Pet lovers itching with questions may get them answered Sunday when, for the first time, 25 veterinary practices hold open houses organized by the Long Island Veterinary Medical Association.

The trade group hopes the free event, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the participating practices, will show the public the importance of annual checkups for their furry, feathered family members and let them know what veterinarians have to offer.

Pet owners can get advice on what to feed their pets, explanations on mysterious behavior, and second opinions on care for their sick pets, organizers said.

"The worst time to meet your vet is for an emergency," Dr. Dee Hensen, chairwoman of the open house, said in a statement. "Establishing a relationship with your pet's vet will provide for smoother care when there is an emergency and ensure good preventative planning."

Pet lovers will find out that veterinarians can guide owners on the same sort of issues they bring to their own doctors, from blood tests and CT scams scans to weight management and dental care, which can help prevent serious infections to internal organs.

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It's especially crucial for pets adopted from animal shelters to get follow-up care, said Dr. Keith Niesenbaum, the group's president.

"All too often shelters have little or no medical history on the pets they adopt," he said, "and without follow-up care illness can go undetected and impact the pet's longevity."

A list of participating practices is at livma.org.