Vet Visits- The 10 Most Common Reasons8 min read
VET VISITS REASONS ARE NUMEROUS
People take their pets to veterinary offices for a multitude of reasons. The majority of vet visits are made for medical reasons but every veterinarian has acted as part psychologist every once in a while. Often seniors would bring in their pets when there was actually nothing wrong with the animal. People just needed someone to talk to and listen to them for whatever reason. While the animal was on my exam room table I always gave it a physical exam anyway! I had many client friends of mine in my Ohio practice. If they drove by the office and didn’t see anyone in the parking lot they would drop in for a quick hello. Even the local mailman would enjoy eating his lunch with me in the waiting room! Now, on to the real reasons for vet visits! These are in no particular order, rather they are seen everyday in every hospital across the country!
If dogs and cats didn’t have two distinct ear canals ear infections would not be often treated by veterinarians. Humans have one ear canal; the horizontal ear canal. Dogs and cats have a vertical and horizontal ear canal. This anatomical configuration, by itself, increases the risk of ear infections since air circulation is impeded more when compared to a horizontal ear canal. This decreased circulation, combined with ear hair and excessive wax production, leads to an increased predisposition to bacterial or yeast ear infections. Making matters worse are those breeds that have floppy ears such as the Cocker Spaniel and Labrador Retriever. Pendulent ears practically stop any air circulation from occurring.
ITCHY SKIN AND ALLERGIES
This is perhaps one of the most common causes of vet visits every day of the year. The skin is the largest organ in the body. The main function of the skin (integument) is to protect internal organs and muscle from infection by the “skin barrier”. That barrier can be broken by any infection or allergic condition on the skin. Summertime brings out fleas and other grass pollens that cause pets to itch like crazy. In the winter, dry environmental conditions secondary to heating systems leads to dry, itchy skin. In Florida it is always warm so parasites and grass pollen are everywhere constantly!
Medical workups are a common reason for vet visits. Many times animals cannot be diagnosed and treated without performing blood work, xrays or other diagnostic procedures. These are often performed on older animals that have potential internal medical problems or accident victims just admitted to the hospital. Workups are used to make rule outs on many possible causes of why the animal is presented.
This is probably in the top 5 for vet visits when compared to the other reasons. Vomiting and diarrhea can be caused by a million different entities in dogs and cats. Hairballs, viruses, swallowing objects, eating garbage, changing food brands too quickly, pancreatitis, ingesting poisons, intestinal parasites, kidney failure, heat stroke are just a handful of issues that can cause vomiting or diarrhea. Cats always perplex their owners. A cat would simply prefer to cough up bile (yellow) colored hairballs on new carpet rather than on tile 3 inches away. This stuff stains everything! I used to tell cat owners to replace their carpets with anything yellow.
Most accidents happen during the warmer months of the year when people and animals are outside. The most common accidents are hit by car, wasp stings and heat stroke. Things just happen quickly. People love fishing in the summer. Unfortunately they take their dogs or cats along. Animals love the smell of bait and get fish hooks caught on every conceivable part of the body. Some dogs are presented with the lure hanging from the tongue. Sort of like a cover on National Geographic.
URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS/LITTER BOX PROBLEMS
Urinary tract infections make up a huge component of vet visits to any medical office. These infections are most commonly seen in female dogs and cats. In the canine population most infections are caused by an “ascending infection” of bacteria in the vaginal area that creep into the urethra and then to the bladder where the infection begins. The most common cause of infections in cats is an excessive level of ash/magnesium in the diet. Compared to 25 years ago, the problem in cats has been reduced greatly by improvements in dietary formulations that have restricted dietary magnesium. People care for their pets but do not want urine spotting all over their homes. Cat urine is almost impossible to get out completely from ANY surface.
UPPER RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS
Most respiratory infections are caused by viruses, allergies, fungi or bacteria. They are most commonly seen in young puppies and kittens due to their immature immune system. Like children, young animals pick up every conceivable infection known to man. Once they are fully immunized and develop a mature immune system, respiratory infections are not as common. Cats seem to suffer much more than dogs. Cats can also develop respiratory infections secondary to the Herpes Virus. What makes cats feel even more miserable is the conjunctivitis that usually accompanies the upper respiratory infection. Vet visits like these are quite common.
This is a problem usually seen in outdoor cats. Cats love to roam and tangle with males that have not been neutered. Cat fights do happen indoors with a house full of cats but it is primarily a problem with outdoor animals. An indoor cat is a cat that is kept indoors all the time. If the cat suns itself outside for 5 minutes on an outdoor patio once a week, it is an outdoor cat! Anything can (and it always does) happen in 5 minutes. Most of these cat fights lead to painful abscesses that have to be lanced and drained plus a minimum of two weeks of antibiotics. Outdoor, male tomcats are the leading carriers of FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) that is transmitted most commonly by bite wounds. FIV is a kissing cousin to Feline Leukemia. Most veterinarians test and vaccinate for both conditions.
Florida law states that every animal presented for whatever reason has to receive a physical exam. I am sure the laws are very similar in most states. A good physical exam is the hallmark of good medicine. Combined with a medical history, if known by the client, it helps point doctors in the right direction when trying to figure out what is wrong with the patient. All new puppies constantly receive physicals. The initial physical helps to rule out congenital medical conditions such as umbilical hernias and cleft palates.
One of the best ways to prevent disease in young puppies and kittens is by following a medically directed vaccine protocol. Modern veterinary medicine is equipped with all the tools to prevent the majority of infectious diseases that can potentially prove fatal to dogs and cats. Vaccines have to be administered every 3- 4 weeks until the patient is at a minimum of 16-18 weeks of age. Rabies vaccination (always a killed virus) is usually given when the patient is brought in for its last set of boosters. Vaccinations are repeated annually in most animals. Most veterinarians will formulate a vaccination protocol for elderly animals or those that have compromised immune systems.