Routine exams help to keep pets healthy by providing your vet with an annual or twice-yearly opportunity to examine your pet for early signs of disease and to monitor your dog or cat's overall health. Below, our Seattle vets explain why routine exams are important and what to expect at your pet's vet checkup.
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 an excellent way to help your pet achieve optimal health by focusing on disease prevention and detection. By bringing your healthy dog or cat to the vet on a regular basis, you allow your veterinarian to monitor your pet's overall health and check for diseases that can be difficult to detect in the early stages (such as cancers and parasites).
Treating developing diseases early offers your pet their best chance of good treatment outcomes.
Wellness exams also give your vet the opportunity to provide you with valuable information regarding your dog or cat's diet and exercise routines. Ensuring that your pet maintains a healthy weight and gets plenty of exercise are great ways to help your pet live a long and healthy life. Routine exams give your vet the opportunity to help you help 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
How often your pet should see their veterinarian for wellness exams depends upon your pet's age, previous medical history, lifestyle, and breed risk for developing diseases. If your animal is healthy at the moment but has a history of illness or a higher than average risk of developing a disease, seeing your vet twice a year can help to ensure that your pet stays as healthy as possible.
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 with a high risk of disease, such as a giant breed dog, twice-yearly wellness exams are recommended. This will allow your veterinarian to check your pet for early signs of disease and begin treatment before the condition worsens.
What to Expect At Your Pet's Annual Dog or Cat Exam
When you bring your pet in for a wellness exam, your veterinarian will review your pet's medical history and ask if you have any concerns about your dog or cat's health or behavior. Your veterinarian will also inquire about your pet's diet, lifestyle, exercise regimen, thirst level, and urination.
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 thorough diagnostic testing, such as x-rays and other imaging, may also be advised if your pet is elderly or a giant breed dog. These extra tests, carried out annually, give your veterinarian important knowledge about the health of your pet and the development of any age-related diseases. This preventative approach to veterinary care can aid in your pet's continued good health and comfortable mobility as they 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.
Additionally, they will ensure that your dog or cat feels as little pain or discomfort as possible as a result of any health problems they may be dealing with. A medical condition can be identified and treated more quickly the earlier it is discovered. Good outcomes depend on early treatment.
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.