During a routine exam, your veterinarian will check your dog or cat for signs of illness, health issues and internal damage that may need addressing. Our Apple Valley veterinary team is here to explain why routine dog and cat veterinary checkups are so important.
Why are routine vet checkups important?
You should book this routine physical exam with your veterinarian once or twice a year, even when your pet appears to be perfectly healthy. These wellness checkups help your pet achieve and maintain their ideal health.
By bringing your otherwise healthy animal to your vet routinely, you will give them a chance to identify potential issues and assess your pet's wellbeing and general health. This also provides your vet with the chance to find a diagnose disease, conditions or disorders that are most responsive to medical intervention.
These conditions benefit from early treatment. During the checkup, your vet has two goals: to prevent health conditions from developing where possible and to spot early symptoms of disease so that they can be treated before they develop into more serious problems.
How often should my pet attend a vet checkup?
Your pet's medical history and age will determine how often your pet should see the veterinarian for a checkup.
If your dog, cat or other pet has a shitory of illness but is currently perfectly healthy, we advise that you book an appointment at your vet's office twice every year or more in order to make sure your companion stays as healthy as possible. Your vet will be able to examine your four-legged family member and let you know how often they should come in for a physical examination.
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. For this reason, your vet might recommend booking a monthly checkup for the first few months.
Typically, an adult dog or cat with no history of illness should see us for a vet checkup on a yearly basis. 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
Your veterinarian will need, at minimum, the following basic information about your cat or dog's generally health and well-being. This goes doubly if this is your pet's first visit. Bring in nots on your animal's:
- 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 checkup for pets involve?
When taking your pet to the veterinarian, they will review your companion's medical history and time will be set aside to address any specific concerns you might have. Your vet will also ask about your pet's diet, habits, exercise routine and more in detail to get a good sense of their lifestyle and normal behavior patterns.
In some instances, you will be asked to collect and bring along a fresh sample of your pet's stool in order to conduct a fecal exam. These exmainations help vets to identify when a range of interninal parasites and present in your pet's body. These parasites may otherwise be quite difficult to detect.
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:
- Measuring your pet’s gait, stance, and weight
- 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
- Using a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s lungs and heart
- Feeling the abdomen to check whether internal organs appear normal, and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
- 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
- Inspecting your cat’s or dog’s skin for numerous issues — from bumps or lumps (especially in folds of skin) to dryness and parasites
- Examining your furry companion’s coat to assess overall condition, as well as look for signs of abnormal hair loss or dandruff
If your vet doesn't detect any issues along the way, your veterinarian will be likely to run through this list quite quickly and seamlessly. They may even be able to maintain a casual conversation with you as they do so. If they are able to identify any potential health issues in your dog or cat as they do this, they will explain to you what they noticed and provide some next steps or possible treatments.
Annual vaccinations are also administered during a cat or dog checkup, based on your animal’s appropriate schedule.
Additional Wellness Testing Recommended for Pets
Alongside a basic checkup listed above, our vets may also recommend addition wellness testing. It's important the remember that in many instances, the early detection and treatmen of disease will be less expensive and invasive that having a condition treated once it has reached a more advanced stage.
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 generally healthy, the discussion you have with your vet may focus on improvements to their dietary routines and exercise regimes and checking to ensure that the essentials like paarsite prevention are properly 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.