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Between Annual Veterinary Visits     

 Dr. Al Townshend

The veterinarian is a trusted advocate for the health and well-being of every pet. They have the training, knowledge, expertise, and tools to examine an animal on the outside and the inside. They recommend vaccination schedules, check for parasites, and draw blood to ensure all organs and bodily functions are working efficiently to prevent problems. Examinations are focused on assuring the pet’s health and catching subtle changes before they become a problem.

Most pets are taken to the veterinarian once a year for their annual check-up. As pets age, twice a year visits are recommended. It is important for Guardians to understand that the veterinarian’s examination and workup is a look at what’s going on in that moment in time, on just one day in the year. So, who is the advocate for the pet the other 364 days of the year?

Every Guardian is an Advocate

Guardianship is a commitment to the cherished family pet’s health, happiness, and well-being. The time we spend with our canine and feline companions is a positive part of the day. It is also a good time to closely observe the pet’s actions, their mood and physically perform a hands-on check of the pet. 

These at-home checks don’t have to be done every day, and they don’t have to be completed all at once. Most observations and hands-on exams can be done during the everyday interactions with the pet. When a change or a specific issue is noted, it is important to take a closer look.

Coming Home

Coming home is always a happy time for both the Guardian and pet. Anything out of the ordinary, such as a limp or changes in the pet’s mood or personality, is easily noted.


Daily walks and play time can reveal changes that would require a closer look. They are ideal times to observe the pet’s poop for changes that may signal the beginning of a problem. Straining to urinate can be detected. Any reluctance to play or walk the normal distance could suggest a problem.


Dinner time is also an excellent time to note any changes in the pet. Most pets are excited at mealtime. A decrease in interest or not eating all of a meal can signal a problem that might require further investigation.

Difficulties chewing or swallowing are best observed at mealtime and suggest a closer look in the mouth for dental or gum issues.


Cuddle time on the couch or in a chair is a great time to check the hair-coat or nails to see if grooming is necessary. It is an ideal time to raise the lip and inspect the teeth and gums or look in the ears. It’s an excellent time to run the fingers through the hair to check for signs of lice, flea, or tick problems. 


Bedtime is another opportunity to observe more closely the pet’s actions and do a hands-on review of the parts of the body.

Taking advantage of the time spent with a pet to more closely observe the pet doesn’t take away from the pleasure, and it is critical to catch subtle changes that may signal the beginning of a problem. 

Once a concern is noted, it is essential to look more closely and determine the extent of the problem and if it can be corrected at home or require a quick visit to the veterinarian or groomer. Either way, early detection assures the best chance of a quick resolution.

The Guardian is the 24/7 advocate for the health and welfare of their pets.

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