The Importance of Routine Exams
Your pet's annual wellness exam is a veterinary 'check-up' for your furry friend. These dog checkups or cat checkups take place once or twice a year while your pet appears to be perfectly healthy.
Routine exams are a great way to help your pet achieve optimal health by focusing on prevention and early disease detection. By taking your healthy dog or cat in to see their vet regularly, you give your veterinarian the opportunity to monitor your pet's overall health and check for diseases that can be difficult to spot in the early stages (such as cancers and parasites).
Treating developing diseases early offers your pet their best chance of good treatment outcomes.
Additionally, wellness exams give your veterinarian the chance to educate you on the diet and exercise regimen for your dog or cat. To help your pet live a long and healthy life, make sure that they maintain a healthy weight and get lots of exercise. Regular checkups give your veterinarian the chance to assist you in helping your animal.
At Sharon Lakes Animal Hospital we firmly believe that prevention is far better than treatment when it comes to your animal's health, so while you are at our office for your pet's exam we will ensure that your dog or cat's vaccines are up-to-date and that you know about the parasite prevention products that can best help your pet to stay healthy.
Scheduling Your Pet's Routine Wellness Exam
The age, previous medical history, lifestyle, and breed risk for disease development all play a role in how frequently your pet should have wellness exams with a veterinarian. Visiting your veterinarian twice a year can help to ensure that your pet stays as healthy as possible if it is currently healthy but has a history of illness or is at a higher than average risk of contracting a disease.
For adult pets in good health an annual cat or dog exam is recommended.
Animals that are very young or very old tend to be more susceptible to illness. If you have a new puppy or kitten it can be a good idea to visit your vet once a month for the first 4 - 6 months.
If you have a senior pet, or an animal such as a giant breed dog that faces an increased risk of developing disease, twice-yearly wellness exams are recommended. This will give your veterinarian an opportunity to check your pet for the earliest signs of disease, and get treatment started before the condition becomes more severe.
What to Expect At Your Pet's Annual Dog or Cat Exam
In addition to reviewing your pet's medical history when you bring your pet in for a wellness examination, your veterinarian will also inquire about any health or behavioral issues that you may have with your dog or cat. The diet, way of life, exercise regimen, level of thirst, and frequency of urination will all be questions your veterinarian will ask you.
Many veterinarians request that pet owners bring along a fresh sample of their pet's stool (bowel movement) in order for a fecal exam to be performed. Fecals are a valuable tool when it comes to detecting intestinal parasites that can severely impact your pet's health.
Next, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your pet which generally includes the following:
- Weighing your pet
- Checking the animal's stance and gait for irregularities
- Examining your pet's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
- Listening to your animal's heart and lungs
- Taking a close look at your dog or cat's skin for issues such as dryness, parasites, or lumps
- Inspecting the overall condition of your pet's coat, watching for dandruff or bald patches
- Checking eyes for redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- Examining your pet's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Looking at your pet's teeth for any indication of periodontal disease, damage or tooth decay
- Feeling along your pet's body (palpating) for signs of illness such as swelling, evidence of lameness such as limited range of motion, and signs of pain
- Palpate your pet's abdomen to access whether the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
All of these checks and more can be done quickly and seamlessly provided that no issues are detected along the way.
Annual vaccines will also be given at your pet's wellness exam, based upon the appropriate schedule for your cat or dog. Vaccinations for puppies and kittens, as well as booster shots for adult dogs and cats, are an important part of giving your animal their very best chance at a long and happy life. Keeping your pet up to date on vaccines throughout their life will help to protect your furry friend against a range of contagious, potentially serious, diseases and conditions.
Additional Wellness Testing Recommended for Some Pets
As well as the general checks listed above, your vet may also recommend additional wellness testing. When deciding whether your dog or cat should have additional testing it's important to keep in mind that in many cases early detection and treatment of disease is less expensive and less invasive than treating the condition once it has reached more advanced stages.
The following tests screen for a range of conditions and can help detect the very earliest signs of disease, even before symptoms appear:
- Complete blood count (CDC)
- Thyroid hormone testing
More detailed diagnostic testing, such as x-rays and other imaging, may be recommended if you have a senior pet or a giant breed dog. These extra tests, performed once a year, provide your veterinarian with important information about your pet's health and the progression of any age-related diseases. This proactive approach to veterinary care can assist your pet in remaining mobile and healthy into old age.
At The End of Your Pet's Routine Wellness Exam
Once the examination is complete, and your pet has received their annual vaccines, your vet will take the time to discuss any findings with you.
If your veterinarian has detected any signs of illness or injury, they will take the time to speak to you about more detailed diagnostics, or available treatment options.
If your dog or cat is given a clean bill of health, your vet may offer tips or recommendations regarding your pet's diet and exercise routines, oral health, or appropriate parasite prevention.
Weighing Up the Cost
If you still believe that taking your pet to the vet when they are healthy is too expensive keep in mind that compared to treating advanced conditions, regularly scheduled wellness exams could save you lots of money.
Not only that, but they will ensure that your dog or cat suffers as little discomfort or pain as possible as a result of any health issues they may be experiencing. The sooner a medical problem is identified, the sooner it can be diagnosed and treated. Early treatment is essential for positive outcomes.
Making routine wellness exams a win-win for you and your beloved pet.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.