National Pet Week has been celebrated during the first week of May for over 35 years. It was created to encourage responsible pet ownership, celebrate the human-animal bond, and increase public awareness of veterinary medicine. In the spirit of this celebratory week, let’s talk about some of the important conversations you should be having with your veterinarian. Open communication with your vet is essential for both of you to provide the best care possible for your pet, and veterinarians are a wealth of information that behooves any pet owner to take advantage of. Some of the important and informative chats you should think about having the next time you see your veterinarian are:

Vaccinations
Vaccinations are essential to your pet’s health. They provide immunity against or lessen the severity of, certain diseases. There are core vaccines recommended for all pets based on species, and other vaccines that may be recommended by your vet based on your pet’s lifestyle. Most localities require pets to have certain vaccinations by law. Speaking with your vet about what vaccines your pet should have is an important aspect of your pet’s preventive health care plan.

Parasite Prevention
Parasite prevention is another important aspect of preventive health care. Giving your pet a regular preventive against heartworm, fleas, ticks, and other internal parasites are infinitely easier than treating your pet afterward. Your veterinarian will recommend preventives based on your pet’s lifestyle.

Behavior and socialization training
Talk to your vet about behavior training and socialization for your pet. Behavior problems are a big reason people give up their pets, so starting off on the right foot with training and socialization will set both of you up for success. Your vet will be able to evaluate your pet’s behavior and provide advice on training and socialization.

Nutrition
Different species have different dietary needs, which also change as they progress through life stages. A puppy’s needs will be different than those of a senior dog, just as a cat’s needs are different from a dog’s. Your veterinarian will be able to provide guidance on how to provide your pet with the optimal nutrition to meet their individual needs.

Dental care
Dental care is an important part of your pet’s overall health care that can be easily overlooked. Dental problems can cause, and be caused by, other health issues. Talk to your vet about how to keep your pet’s mouth healthy, and the signs and symptoms of problems to watch for, to help you provide more holistic care for your pet.

Emergency care
Talk to your vet about who to call, and where to go, if you ever encounter an emergency with your pet. It is much better to know where to go to get immediate care after hours than to waste time and panic during an emergency.

So the next time you have an appointment with your vet, have a chat if you haven’t already. One day you may be glad you did. As they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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