Leading Off: Don't just hunt zebras: The new preventive healthcare guidelines

Feb 01, 2012

Michael R. Moyer
In September of last year, the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association published the first Canine and Feline Preventive Healthcare Guidelines (available at http://aahanet.org/Library/PreventiveHealthcare.aspx). Some practitioners may wonder why guidelines were developed for preventive care visits—I mean, isn't that a pretty straightforward appointment as compared with a complex medical case? As is turns out, it might not be as straightforward as it appears.


Last week, two different veterinary students—one who was the owner of one of our patients, another who was the student clinician—described their respective visits to me as "just here for a rabies shot." While each pet was, indeed, in need of rabies vaccination, we introduced the Canine and Feline Preventive Healthcare Guidelines and proceeded to go through the appointment in the context of a comprehensive health exam.

In one case, we ended up in a prolonged discussion about cat weight management (two cats in the apartment—one with a body condition score of 8/9, the other a 5/9). This discussion was exactly like the discussions you have with your clients every day in practice. While it may not, on the surface, seem as medically intriguing as successfully managing diabetic ketoacidosis, it is profoundly cat life-changing if you can negotiate fewer calories for overwieght cats (and, in particular, for the right cats in those multicat households).

And the other "just a shot" canine visit ended in a discussion about fecal parasites and urban dog parks, the need for frequent fecal parasite exams here in Philadelphia, and appropriate preventatives to consider.

So by my reckoning, my student clinicians prevented, in two appointments, diabetes in a cat and a trip to the ER for Trichuris-induced hematochezia. If not absolutely, then at least hypothetically.