In September 2011, the AAHA and AVMA jointly introduced the first “Canine and Feline Preventive Healthcare Guidelines,” giving veterinarians a valuable tool to increase focus on the value and scope of regular pet examinations.
Published as single-page documents, the Guidelines are streamlined yet complete recommendations for canine and feline preventive healthcare. Inclusive content in a concise format maximizes their practical value and makes it easy to put them into practice.
It is important to elevate the focus on preventive care due to the increase in the prevalence of some common preventable canine and feline diseases such as diabetes, dental disease, parasitism, and otitis externa (inflammation of outer ear and ear canal). These diseases may be attributed to declining visits to veterinarians over the past decade.
Research shows that visits to the veterinarian are declining for a variety of reasons. Pet owners are increasingly practicing self-help pet care or avoiding care altogether. With the widespread information available on the internet, more pet owners are turning to their computers before consulting their veterinarians. For cat owners in particular, the transportation of their pets to and from the veterinarian is an obstacle to care. Most importantly, however, many pet owners do not understand the need for routine canine and feline examinations.
That’s where the AAHA-AVMA Preventive Healthcare Guidelines come in. By validating and broadcasting the importance of routine pet visits, the Guidelines make it easier for veterinarians to practice preventive care and for pet owners to understand the reasons why regular checkups are essential to their companions’ well being.
The Guidelines were created by the AAHA-AVMA Preventive Healthcare Guidelines Task Force. The Task Force first analyzed the broad range of existing pet healthcare recommendations, then identified key consensus points among all the recommendations. Finally, individual guideline points were distilled into their most practical form to create one-page canine and feline documents.
Based on the subjective-objective-assessment-plan (SOAP) methodology, the Guidelines feature a comprehensive approach to deliver optimal canine and feline care in the areas of vaccinations, care during life stages, nutrition, dental care, heartworm and parasite control, and pain management. The Guidelines emphasize that early diagnosis and treatment, made possible by regular exams, can greatly slow the progress of certain diseases.