By: Guest blogger Dr. Ryan Llera
Each day, I can see between 10-20 animals and their families. My patients range from puppies and kittens, to geriatric pets near the end of their lives, and everything in between. Every day is different and two cases are rarely ever the same. It’s part of why I love this job. With each day comes new surprises, but none more shocking than seeing a senior pet and their family beaming that “they’ve been healthy for so long they’ve never seen a vet” (or not since they were a few weeks old).
One pet in particular was afraid of the vet clinic, starting with just walking in the door, to the scale, to the friendly front desk staff … everything. He was nine years old and hadn’t been examined in eight years. Here I was sitting on the floor with a load of cookies and with a calm demeanor, yet he wouldn’t leave his owner’s side and seemed to be trembling at the thought of being there. While I’m glad these patients have been healthy, I get concerned for what problems may be hiding that could have been helped or prevented with earlier detection. Let alone the anxiety these pets can experience from being in a strange place with many different smells.
As your pet ages, the potential for health problems can increase. Cats are notorious for hiding illnesses for a time. When they do show enough signs that it’s noted, your cat can be quite sick, sometimes to the point of being past help. Dogs are so variable in their breeds that the list of problems can be endless and you may already know what to watch for. Regardless of breed, your veterinarian can help you develop a plan to keep your pet happy and healthy, but only if your pet makes a visit for an annual exam. In fact, the annual exam is more important than vaccines, though vaccines are also crucial. These preventative care steps with younger pets can save you heartache and money in the long run.
How to find the right vet for you
So when should you pick a veterinarian? One idea is to do so even before you get a pet. If you’ve used a vet you like in the past or have good references from friends, then maybe you’re set. But it also wouldn’t hurt to interview a potential veterinarian for your new furry family member. Ask questions particularly if you’re debating what kind of pet to get but also to see if you have the potential for a good working relationship with that veterinarian.
A brief note about exotic or non-traditional pets such as, rabbits, guinea pigs, lizards, turtles, birds, ferrets, etc… It’s important to research proper care before getting one of these unique family members. Many of these small animals’ health problems are related to poor husbandry. As each of these animals is so different, it’s also a good idea to find a vet who knows how to take care of them. They’re not just small dogs or cats!
You owe it to your pet and yourself to find a veterinarian you trust. They are worth an invaluable amount of information and support throughout your pet’s life. It’s their job to help your pet live a healthy life but it’s your job to build that relationship. Together, everyone wins. So what are you waiting for?
Dr. Ryan Llera is a small animal veterinarian living & working in Kingston, Ontario where he has been an associate vet at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic since 2012. He is a 2006 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Though originally from Florida, he married a Canadian (who is also a vet!) and made the trek up north. He & his wife, Jennifer, share their home with 3 cats, 2 dogs, and 2 horses. Find more of Ryan’s blogs at www.drryanllera.com. Or see what else he is up to on Facebook or Twitter @DrRyanLlera or Instagram @drryanllera