When you bring your pet in for checkups, you allow your vets the opportunity to get a complete view of your pet's health and to intervene if there are any concerns. Our vets in Fairhaven share more information about the importance of routine pet checkups and how dog wellness exams can help prevent serious issues.
What is the importance of routine dog wellness exams?
Even if you feel s though your pet is in tip-top shape, you should schedule them in for an annual vet check up. These dog wellness exams help your pup to stay the absolute healthiest possible.
By taking your healthy animal to visit the vet regularly, you allow your veterinarian the opportunity to assess your pet's general health and test for diseases, illnesses, and conditions that can be difficult to identify in their early stages (including cancers and parasites).
Most health conditions that may affect your dog are more likely to respond well to treatment if it begins sooner.
During the checkup, your vet has two goals: to prevent health conditions from developing where possible and to spot early symptoms of the disease so that they can be treated before they develop into more serious problems.
When should you bring your dog or cat in for a pet checkup?
The frequency at which you should bring your pet in for routine dog wellness exams depends on a number of factors including their age, the conditions of their health and if they have any specific veterinary concerns.
If your pet is currently healthy but has experienced health conditions in the past then it may be recommended that they visit with the vet twice yearly for an examination. Your vet will be able to give the final direction on how often they would like to see your pup for a pet checkup.
Since your puppy or kitten's immune system is still developing, young pets can be especially susceptible to many illnesses that adult pets are easily able to overcome. Because of this, it is likely that your vet will recommend monthly visits for young puppies and kittens.
Typically, an adult dog or cat with no history of illness should see us for a vet checkup every year. That said, some pets such as senior dogs and cats, in addition to giant breed dogs, face an increased risk of many conditions and should see a veterinarian more often to monitor for early signs of illness. In these cases, it's a good idea to bring your pet in for twice-yearly cat or dog checkups.
How to Prepare For Vet Wellness Checks
Your vet will need the following basic medical information about your canine or feline companion, especially if this is your pet's first visit. Bring notes on your animals:
- Eating and drinking habits
- Recent travel history
- Current medications (names and doses)
- Past medical records, including vaccine history
- Tick bites
- Food (what kind do they eat)
- Toilet habits
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 vet check up involve?
At each veterinary checkup, you will be asked about your pet's medical history and if you have any concerns. They will also ask about your pet’s diet, exercise routine, thirst level, bowel movements, urination, and other aspects of their lifestyle and general behavior.
Your vet may also have asked for you to bring a fresh fecal sample with you to the appointment so they can perform a fecal examination to check for parasites. A fecal exam offers the best possible method of detecting internal parasites.
Your vet will move along to performing a physical pet checkup at this point. While this will usually cover the following points, the vet may take time to do more depending on your pet’s needs:
- Measuring your pet’s gait, stance, and weight
- Using a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s lungs and heart
- 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
If no issues are detected along the way, your vet can likely run through this list quickly and seamlessly — they may even chat with you as they do so. If an issue is identified, your vet will explain what they have noticed and recommend the next steps or potential treatments.
Annual vaccinations are also administered during a cat or dog checkup, based on your animal’s appropriate schedule.
When will the vet recommend additional diagnostic tests?
Along with the basic check-up exam points we list above, the vet may also recommend additional wellness testing. Remember that 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 a urinalysis may be done, in addition to diagnostic testing such as X-rays and imaging.
What to expect at the end of the dog checkup?
Once your pet has been examined, tested, and given its annual vaccines, your vet will dedicate time to explaining its 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.