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The importance of veterinary recheck exams

A dog being examined by a vet.
A dog being examined by a vet.

All pet owners who take their companions to the vet will at some point encounter the recommended recheck; a recommendation for a recheck exam with either the DVM or technician at a later date, a follow up. Sadly, many folks blow off these recheck exams for one reason or another, be it deemed unnecessary or too costly.

DVMs are not recommending these exams for their own health, but the health of your dog. Recheck exams are the way for your vet to follow up on a problem and make sure the issue is being taken care of. Often times, an issue will appear better but not be entirely gone.

An ear infection for example: say you bring your dog in for gross ears. The ears smell, appear brown and dirty inside, and your dog is scratching and shaking his head. The DVM takes a swab and does a cytology (looks under the microscope to diagnose what organisms can be found) and finds yeast. You get ear wash and an ointment to put in the ears and are asked to return in 2 weeks.

You use the medication and flush as directed and two weeks later they look better than when the doc first saw them. You might assume you don’t need to see the doctor again. Well, that’s a risk you decide to run.

If you do return (hopefully) the doctor may take another swab and recheck to see that the yeast is gone. If it is, great! If not, you may be directed to continue the medication or switch altogether. That’s where the risk comes in if you decide not to return- you think the ears look all better, stop treatment, and go on with life. Maybe 2 months down the road the ears start looking funky again.

You go back in and the doc tells you the yeast must not have all been killed by the initial 14 day treatment. You should’ve gone in for the recheck and used the medication for longer. Now your dog is back to having an ear infection that could’ve been prevented with that recheck exam.

If that happens, you’ve put your dog through needless suffering and are paying for another exam. And of course they’ll want to see you for a recheck this time around. In the long run, you could be costing yourself time, money, and suffering. Is ignoring the recheck really worth the risk?

Only you can decide if the risk is worth it. Most DVMs charge less for a progress exam than a regular one. In summary, save yourself the possible headache (in more ways than one) and follow up with your DVM when recommended!

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