Regular check-ups for your pet are important. They let your vet check your furry friend each year for any early signs of illness and keep an eye on their overall health. In this article, our vets in Little Elm will tell you what to expect during a route check-up for your dog or cat.
My pet is healthy, why bother going to the vet?
Your pet's yearly wellness check is like a doctor's visit for your cat or dog. It happens once or twice a year, even when your pet seems fine. These examinations 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).
How often should my pet have a routine wellness exam?
How often your pet should have wellness check-ups depends on their age, health history, lifestyle, and breed. If your pet has a history of health issues or is at higher risk for disease, seeing the vet twice a year is a good idea, even if they seem healthy right now.
For healthy adult pets, once-a-year check-ups are usually enough.
Animals that are very young or very old tend to be more susceptible to illness. If you have a new puppy or kitten, visiting your vet once a month for the first 4 - 6 months can be a good idea.
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 will happen at my pet's routine wellness exam?
When you take your pet for a check-up, your vet will look at their medical history and ask if you have any concerns about your pet's health or behavior. They'll also ask about your pet's diet, lifestyle, exercise habits, and how much they eat and drink.
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.
After that, your vet will give your pet a physical exam, which usually includes.
- 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 assess 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 easily if no issues are detected along the way. No doubt your vet will continue to chat with you as they perform this comprehensive examination.
Annual vaccines will also be given at your pet's wellness exam based on 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.
Why is my vet recommending extra tests for my pet?
Apart from the usual check-ups we talked about earlier, your vet may recommend extra health tests for your dog or cat. 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.
These tests can detect different health issues and identify them before they show any noticeable symptoms:
- Complete blood count (CDC)
- Thyroid hormone testing
If you have a senior pet or a giant breed dog, more detailed diagnostic testing may also be recommended, including x-rays and other imaging.
What happens once the examination is complete?
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 healthy, your vet might give you advice on their food, exercise, dental care, or how to prevent parasites.
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.