Routine exams are important because your vet checks for early symptoms of illness, internal damage and other serious conditions. In this article, our Lakewood vets explain why regular veterinary checkups are essential.
Why are Routine Vet Checkups Important?
Pet owners should arrange a routine physical exam with their veterinarian once or twice a year. Even when your pet appears to be perfectly healthy, these exams are beneficial. Wellness checkups help your pet maintain its health and prevent health issues.
Regular visits to the veterinarian with your healthy animal provide valuable opportunities for the vet to evaluate your pet's overall well-being, conduct tests for diseases, illnesses, and conditions that are often challenging to detect in their initial phases (such as cancers and parasites).
Early treatment is particularly beneficial for these conditions. When you bring your pet for a checkup, the veterinarian has two primary objectives: to proactively prevent the development of health conditions whenever possible and to promptly identify early signs of disease, enabling timely treatment before they escalate into more severe issues.
How Often Should My Pet Attend a Vet Checkup?
If your pet has a previous record of illnesses but is presently in good health, it is recommended to schedule checkups at least twice a year or more. This regularity ensures that your pet maintains optimal health, as the veterinarian can conduct thorough examinations and advise on the appropriate frequency of visits.
Young animals, such as puppies or kittens, have developing immune systems and are more susceptible to various illnesses compared to adult pets. In such cases, your vet might suggest monthly checkups during the initial months to closely monitor their health and provide necessary care.
Typically, adult dogs or cats with no history of illness should have an annual vet checkup. However, certain pets, including senior dogs, senior cats, and giant breed dogs, face higher risks of developing various conditions. To effectively monitor for early signs of illness in these cases, it is advisable to schedule checkups twice a year.
By considering your pet's medical history, age, and specific risk factors, you can work with your veterinarian to determine the ideal frequency of checkups, ensuring the well-being and early detection of any potential health issues.
How to Prepare for a Dog Checkup
Your vet will need the following basic medical information about your canine or feline companion, especially if this is your pet's first visit:
- Current medications (names and doses)
- Past medical records, including vaccine history
- Tick bites
- Food (what kind do they eat)
- Toilet habits
- Eating and drinking habits
- Recent travel history
You may also want to bring a favorite blanket or toys for comfort. While dogs should be on a leash, cats should be in a carrier.
What Does a Checkup for Pets Involve?
During your visit to the veterinarian, your pet's medical history will be assessed, and you will have the opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have. The vet will inquire about your pet's diet, exercise regimen, water intake, bowel movements, urination patterns, and overall behavior.
In certain instances, you may be requested to provide a fresh sample of your pet's feces for a fecal exam. This examination plays a crucial role in identifying the presence of intestinal parasites that may be otherwise challenging to detect. By analyzing the sample, the veterinarian can determine if any problematic parasites are affecting your pet's health.
Next, the vet will physically examine your pet. While this will usually cover the following points, the vet may take time to do more depending on your pet’s needs:
- Looking into the eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, cloudiness or redness. Will also look for issues with eyelids
- Checking for any signs of illness by feeling along your pet’s body (palpating). These symptoms include lameness or limited range of motion, or signs of swelling or pain
- Feeling the abdomen to check whether internal organs appear normal, and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
- Checking your pet’s nails and feet for signs of significant health concerns or damage
- Examining your pet’s ears for signs of wax buildup, polyps, ear mites or bacterial infection
- Inspecting the condition of the teeth for any indications of decay, damage or periodontal disease
- Examining your furry companion’s coat to assess overall condition, as well as look for signs of abnormal hair loss or dandruff
- Inspecting your cat’s or dog’s skin for numerous issues — from bumps or lumps (especially in folds of skin) to dryness and parasites
- Measuring your pet’s gait, stance, and weight
- Using a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s lungs and heart
If an issue is identified, your vet will explain what they have noticed and recommend next steps or potential treatments. Annual vaccinations can be administered during a cat or dog checkup, based on your animal’s needs.
Additional Wellness Testing Recommended for Pets
Vets may also recommend wellness testing. In many cases, early detection and treatment of disease is less expensive and less invasive than having the condition treated once it has become more advanced.
Tests for blood count, thyroid hormone testing and urinalysis may be done, in addition to diagnostic testing such as X-rays and imaging.
Ending the Vet Checkup
Once your pet has been examined, tested and given their annual vaccines, your vet will dedicate time to explaining their findings to you.
If the veterinarian has found any signs of injury or illness, they will recommend more detailed diagnostics or potential treatment options to help.
If your pet is healthy overall, this discussion may focus on improvements to exercise and diet routines, caring for your pet’s oral health and checking that essentials such as appropriate parasite prevention are monitored.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.