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Why would you take a car that is running to a mechanic? Why would you test your swimming pool chemicals? Why would you pour drain cleaner down a drain that is flowing? We have been conditioned and realize it is best to keep things working rather than repair or replace them. Cars and almost anything mechanical will make a warning noise…a knock, a scraping sound, a vibration. Unfortunately, these cries for help frequently occur after damage has occurred (but hopefully while damage can be repaired).

Most companion owners seek medical care relatively soon when things go wrong with their furry friend. Injuries, sudden onset of diseases they can see: these are obvious issues calling for care. But perhaps the greatest value and need for veterinary care lies in providing reassurance of the well-being of our companions and early detection of problems before they become critical. Companions are a little like a plumbing fixture that doesn’t tell us it is about to leak…it just leaks. A light bulb doesn’t alert you it is about to burn out…it just suddenly goes dark. our furry friends don’t come equipped with a “check engine” light or a warning system that alerts us when something is out of kilter. Early warning systems and maintenance alerts are expected in today’s cars and even appliances. Little flashing LEDs or annoying little buzzers that tell us something is due to be checked.

There are early warning systems in companions but they are subtle. Certainly one is age. Anything mechanical or electronic or biologic has an expected lifespan. Now I am not suggesting we check off days on a calendar to decide how many years we have left to share with our furry friends, but we need to recognize that the pumps and filters and timing devices of an organism wear out just as they do in our cars. That is why we are admonished to check our oil, rotate our tires, check tire pressure and change air and oil filters at some regular interval. Fram oil filters had a commercial that warned “Pay me now or pay me later,” admonishing car owners to take maintenance seriously.

Other early warning signs can be seen in variations from normal behavior. He is less active, she drinks more water. She tires easily.  These changes can be pretty subtle and often don’t point us to a particular problem. Enter the veterinarian. Trained to dial in on early changes and armed with simple, non-invasive tests, the veterinarian can detect early problems and make specific recommendations to resolve or at least stabilize a problem before it is too late.

Your veterinarian and you are partners in your companions’ health. The goal is prevention or at very least early detection of disease. The inconvenience and cost is far less and in fact, the likelihood of success of preventive care is far greater than responding after problems become full blown.

By: Dr. Mike Paul, DVM

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your companions.

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