During a routine exam with your veterinarian, they will check for the early signs and symptoms of illnesses, internal damage and other serious health issues that may be affecting your cat or dog. Here, our Apple Valley vets explain why routinely scheduled veterinary checkups are so important.
Why are routine vet checkups important?
You should make a point to book routine physical exams at least once a year with your veterinarian, even when your pet appears to be perfectly healthy. These wellness checkups allow your pet to achieve and maintain their ideal health.
By taking your pet to the vet while they seem totally healthy, you give your veterinarian the chance to assess your companion's overall health and well-being as well as to text fo illness, disease and conditions which may be difficult to identify in their earliest stages.
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 or cat has a history of illness but is currently healthy and well, we still recommend that you book an appointment with your vet twice each year (or more often than that, even) to make sure that your pet remains as healthy as possible. Our vets will be able to examine your pet and let them know 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.
Generally speaking, an adult cat or dog who doesn't have a history of illness should check in with us for a vet checkup regularly. However, certain breeds and sizes of dogs and cats may face an increased risk of certain conditions and should see a veterinarian frequently to monitor for early signs of health issues. Ask your vet how often they should be seeing your pet at your next appointment!
How to Prepare
Your veterinarian will require the following basic medical information about your feline or canine companion. This is doubly so if this is your pet's first visit. Please bring notes on your dog or cat's:
- Tick bites
- Toilet habits
- Food (what kind do they eat)
- Eating and drinking habits
- Recent travel history
- Current medications (names and doses)
- Past medical records, including vaccine history
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 into the veterinarian for a checkup, your pet's medical history will be reviewed and your veterinarian will ask you if you have any particular concerns about the health and well-being o your pet. They will also ask about your pet's diet, thirst levels, exercise routine, bowel movements, urination and any 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.
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
- Using a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s lungs and heart
- 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
- Feeling the abdomen to check whether internal organs appear normal, and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
- Inspecting the condition of the teeth for any indications of decay, damage or periodontal disease
- Looking into the eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, cloudiness or redness. Will also look for issues with eyelids
- Examining your furry companion’s coat to assess overall condition, as well as look for signs of abnormal hair loss or dandruff
- Inspecting your cat’s or dog’s skin for numerous issues — from bumps or lumps (especially in folds of skin) to dryness and parasites
- 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
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 the basic dog or cat checkup exam points listed above, our veterinarians may also recommend additional wellness testing. Remember that, in many cases, the early detection and treatment of disease will be less invasive and less expansive than having the condition treatment once it has reached a more advanced stage.
Tests for blood count, thyroid hormone testing and a urinalysis may be done, in addition to diagnostic testing such as X-rays.
Ending the Vet Checkup
After your pet has received their examination and had their vaccinations administered, your vet will dedicate time to explaining any of their findings to you.
If they 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.