... and only if they lived to a measly 70 years! An argument could be made for more frequent checks as pets age, as health problems or concerns may develop more quickly.
A lot can happen in seven years and as a group we have decided to focus on the annual health check or vaccination visit as a chance to optimise your pet's health, not as a quick and easy five minute jab and signing of the vaccination booklet.
We look forward to seeing you all each year and remember not to throw away your pets health check reminder card next time one arrives in the mailbox!