Dr. Douglas Aspros, president of the AVMA, said pet owners love to show their pets affection by showering them with toys, fancy collars and even clothes -- spending $5 billion on holiday gifts for pets during last year's holiday season -- but regular veterinary medical checkups can detect disease early and keep a pet healthy and happy for many years.
"Regular veterinary visits are important because many times pets will hide symptoms of illness, so you need your veterinarian's skill and expertise to keep your pets healthy," Aspros said in a statement.
"Providing pets with regular preventive care is the key to a healthy and long life for your pet, and it can save you hundreds -- or even thousands -- of dollars by preventing or identifying problems earlier, when they may be easier to treat and less expensive to solve."
Nearly 90 percent of dog owners and 75 percent of cat owners indicated in a survey by the AVMA last year routine checkups and preventive care were either very or somewhat important. However, the same study said from 2006-11, the number households not visiting the veterinarian increased by 8 percent for dog owners and 24 percent for cat owners.