Regular veterinary checkups are essential for your pet's overall wellbeing. Today, our veterinarians at Bellevue discuss the vitality of routine vet checkups and the reasons behind their importance.
Why are routine vet checkups important?
It is important to schedule regular physical exams with your veterinarian, ideally once or twice a year, even if your pet appears to be in good health. These wellness checkups play a vital role in helping your pet achieve and maintain optimal health.
By bringing your seemingly healthy pet for routine visits to the vet, you provide an opportunity for your veterinarian to evaluate their overall health and well-being. This includes conducting tests to detect any underlying illnesses or diseases and identifying conditions that are most responsive to early treatments.
During the checkup, your vet has two main objectives: preventing the development of health issues whenever possible and identifying early symptoms of diseases to initiate prompt treatment before they progress into more serious problems.
How often should my pet attend a vet checkup?
The frequency of veterinary visits for your pet will depend on factors such as their medical history and age. If your cat, dog, or other animal has a history of illness but is currently healthy, we recommend scheduling vet appointments twice a year or more to ensure their ongoing well-being.
Your veterinarian can assess your pet and provide guidance on the recommended frequency of physical exams.
Young pets, such as puppies and kittens, have developing immune systems and may be more vulnerable to illnesses compared to adult pets. As a result, your vet may advise monthly checkups during their early 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 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 the following about your pet:
- Tick bites
- Eating and drinking habits
- Toilet habits
- Current medications (names and doses)
- Recent travel history
- Past medical records, including vaccine history
- Food (what kind do they eat)
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 bringing your pet to see your veterinarian, your animal's medical history will be reviewed and your vet about any concerns you might have about their health. They will also inquire about your pet's diet, exercise routine, bowel movements, urination schedule and any other relevant aspects of their life or general behavior.
In some instances, you will be asked to collect and bring along fresh samples of your pet's feces so that a parasite screening test may be compiled. These exams help to identity whether or not your pet is dealing with a number of problematic parasites that would otherwise be very 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:
- 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
- Examining your pet’s ears for signs of wax buildup, polyps, ear mites or bacterial infection
- Examining your furry companion’s coat to assess overall condition, as well as look for signs of abnormal hair loss or dandruff
- Inspecting the condition of the teeth for any indications of decay, damage or periodontal disease
- 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
- Measuring your pet’s gait, stance, and weight
- Checking your pet’s nails and feet for signs of significant health concerns or damage
- 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 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 next steps or potential 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 basic checkup exams and tests, your vet may also recommend additional wellness testing for your pet. Remember that in many instances, the early detection and treatment of a disease or health issue is far less expensive and invasive than having the condition treated when it has progressed into 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
After your pet has undergone an examination, tests, and received their annual vaccines, your veterinarian will take the time to discuss their findings with you.
If the vet has identified any signs of injury or illness, they may suggest further diagnostic procedures or potential treatment options to address the issue.
When your pet is deemed healthy overall, the discussion may revolve around enhancing exercise and diet routines, maintaining good oral health, and ensuring that essential aspects such as appropriate parasite prevention are being 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.