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This Chihuahua is happy too visit her vet

April 30th is World Veterinary Day. Having a great Vet that you trust is one of the most important parts of being a pet parent.  Our fur babies can’t always tell us what they are feeling or what will help them live their longest, happiest and healthy.  The right vet can not only take care of your pups' health, they can also teach you how to keep them healthy and happy in between visits and how to be a better pawrent.

We asked  BOND VET’S Dr. Gabrielle Fadl, DVM'sthe most important questions that will keep your pup their healthiest.

Does my pet really need a yearly exam?

Yes, a yearly exam is best for pets. For some, especially seniors or pets with health problems, a checkup may be recommended more often, such as every six months. 

Dog age vs. human age

Pets age faster than humans, so some diseases may develop more quickly than many pet owners expect. However, dogs and cats can be good at hiding symptoms until a disease has progressed. Yearly exams, especially including wellness screening tests such as bloodwork, can often help catch diseases earlier than if a pet owner had waited until their pet started showing symptoms. Catching diseases earlier often allows for better treatment options.

NOTE: The old adage of “1 dog year = 7 human years” is fun to think about but not really true. Calculating your dog’s age is not an exact science. Many factors come into play including size, weight and breed.

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Pawparent speaking with her Vet

What vaccinations does my pet need?

Specific, individualized vaccination recommendations should be given by a veterinarian who knows your pet and their unique needs. However, as a general rule of thumb, dogs and cats require rabies vaccination. This is a legal requirement in most states and cities, to protect humans from this dangerous disease. Frequency of vaccination varies from 1-3 years for boosters, depending on a pet’s vaccination history and local laws.

In addition to rabies, another “core” vaccination for most pets includes a combination shot covering many common but serious diseases. In dogs, this is the DAPP vaccine, which covers distemper virus, adenovirus, parvovirus, and parainfluenza virus. In cats, it’s the FVRCP vaccine, which covers feline viral rhinotracheitis (feline herpesvirus), calicivirus, and panleukopenia virus.

Other vaccination recommendations may vary by lifestyle and other risk factors. It’s a good idea to talk to your vet to see what will most benefit your pet’s health and give them the immune protection they need. 

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Black and white Boxer dog getting ready for his checkup

Does heartworm / flea / tick prevention need to be given year-round?

Yes. In almost all locations, parasite prevention year round is a good idea. Even in climates with harsh winters, sometimes mosquitoes (which carry and transmit heartworm disease) can survive in indoor environments, which means pets can be at risk of exposure year round. The same is true for many other parasites, including fleas. 

What is the safest and most effective Tick/ Flea prevention?

This can vary depending on local parasite risks and individual health factors of the pet. However, one important consideration is that parasite prevention only works when it’s given consistently and used as directed. Therefore, long-acting preventive products are a good option for pet parents who are busy and may forget to give or apply medication once a month. 

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Fresh and clean pup after the bath

How often should I groom my pet?

This answer is hugely variable depending on the needs of the individual pet. For example, short-haired cats might never need a bath or grooming. Long-haired cats may need occasional grooming to prevent tangles in their fur, and they can benefit from daily brushing. For many short-coated dogs, bathing once every 1-2 months can be a good frequency. Dogs with longer fur may have very specific grooming and hair care/haircut requirements. If you’re not sure, check with a professional pet groomer regarding groomings, and ask your vet any concerns about your pet’s skin or coat.

Is my pet a healthy weight?

Looking at your pet’s body condition can be more helpful than looking at the number on the scale, although monitoring their weight on the scale is also important for noting any changes. A good body condition means that a pet isn’t underweight or overweight. There are charts available online for judging a pet’s body condition score. It involves looking at your pet from above and from the side, and running your hands over their ribs and back.  

You should be able to feel their ribs and spine but not see them from a distance. Too prominent of ribs and spine could mean a pet is underweight. Too much “cushion” in these areas could mean a pet is overweight.

Most dogs and cats also have a bit of a visible “tuck up” in their waist area. This does vary by breed, though. However, in any breed, a very round abdomen that sticks out could mean a pet is overweight.

Your veterinarian can determine if your pet is at their ideal weight and give you advice on how they can safely lose or gain weight, if needed. 

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This cut English Bulldog loves his all natural food

What is the healthiest  type of dog food?

Individual dogs have unique needs, so there’s no single brand that’s right for every dog. An AAFCO statement on the packaging can help identify foods that are nutritionally complete and balanced, meaning it has everything a dog needs including all vitamins and minerals. AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials) isn’t a regulatory body, but rather an organization that helps set standards as to dogs’ nutritional needs and what should be included in dog foods. The food should also be for the right species (dog vs cat) and life stage (puppy vs adult). 

What are the most important things I can do to extend my dog's life

Regular veterinary checkups and health care recommendations are important. But it’s also important to really get to know your pet at home. Knowing what is and isn’t normal for your dog can help you identify a problem and seek care sooner, should a health issue ever arise.

As with human beings, preventing disease can be more efficient than trying to treat diseases later. Not all diseases are preventable, but many are, especially those that are complications of poor diet and lifestyle and obesity. Daily exercise or physical activity, at a level that is safe and enjoyable for your dog, can greatly contribute to their long-term health. Avoiding excess treats, table scraps, and “junk food” in general is a good idea, too. 

boxer dog with toy dog insurance, carrying for dog
If your dog gets scared at the Vet, bring his favorite toy to calm him

How Can I Care for My Pet’s Health in a Financially Smart Way?

We now know how important having a trustworthy Vet is for pet parents, but so is being able to afford regular care and any emergencies that may come up.

Whether you get traditional pet insurance or a pet insurance alternative like Pawp, investing in your furry friend's well being should be the top priority for every pet parent.

Taking your pet to the vet for regular checkups, ensuring that they have all of their vaccines and preventative medications (like flea + tick!), and having a trusted resource to help in times of need will set your four-legged family member up for a long, happy life.

With Pawp, you get an on-demand support system for your pet's wellness. Pet parents not only get unlimited access to licensed vets and nurses available via text or video chat 24/7, but also have a $3,000 emergency fund for when the unexpected happens. Plus, Pawp members get exclusive discounts on over-the-counter and prescription medications.

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Clean bill of health for this Bulldog

Can Pawp help me find a veterinarian?

We get that not everything can be solved from home. If you're looking for in-person care, Pawp's Vet Finder is a comprehensive nationwide directory of veterinarians. Whether you're looking for a local vet for routine visits or an emergency veterinarian for urgent situations, we can help you find the care you need.

How does Pawp differ from traditional pet insurance?

With so many pet insurance options out there, it can be confusing to understand which is best for your pet. 

Pet parents with traditional pet insurance pay a monthly premium and get varying ranges of coverage for the cost of medical procedures, treatments, and medications. Premiums often increase over time, and traditional insurance models don't cover pets with pre-existing conditions—plus, many have breed restrictions. For some, the monthly cost of insurance is not justifiable, especially if their pet is healthy and hasn’t needed unexpected veterinary care. For others, that hefty monthly bill is preferable over an unexpected illness or injury, especially when treatment can be even more costly. 

With Pawp on the other hand, members pay a flat monthly fee to get 24/7 access to online vets and nurses. Whether a pet parent has a question about nutrition or needs a veterinary professional to triage an emergency situation, Pawp's team of experts is there to help. Pawp does not have any breed restrictions and pets with pre-existing conditions are covered. Members also have a $3,000 fund to help cover costs in the event of a qualifying emergency.
And lastly, Pawp members get access to the Pawp Pharmacy, which offers over-the-counter and prescription medications at a discount. 

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Awww, just neutered little pug doesn't like his cone but it's for his own good!

Can I get Pawp for a dog with pre-existing conditions?

Yes! This is what sets us apart from traditional pet insurance, which does not cover pre-existing conditions.

Is Medication covered?

Pawp members get access to the Pawp Pharmacy, which offers vet-approved over-the-counter and prescription medications at a discount. For certain medications and in qualifying states, members can get online prescriptions for pet medications and get them shipped right to their door. They can also fill an existing prescription from a vet at the Pawp Pharmacy for select medications.

golden retriever puppy at vet
Don't forget to get your newborn pup up to date on shots

Do certain breeds have higher monthly costs?

Nope! All Pawp members pay the same monthly fee, regardless of breed. 

What are the most surprising bonuses of having Pawp?

We believe that pets are part of the family. Pawp's holistic approach to pet care gives pet parents peace of mind knowing they have a vet professional ready to answer questions anytime, anywhere. 

We hope this article was helpful and you understand the importance of finding a Vet you trust. And of course, don't forget pet insurance for tour 4-legged family member.

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