Routine visits to the vet help to ensure that your dog or cat remains in tip-top shape throughout their life. Our veterinary team in Cumming offers some helpful information about the purpose of annual wellness exams and what to expect during your pet's checkup.
Why You Should Bring Your Pet to the Vet For a Checkup
Your dog or cat, depending on their age and health circumstances, will need to visit the vet once or twice yearly for an examination. While it may not always make sense why, especially when your furry friend seems to be perfectly healthy, these exams are crucial. Wellness exams are able to help your vet with keeping your pet happy and healthy throughout their lives.
Bringing your pet to the vet allows for the administering of vaccinations and parasite prevention as well as the opportunity to recognize issues at the earliest stages.
The earlier the intervention and treatment of various illnesses and conditions, the better the outcome will be. During your pet's checkup with your vet, they have two major goals: to prevent health conditions from developing in the first place and to spot symptoms of health issues as early as possible in order to treat them before they develop into more serious problems.
How often do dogs and cats need checkups?
Your vet will recommend a wellness exam schedule for your dog or cat, depending on a number of factors. These factors can include their age, breed and whether or not they suffer from any health conditions.
If your companion has a history of medical issues but is currently perfectly healthy, we advise that you book a routine checkup with your vet at least twice each year to make sure your pet stays as healthy as possible. Speak with your vet to learn more about how often your dog or cat should visit and what to expect during the appointment.
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, puppies and kittens should visit the vet once a month for the first year of their life.
Healthy adult dogs and cats can manage with a check-up once each 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.
What should you do to prepare for your pet's veterinary checkup?
There are a few ways that you can prepare for your pet's annual examination to help make it go smoothly. This includes notes about:
- Tick bites
- Eating and drinking habits
- Recent travel history
- Toilet habits
- Food (what kind do they eat)
- Current medications (names and doses)
- Past medical records, including vaccine history
You will want to ensure that your pet is restrained during their visit, either on a leash or in a carrier. You may also choose to bring their favorite toy or blanket to help them stay calm.
What is the process for an annual cat or dog wellness exam?
When you see the vet, you will be able to share any concerns that you have and the vet will ask you any questions they may have about your pet's medical history and recent behavior. You can also use this time to ask any questions that you have. They will also inquire about your pet's diet, their exercise routine, their thirst levels and their bowel movements. Your vet wants to get as much information as they can about your pet's general well-being and behaviors.
The vet may request that you bring a fresh stool sample with you to the appointment. These exams help to identify whether any number of problematic intestinal parasites are present. Parasites are notoriously difficult to detect and the diagnostic tools at the clinic will be very useful in determining the presence of these pests.
Your vet will then perform a complete examination of your dog or cat. 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
- Checking your pet’s nails and feet for signs of significant health concerns or damage
- Using a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s lungs and heart
- Examining your pet’s ears for signs of wax buildup, polyps, ear mites or bacterial infection
- Feeling the abdomen to check whether internal organs appear normal, and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
- Examining your furry companion’s coat to assess overall condition, as well as look for signs of abnormal hair loss or dandruff
- Check 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
- Inspecting the condition of the teeth for any indications of decay, damage or periodontal disease
- Inspecting your cat’s or dog’s skin for numerous issues — from bumps or lumps (especially in folds of skin) to dryness and parasites
- Looking into the eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, cloudiness or redness. Will also look for issues with eyelids
If your pet is healthy this exam will likely be done fairly quickly. If your vet discovers any concerns, they will explain what they notice and recommend what next steps should be taken.
Annual vaccinations are also administered during a cat or dog checkup, based on your animal’s appropriate schedule.
What diagnostics will the vet perform during my cat or dog's checkup?
Bloodwork is a commonly performed diagnostic that your vet may request during your dog or cat's checkup. 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 urinalysis may be done, in addition to diagnostic testing such as X-rays and imaging.
The Importance of Dog and Cat Checkups
Your vet will use the end of your pet's visit to explain anything concerns they may have found during the checkup and what steps you should take moving forward.
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.