I write regarding the column published Dec. 9: Evaluating Annual Vet Visits.
Canine Connection columnist Joan Klucha has every right to determine the level of professional veterinary health care she provides to her own dogs, but her suggestion that pet owners should forego an annual health checkup for their pets is irresponsible.
An annual wellness exam, which may or may not include vaccinations depending on the age, lifestyle and risk factors of the individual animal, is the basis for good preventive care for a family pet. An annual checkup allows your veterinarian to determine health benchmarks for your animal and to detect and manage illnesses such as arthritis, dental disease, diabetes, heart problems and kidney failure which may develop as your pet ages. It also gives owners an opportunity to discuss topics such as behaviour, nutrition, parasite control and general care for the pet.
Ms. Klucha also has the right to choose not to regularly vaccinate her dogs. However, unvaccinated dogs are at risk of contracting serious but preventable diseases and are a threat to the canine community at large as they can be a source of infection to other animals, particularly young puppies. We recommend that pet owners who would like to learn more about pet health issues visit the animal owner section of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association website (canadianveterinarians.net) where they will find a wealth of useful information including a very good article, Vaccinations and Your Dog, in the dog section.
Dr. Marco Veenis, president CVMA-Society of B.C. Veterinarians Chapter
(Editor's note: Joan Klucha did not advocate that all dog owners should forego annual health checkups for their pets. See the column in question at nsnews.com.)