In my recent dental elective course, I learned that dental disease is actually the most common disease in dogs and cats and that about 85% of dogs over 3 years of age have dental disease. However, dental diseases are often overlooked. I still remember when my brother took his daughter to the dentist for dental caries, my brother was scolded by the dentist because he mentioned that dental caries did not matter as her permanent teeth had not erupted yet. He wasn’t aware that dental disease was already causing oral pain, which affected her ability to eat and lead to a sub-optimal body condition of his daughter.
During my clinical rotations, other than dental disease, I’ve seen cases of severe heartworm infection causing heart failure, puppies with parvovirus infections, and kittens with feline distemper, all of which could be prevented by routine deworming or vaccination. Prevention is the best medicine in many respects. When disease develops and progresses, it may cost more money to treat. Surgical or medical treatment for heartworm infection in dogs is expensive. In addition, for some of the preventable diseases, treatment may not necessarily lead to a cure. Diseases may have been bothering the animal for a long time before clinical signs are noticed. At that point the pet may be older and treatment may pose a higher risk.
In my opinion, prevention is an integral part of both human and veterinary medicine. Also, client education is paramount in achieving adequate preventative care for our animals. Clients are the ones who know them the best, give them routine preventive medications and bring them for medical care if things go wrong.