I see a lot of patients who only come in for vaccines. Some dogs only get Rabies and Distemper Vaccines and not Lyme, Lepto, Bordatella and Flu which are also recommended dependent on the pet's lifestyle. Or people who only bring their cats in for Rabies vaccines every 3 years. Sometimes these people think the only thing veterinarians are for is for vaccinating their pet and euthanasia at the end of their life. They really don't understand that just like regular tune-ups for your car, or taking good care of your own health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I have seen patients that come in to get vaccines, but I end up diagnosing serious illness, such as cancer or an immune mediated disease that the owner had no idea about. When we diagnose these diseases BEFORE they have to go to the Emergency Room, we could help them save thousands of dollars, or give the pets extra time with their owners instead of "suddenly" dying at home.
Every exam I go into, I go into with an open mind. I do not vaccinate until I examine the eyes, ears, joints, abdomen, heart and lungs. I sometimes will go into an exam for vaccines and inform an owner that their dog is blind, has a serious ear infection or could benefit from a change in diet or an over the counter medication for allergies or another disorder the owner wasn't even aware of. If we diagnose these problems early, it can not only improve the pet's quality of life, but also the owners pocketbook.
If 1 year of a dogs life is equivalent to about 3 years of a humans, it's not unreasonable as they get older, that we perform exams and bloodwork annually or semi-annually. One of the things I appreciate about being a veterinarian is it is not cookie-cutter. I could go in to vaccinate a dog and instead end up having a wide variety of conversations, putting on my oncologist, dermatologist or cardiologist hat and changing from a general practitioner who vaccinates to a diagnostician that investigates. In some ways I can be like a detective, telling people things about their dogs they weren't aware of: Do I see salivary stains on the paws? - Allergies; Do I see areas where the dog or cat is over-grooming or does their dog have a low heart rate and it's just because their athletic? Sometimes people are astonished at how much I can tell them about THEIR lifestyle from their dog. Does food = love in their household? - That's always a fun conversation. Between nutrition advice to behavioral to tricks to keeping your cat from waking you up in the middle night, I can share a wealth of knowledge with you. Sometimes people just want vaccines, but they don't know what they might be missing out on.