Vet dogStatistics point to an interesting trend in pet health care. A recent study, commissioned by Bayer HealthCare LLC, Animal Health Division and conducted by Brakke Consulting in collaboration with the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, indicates that even though the population of pet owners has increased, the number of dogs and cats receiving veterinary care has sharply decreased.

The idea behind an annual checkup is simple: in order to prevent more costly future problems, your dog should visit your vet every year, even if he is healthy. This catches disease at its earliest treatable stage. This seems like good sense and money well spent. We humans after all, visit our doctors annually and that benefits our health, right?

There are many studies that say the contrary. A study by Danish researchers analyzed data from 183,000 people who took part in 14 trials carried out over a number of years. After examining the data, the researchers concluded that the patients who received routine health checks were just as likely to die over a none year period as those who didn’t receive health checks. Moreover, routine health checks seemed to have no effect on hospital admission rates, referrals to specialists or time lost at work. The researchers summarized, “General health checks are unlikely to be beneficial…A physical exam is a pretty meaningless thing to have done.”

In 1979, The Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination recommended against the annual general health check. And in 1989, the United States Preventative Service Task Force issued similar guidelines. Instead, both bodies recommended focused health checks guided by patient specific risk factors.

In the Bayer study, 95 percent of the veterinarians involved strongly suggested that both dogs and cats need at least one veterinary wellness exam annually. If you google ‘annual pet exam’, you’ll see a lot of pages telling you that same thing: annual exams save lives. There might be a reason to visit your vet every year. It can help to establish a good working relationship between you, your dog and your vet. Whether or not it prevents disease in your dog however, seems to be purely speculation.

We can conclude with a great deal of confidence that, if the annual veterinary visit results revaccination and toxic chemicals for heartworms, fleas and intestinal worms, it is certainly not going to benefit the health of your dog.

“If the primary reason for that “postcard” is to come in and get vaccinations, which is primarily what does go on,” says Patricia Jordan DVM. “vaccinations that are unsafe and unnecessary will lead to vaccine induced diseases which vets then treat with drugs for the dysfunctional or dysregulated immune system they made with the unsafe and unnecessary vaccines! The vets make even more disease, giving even more vaccines, and selling even more synthetic chemicals (drugs) and toxic drugs and chemicals for topical application.” In other words, dogs who go to the vets for this type of “routine” care, will find themselves going to the vets more often.

Whether there is value in an annual veterinary visit really depends on the dog and the owner. For some, the money available for veterinary care is a limited pool, and the money used on annual exams might be better spent on better quality food or supplements. Regardless, the value of the annual veterinary exam greatly depends on whether it is used to check in with your vet or simply load up on a year’s supply of vaccines, toxins and pesticides.