Routine pet exams are used to help address any concerning signs before they become more serious. Your vet will use these visits to look over your pet, talk about their behavior and diet and offer any preventive care needed. Our vets in Perry share the importance of these routine pet checkups and what makes dog and cat exams important to your pet's overall health.
What is the Importance of Vet Checkups?
You should book this routine dog or cat 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 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).
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 the disease so that they can be treated before they develop into more serious problems.
How Frequently Should Your Dog or Cat Have Exams?
There are many factors that will be taken into consideration when it comes to how often your dog or cat should have a vet checkup.
If your cat, dog or other animal has a history of illness but is currently healthy, we recommend booking an appointment at your vet's twice each year or more to ensure your pet stays as healthy as possible. Your vet can examine your pet and tell you how often they should come in for a physical exam.
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 Should You Prepare For a Vet Checkup
There are a few things that you can bring to help your vet during your dog or cat's exam. 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 To Expect During a Cat or Dog Checkup
When you take your pet to the veterinarian for a cat or dog exam, your animal’s medical history will be reviewed and your vet will ask 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.
In some cases, you’ll be asked to collect and bring along a fresh sample of your pet’s feces (bowel movement) so a fecal exam can be completed. These exams help to identify whether any number of problematic intestinal parasites are present. These parasites may otherwise be difficult to detect.
At this point, your vet will get into the physical portion of the dog pr cat checkup.
- Listening to your pet's heart and lungs
- Checking your animal's weight, stance, and gait
- Checking your pet's eyes for signs of redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- Inspecting the pet's coat for overall condition, dandruff, or abnormal hair loss
- Looking at your pet's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
- Looking at your pet's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Examining the condition of your pet's teeth for any indications of periodontal disease, damage or decay
- Examining your dog or cat's skin for a range of issues from dryness to parasites to lumps and bumps (particularly in skin folds)
- Palpate your pet's abdomen to access whether the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
- Feeling along your pet's body (palpating) for any signs of illness such as swelling, evidence of lameness such as limited range of motion, and signs of pain
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 your vet has discovered any areas of concern during the dog or cat checkup then they will offer their recommendations for moving forward.
Your vet will also use this cat or dog checkup to administer any vaccinations or preventive care that is needed.
Diagnostic Testing That May Be Recommended During The Vet Checkup
Your vet may also recommend some additional diagnostic testing during the routine vet 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 during this dog or cat exam, in addition to diagnostic testing such as X-rays and imaging.
Once The Dog or Cat Checkup is Complete
Once your pet has been examined, tested and given their annual vaccines during the vet checkup you will be offered any advice and next steps along with the findings from any tests.
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.