SCHAUMBURG, Ill. and OVERLAND PARK, Kan., Sept. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Sassy, a long haired calico cat, got the right start in life. Adopted as a kitten, her caring new owners started Sassy early on a lifetime of semi-annual wellness exams from their veterinarian. Her routine wellness exams dealt with the most important health screenings for cats -- immunizations, heartworm and other parasite checks, dental health and laboratory evaluations. During one such exam when Sassy was fourteen, her veterinarian, Dr. Lynn Fremin Buzhardt, detected a heart murmur. "Sassy continued to do well as we monitored her heart condition twice a year," said Dr. Buzhardt, co-owner of The Animal Center, Inc. in Zachary, LA. Then, at sixteen, Sassy was diagnosed with kidney disease and hypertension. Now seventeen, she's receiving home therapy for declining kidney function "but otherwise is doing well for a patient her age," says Dr. Buzhardt. "After all, today, Sassy's age is equivalent to 84 human years." Dr. Buzhardt credits a lifetime of twice-a-year wellness exams with helping cats like Sassy live to become senior citizens. "Her owners understand the importance of twice-a-year wellness exams for early disease detection and prevention," said Dr. Buzhardt. Dr. Buzhardt, who recommends twice-a-year wellness exams for all of her patients, says it's never too late to get a pet started with routine wellness exams. "Because pets age seven times faster, on average, than people, major health changes can occur in a short amount of time," said Dr. Buzhardt. "That's why a wellness exam every six months is so important." To help all of her clients learn more about the pet aging process and the health benefits of twice-a-year wellness exams, Dr. Buzhardt's clinic participates in National Pet Wellness Month, a nationwide educational campaign sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Fort Dodge Animal Health. "Communicating with clients about how to keep their pets healthy is a top priority for our clinic staff," said Dr. Buzhardt. "The National Pet Wellness Month campaign helps us facilitate client communications by providing a wide variety of useful educational materials and encouraging pet owners to ask veterinarians about pet wellness exams." October marks the start of the second year of the National Pet Wellness Month campaign. New for this fall are educational materials emphasizing feline health issues. According to the AVMA, cats are brought to the veterinarian only about half as often as dogs. "Cats can hide illness better than dogs and many times owners may not realize there is a problem," said Dr. Marty Becker, contributing veterinarian for Good Morning America and veterinary/pet columnist for Knight Ridder/Tribune. He advises cat owners to take their pets to the veterinarian every six months for a wellness exam and pay close attention to changes in weight, food and water consumption, elimination, grooming and other behaviors. "The ability of a cat owner to perceive and respond to subtle changes in a pet's behavior can make a big difference in the life and health of a cat," said Dr. Becker. Dr. Becker, who serves as consumer spokesperson for National Pet Wellness Month, says twice yearly wellness exams are important for all cats and dogs because they help the veterinarian detect, treat and, ideally, prevent problems before they become life threatening. During National Pet Wellness Month and continuing throughout the year, pet owners can obtain important pet aging and wellness exam information, tailored specifically to their pets, at their local veterinary clinics. "A pet owner's best source for wellness exam information is their personal veterinarian," said Dr. Becker. The National Pet Wellness Month campaign theme, "Twice A Year For Life!" reminds consumers about the importance of semi-annual wellness exams for all cats and dogs. For information about pet wellness and National Pet Wellness Month visit http://www.NPWM.com. About the American Veterinary Medical Association The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), founded in 1863, is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. More than 71,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of professional activities. AVMA members are dedicated to advancing the science and art of veterinary medicine including its relationship to public health and agriculture. Visit the AVMA Web site at http://www.avma.org to learn more about veterinary medicine, animal care and access up-to-date information on the association's issues, policies and activities. About Fort Dodge Animal Health Fort Dodge Animal Health, a division of Wyeth (NYSE: WYE), is a leading manufacturer and distributor of animal health care products for the companion animal, equine, livestock, swine and poultry industries in North America and international markets. As a committed partner to veterinary practitioners, producers and pet owners worldwide, Fort Dodge Animal Health is making a difference in the future of animal health through innovative research and product development that addresses current and emerging animal health needs. Key products include West Nile-Innovator(R) and the Innovator(R) combination vaccines, Duramune(R) Adult, the Fel-O-Vax(R) vaccine line, CYDECTIN(R) Pour- on, the Pyramid(R) vaccine line, QUEST(R) Gel and EtoGesic(R) Tablets.
SOURCE Fort Dodge Animal Health