Importance of the Veterinary Wellness Program

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  • 00:00 Wellness Program
  • 00:40 Why a Wellness Program…
  • 1:55 Key Parts of a…
  • 4:21 Why Nothing Is a Good Thing
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Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

One of the most important parts of veterinary medicine is the wellness program, as it helps patients live longer and healthier lives by screening for and preventing problems before they begin.

Wellness Program

Let's meet Cocoa, a female German Short-haired Pointer. Cocoa is expected to live about 12 years. For many pet owners who love their pets, 12 years is a very short amount of time. Not only do many owners want their dogs to live longer but they also want their quality of life to be better for longer, as well.

How can we, in the veterinary world, try to improve Cocoa's lifespan and quality of life? It's the same way we can improve a person's lifespan and quality of life; it's called screening and preventative care, or a wellness program, wellness exam, or wellness check. We'll soon go over what a typical wellness program includes and why it will help Cocoa live a better life, not to mention save Cocoa's owner buckets of money in the long run.

Why a Wellness Program is Important

Wellness programs consist of a few basic parts. The first and most important concept to understand about such a program is that it needs to be done on a routine basis. The animal should be brought in for a wellness check at least once a year even if it looks completely healthy. Just like people should get a physical exam and routine tests on a regular basis to catch problems early, so do animals.

Why? Well, it's because a veterinarian has the skills and experience to spot the very early stages of disease. The earlier you can spot the problem, the higher the likelihood you can either beat it back or at least manage it so Cocoa's quality of life doesn't deteriorate. Think about this. If firemen can catch a fire just as it starts, they can stop it more easily and salvage more of the building. If they catch it too late, they may not be able to do anything at all.

Oh, and that's not to mention the fact that most often, regular preventative care can stop disease processes that will cost way more to treat in the future than the cost of the preventative care over a lifetime. So, what I need you to know is that a wellness program tries to prevent disease outright or catch it early to prevent it from getting worse.

Key Parts in a Wellness Program

When Cocoa comes in for her annual wellness check, she'll get a few things done.

First, the veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical exam after they talk to the client about Cocoa's medical history and day-to-day activities and environment. The physical exam will include checking things like Cocoa's weight, mouth, eyes, ears, skin and coat, muscles, nerve function, heart and lung sounds, and range of motion, measurement of the full potential movement of a joint. Poor range of motion may be an indicator of things like arthritis.

By conducting a physical exam, Cocoa's veterinarian will be able to spot a lot of problems ranging from tumors, to heart conditions, to nervous system problems, and much more. It's a very ''simple'' test but can find a lot of issues. Actually, a physical exam is the veterinarian's most important test. Even though it's the most important test, it's not able to spot every problem. This is precisely why a wellness exam includes other tests such as:

  • A blood test, which will help tell the veterinarian if Cocoa has some problems with her internal organs, something that's not always evident from a physical exam
  • A urinalysis, a test that screens for signs of problems in the body by testing the urine. A urinalysis will test much more than Cocoa's kidney function; it can even spot endocrine problems, like diabetes.
  • A stool sample to check for parasites that may be causing Cocoa issues with digestion, among other things. Actually, the color, consistency, and even smell of the feces may clue a veterinarian into much deeper problems, like problems with the liver.

What I hope you can appreciate, is that all of these tests look for more than one thing. So while it looks like only 4 tests are conducted, they can actually help detect hundreds of problems. Other tests like x-rays, electrocardiograms to check the heart rhythm, behavioral and nutritional assessments may be included as necessary, on a patient-by-patient basis.

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