Annual routine exams for your dog or cat give your veterinarian the chance to check on your pet's overall health and catch any emerging issues early while they are still the most treatable. Today, our Rainbow City vets explain more about the importance of annual dog and cat exams.
The Importance of Dog & Cat Checkups
Preventive care is about maintaining your dog or cat's health and giving them the best chance at a long and healthy life. Even if they seem healthy, your pet should visit the vet annually (or more often depending on their situation) for a routine wellness exam.
During a routine exam, your vet will give your pet an overall health check, administer annual vaccinations, discuss parasite prevention, and check on their diet to ensure they are getting the nutrients they need for their size, age, and lifestyle.
Spotting health issues such as parasites, ear infections, or gastrointestinal issues before more obvious symptoms appear means that treatment can begin early when it is most effective.
How often should my pet have a vet checkup?
At Central Valley Animal Hospital in Rainbow City our vets recommend annual cat or dog checkups for most pets. However, each pet is different and has different needs - especially as they age. This is why the frequency of your cat or dog's checkups will depend on their age and medical history.
Puppies and kittens can be susceptible to health conditions that are easily resisted by adult pets. This is likewise true for senior or geriatric pets. For this reason, young and senior pets will often need to visit more often. The same goes for pets that have pre-existing health conditions that need to be monitored.
What's involved in a vet checkup for dogs and cats?
When you take your four-legged friend for their annual checkup, your veterinarian will review their medical history and ask you about any specific concerns you might have.
In some instances, we will have asked you to bring in a sample of your pet's stool in order to do a fecal exam. We will take that sample and examine it for signs of common intestinal parasites which would be very difficult to detect otherwise.
After these initial steps, your veterinarian will perform a physical checkup of your pet which will usually include any or all of the following:
- 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 or parasites to lumps and bumps
- 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
All of these tests are meant to detect signs of any health problems your pet may be experiencing. Since our dogs and cats can't tell us when they are uncomfortable, these tests and checks help to determine how your furry friend is generally feeling.
Will my pet get their shots during their checkup?
Vaccines are designed to protect your dog or cat against common, contagious, and potentially life-threatening diseases. The vaccines recommended for your dog or cat will be based on where you live and your pet's lifestyle.
Core vaccines for dogs and cats are recommended for all pets, whereas lifestyle vaccines are most often recommended for pets that are regularly in contact with other animals. Speak to your vet to learn more about the vaccines recommended for your pet.
Adult dogs and cats will need to be provided with booster shots on a regular basis in order to maintain their protection against disease. In most cases, boosters are given annually or once every three years. Your vet will be sure to let you know when your dog or cat's booster shots are due.
Does my pet really need parasite prevention?
Parasite prevention is important for all pets, even if they spend the majority of their time indoors. Diseases caused by parasites, such as heartworm disease, can be painful for your pet and difficult and expensive to treat. Prevention is the best protection. Some parasites can even spread to other pets or people in your household.
Parasite prevention can help to protect your pet from conditions such as:
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Talk to your vet about which parasite preventives they recommend for your pet's situation.
Is preventive care expensive?
Compared to treating advanced forms of conditions, disorders, or diseases, (especially heartworm) regularly scheduled wellness exams combined with preventive care can save you money.
Not only that, but they will make sure your pet experiences a minimal amount of discomfort or pain from any health issues they are experiencing. The sooner a medical issue is detected, the sooner it can be diagnosed and treated.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.