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Why National Pet Wellness Month?

Updated on January 1, 2017
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Isn't Every Month Pet Wellness Month?

There's a good reason why you aren't aware that October is National Pet Wellness Month. The reason is because it continues to be whispered from the mountain tops. Personally, I think the campaign is a very good one, yet continues to be "visibility-challenged."

An initiative of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Fort Dodge Animal Health (a manufacturer of veterinary drugs), and Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) it is largely an "in-house" educational program, with literature available at veterinary clinics.

According to the AVMA website, National Pet Wellness Month focuses on educating pet owners about wellness examinations, disease prevention, and pet health insurance. Studies have shown that, on average, clients with pet health insurance schedule more veterinary visits. My guess is that's most likely because insurance is available for routine wellness care as well as injuries and illnesses.

The "Pet Wellness Starts With A Plan" campaign was the 2012 theme of the National Pet Wellness initiative.

Advances in veterinary medicine and animal nutrition have led to an increased population of aging cats and dogs in this country. Unlike us though, cats and dogs can't tell you where it hurts. An exam every six months enables vets to detect problems early, and in some cases before they develop.

Of course aging in dogs and cats is accelerated, especially after age 5 or 6. The old "1 human-year equals 7 dog-years" formula isn't really valid. The generally accepted "rule of thumb" scale considers a medium-sized dog weighing between 21 and 50 pounds to be in childhood the first six months, teen years from about 6 to 13 months, young adult from 14 months to 4 years, middle age from 4 to 7 years, and senior from then on.

Thus, a 1 year old dog would be the developmental equivalent of a 15 year old human, a 3 year old dog the equivalent of a 28 year old human, and a 7 year old dog the equivalent of a 47 year old human. So many variables (weight, breed, genetics, etc) come into play, that it's difficult to pinpoint the animal aging process.

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The focus of the AVMA wellness initiative is older dogs and cats, although they consider all pets a part of the program. Because pets are living longer they encounter more health issues, and the older they get, the more susceptible they become.

Geriatric pets fall victim to many of the same health problems that we geriatric humans do. They get gray, their coats get thinner, their skin loses its suppleness. There are changes in the heart, kidneys and other major organs.

They get arthritis-like symptoms, their hearing and eyesight diminish, they can even get a form of doggie Alzheimer's Disease known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (or Disorder). Their bowels and bladders don't work as well as they used to, and they can really lose their taper.

You’ll probably notice that these changes can sometimes come fast and furious. You bring your dog in for his annual check-up, the vet is happy with what he sees, and, boom, a few months later the dog has developed something.

You keep an eye on things for a few more months, and eventually you schedule him for an appointment to see what the problem is. Quite often the delay, from the onset of symptoms to the exam and diagnosis, is of no serious consequence. But more often, quicker action may have resulted in a better outcome.

And that's why contemporary protocols suggest semi-annual check-ups for aging animals. With an arsenal of treatments available, the aging pet's quality of life can be greatly enhanced by timely veterinary intervention. From diets to medicines to complementary and alternative modalities, the aging pet nowadays has many more options available to it than pets of even 10 or 15 years ago.

The AVMA website says that thousands of veterinarians nationwide have signed up to be active in the campaign, and that staff will be wearing buttons to encourage clients to ask the clinic's personnel about pet wellness plans.

They’ll also offer free checklists…one for dogs, one for cats…to help identify disease risk via questions about behavior, environment, health history, and other factors.

The veterinarian can use the results to assist in developing an individual wellness and vaccination protocol. Additional questions address pet health insurance and provide staff with an opportunity to discuss coverage.

There’s also a roll-out brochure and poster to inform us about wellness examinations, disease prevention, and pet health insurance. Your local clinic may have programs and offers of its own, so whether or not you have an aging pet it may be a good idea to call your vet clinic and see what's cookin'.


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    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hi Bob, do you have a Pinterest account yet? You need to set one up and add each of your hubs (with a photo). You may not get a lot of traffic, but some. I pinned this on my page.

    • Highland Terrier profile image

      Highland Terrier 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Here is the thing, it is a nice idea, 6 monthly check ups but financially it is out the door. I have no idea what vet price are like in America but you would need a awful lot of money over here to do this.

      I used to have pet insurance, but like very thing else in rip off Ireland the price start to soar.

      No professional service here come at a reasonable price, and once the vets copped on that people were becoming better informed about their pets needs the prices hit the roof.

      So now I make sure to know as much as possible about animal health and check the web for info.

      Even getting the animal cremated over here cost hundreds of euro.

      Do you know that this country is the only one where a vet has to microchip your pet, forcing you to pay for vetinary service, where a nurse could easily do it.

      I tell you everything about Ireland is rip off; rip off.

      Found the age info very useful.

      Thank you.

    • Bob Bamberg profile image
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      Bob Bamberg 4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Hi DrMark, no, I don't but that's lesson #2 for when I can get my son over again to show me. I guess there are a couple of other sites that I should be posting on, as well. Thanks for pinning on your page...the concept of which eludes me. It's time for me to spring for a sushi lunch. That will get him over. I don't do sushi. Like one of our more redneck congressmen said, "We've had sushi all along; we just called it bait." Nice to see you...thanks for stopping by. Regards, Bob

      Hi Highland Terrier, thanks for commenting. The semi-annual visits can be looked at two ways. The cynic will say it just increases the revenue stream for the vets, but the pragmatist will consider it an effective early warning device. If you catch something early, it usually costs a lot less to fix it.

      Personally, I think it's a good idea for senior dogs. Since dogs age at an accelerated rate, his health could change significantly in 6 months and deteriorate rapidly over the next 6 months until he's seen again. But, the economics certainly are a consideration.

      Hell, pack your bags and head for America. Knock on the door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and ask if Barack is home. If he is, he'll give you free health care, food stamps, a driver's license, in-state college tuition, free birth control, and he'll sneak you into a voting booth so you can vote for the democrats.

      Don't feel bad because I have to pay for it...I don't. My grandson does, though. With our national debt, he's 3 years old and already over 60 thousand dollars in debt. But that's OK, Barack has been promising good jobs for 4 years and if he ever delivers on that promise, my grandson will be all set. Thanks for letting me rant, glad you stopped by. Regards, Bob

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