2011 AAHA/AVMA Preventive Healthcare Guidelines

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Paws for Prevention: Lifelong Care with the AAHA/AVMA Preventive Healthcare Guidelines

The AAHA/AVMA Preventive Healthcare Guidelines provide veterinary professionals with a roadmap for preventive care that encompasses physical examinations, vaccinations, parasite control, nutritional guidance, dental care, behavioral health, diagnostic testing, and client education. With a focus on individualized care plans, early detection, and client engagement, these guidelines serve as a foundation for veterinary practices to develop their own preventive healthcare programs. These guidelines outline the following key principles for proactive healthcare in pets:

Regular Assessments

  • Advocates for regular and thorough physical examinations as a cornerstone of preventive care.
  • Encourages early detection of potential health issues through routine exams.
  • Emphasizes the role of balanced nutrition in overall health and disease prevention.
  • Recommends regular assessment of body condition and weight management strategies.


  • Provides guidelines for core and non-core vaccinations based on the pet’s species, age, lifestyle, and risk factors.

Parasite Control

  • Highlights the significance of year-round parasite prevention, including internal and external parasites.
  • Recommends routine fecal examinations and tailored parasite control measures.

Dental Care

  • Advocates for dental health as an integral part of preventive care.
  • Recommends regular dental exams, cleanings, and client education on home dental care.

Behavioral Health

  • Recognizes the impact of behavioral health on overall well-being.
  • Encourages preventive strategies and early intervention for behavioral issues.

Diagnostic Testing

  • Recommends age-appropriate diagnostic testing to detect underlying health conditions.
  • Emphasizes the role of baseline testing for early disease detection.

Client Education

  • Promotes open communication with pet owners about preventive care measures.
  • Encourages client engagement in their pet’s healthcare and education on preventive practices.

These guidelines aim to empower veterinary professionals to deliver comprehensive preventive healthcare by fostering the health and wellbeing of companion animals throughout their lives and solidifying trust with pet owners. Through effective client education, early disease detection, and a dedication to individualized care, these guidelines contribute to the longevity of pets and the happiness of the families who care for them.

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