Routine veterinary care and exams can help prevent and detect serious diseases and conditions that can affect your furry friend. Our veterinarians in Snellville share some of the ways that regular veterinary exams are important for pets and what to expect at these routine vet exams.
Why are routine cat or dog checkups important?
No matter how healthy your pet may seem, they should visit the vet once or twice yearly for a full physical examination. Also known as a wellness exam, these visits help your pet maintain their ideal health.
By bringing your healthy vet to see the veterinarian on a regular basis, you allow your vet the opportunity to assess your pet's overall health and test for diseases that may be difficult to identify in their early stages (such as cancers or parasites).
This allows for any potential concerns to be addressed as early as possible allowing for a better chance at a full recovery. During your pet's routine health checkup, the veterinarian's purpose is two-fold: to prevent conditions where possible and to spot early signs of disease so that they can be treated before they become more serious, perhaps even life-threatening.
When should my pet have a vet checkup?
The frequency of wellness exams for your cat or dog will depend on the age and general health of your pet. If your animal has a history of illness but is currently healthy, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your vet twice a year or more to ensure your pet stays as healthy as possible. Your vet will be able to tell you how often your pet should come in for a physical exam.
Due to the fact that their immune systems are still developing, kittens and puppies can be especially vulnerable to many illnesses that adult pets can easily fight off. This is why your vet may recommend booking a monthly checkup for the first few months of your puppy or kitten's life.
Generally, an adult dog or cat with no history of illness should see us for a vet checkup on an annual basis. However, if your pet is in a high-risk category, such as a giant breed dog or senior cat or dog, they should visit a veterinarian more frequently to watch for signs of illness due to their increased risk of health conditions. In these cases, twice-yearly dog or cat checkups are an excellent idea.
How to Prepare For a Dog or Cat Checkup
When you bring your pet in for their annual dog exam, your vet will need some essential up-to-date information on your canine or feline friend, especially if this is a first visit. Bring notes on your pet's:
- Past medical records, including vaccination history
- Current medications (names and doses)
- Recent travel history or tick bites
- Eating and drinking habits
- Toilet habits
You may also choose to bring toys or a favorite blanket for comfort. While cats should be in a carrier, dogs should be on a leash.
What to Expect During a Cat or Dog Checkup
At the beginning of your cat or cat's checkup, the vet will ask you questions regarding your pet, their behavior and their medical history. They will also inquire about your pet's exercise routine, diet, urination, thirst level, bowel movements and other aspects of their lifestyle and general behavior.
Your vet may have asked you to bring in a fresh fecal sample in order to perform a fecal exam. These exams help to identify whether your pet is suffering from any number of problematic intestinal parasites. These parasites may otherwise be challenging to detect.
Once these are complete your veterinarian will perform the physical examination of your pet. Some of the areas that may be covered are:
- Measuring your pet’s gait, stance and weight
- Using a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s lungs and heart
- Looking into the eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, cloudiness or redness. Will also look for issues with eyelids
- 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 your cat’s or dog’s skin for numerous issues — from bumps or lumps (especially in folds of skin) to dryness and parasites
- Inspecting the condition of the teeth for any indications of decay, damage or periodontal disease
- Checking your pet’s nails and feet for signs of significant health concerns or damage
- Feeling the abdomen to check whether internal organs appear normal, and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
- Check 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 your pet is healthy with no signs of concern this exam will be relatively quick. If an issue is identified, your vet will explain what they have noticed and recommend the next steps or potential treatments.
What if your pet needs additional diagnostic tests?
Once your vet has completed the exams, they may also recommend additional testing to monitor for of confirm any medical conditions. 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, in addition to diagnostic testing such as X-rays and imaging.
What happens after a cat or dog checkup?
Once the physical examination has been completed along with any preventive care or diagnostics, your vet will share the results and any next steps that should be taken.
If the veterinarian spotted any potential issues they will offer a course of action to help confirm diagnosis if necessary and treat your pet's condition.
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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.