The best way to keep your pet healthy and to catch any health problems early is with routine wellness exams. These checkups give your vet the opportunity to monitor your pet's overall condition and to examine your cat or dog for early signs of diseases. In this blog, our veterinarians in Ypsilanti discuss the importance of bringing your pet in for regular wellness exams and what you can expect at your cat or dog's checkup.
Why Wellness Exams Are Important
Annual wellness exams are veterinary 'check-ups' for your pet. Wellness exams occur once or twice a year when your cat or dog seems to be in perfect health. These checkups are an excellent way to help your furry companion achieve life-long optimal health by directing attention to early disease detection and prevention. When you take your pet to the vet on a regular basis you are giving your veterinarian the chance to monitor your cat or dog's overall health and to look for diseases that can be difficult to detect in their early stages such as parasites and cancers.
Booking Your Pet's Routine Wellness Exam
The amount of veterinary exams your pet attends in a year will depend on their age, previous medical history, lifestyle, and breed risk for developing diseases. If your cat or dog is healthy at the moment but has a history of illness or a higher than average risk of developing a disease, seeing your veterinarian twice a year can help make sure your pet stays as healthy as possible.
For adult pets in good health one wellness exam, a year is recommended.
Animals that are very young or very old tend to be more susceptible to illness. If you have a new puppy or kitten it is a good idea to visit your vet once a month for the first 4 - 6 months.
If your pet is in their senior years, or they are a giant breed of dog that faces an increased risk of developing a disease, twice-yearly wellness exams are recommended. This will give your veterinarian an opportunity to examine your pet for early signs of disease, and get treatment started before the condition becomes more severe.
What You Can At Your Pet's Wellness Exam
When you bring your cat or dog to the vet for their annual checkup your veterinarian will review your pet's medical history and ask if there is anything about your companion's health or behavior that you are concerned about. Your vet will also ask you about your pet's diet, lifestyle, exercise routine, level of thirst, and urination.
Many veterinarians will ask pet owners to bring a fresh sample of their pet's stool (bowel movement) in order to perform a fecal exam. Fecals are a valuable tool when it comes to detecting intestinal parasites that can severely impact your pet's health.
After this your veterinarian will conduct a physical examination of your pet which typically includes the following:
- Weighing your pet
- Checking your cat or dog's stance and gait for irregularities
- Examining your companion's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health conditions
- Listening to your pet's heart and lungs
- Taking a close look at your dog or cat's skin for problems such as dryness, parasites, or lumps
- Checking the overall condition of your furry friend's coat, watching for dandruff or bald patches
- Inspecting their eyes for redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- Examining your animal companion's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Looking at your cat or dog's teeth for any trace of periodontal disease, damage, or tooth decay
- Feeling along your pet's body (palpating) for signs of illness such as swelling, evidence of lameness, limited range of motion, and pain
- Palpate your cat or dog's abdomen to see if the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
All of these inspections and more can be done quickly and seamlessly if no issues are found along the way. Your vet will generally maintain a conversation with you as they perform this comprehensive examination.
Your vet will also provide your cat or dog with their annual vaccines, based upon the appropriate schedule for your pet. Vaccinations for puppies and kittens, as well as booster shots for adult dogs and cats, are an important part of giving your companion their best chance at a long and happy life. Keeping your pet up to date on vaccines throughout their life will help to protect them from a range of contagious, potentially serious, diseases and conditions.
Additional Wellness Testing Recommended for Some Pets
On top of the general checks listed above, your veterinarian might also recommend additional wellness testing. When deciding on additional testing for your cat or dog it's important to keep in mind that in many situations early detection and treatment of disease is less expensive and less invasive than treating the condition once it has reached more advanced stages.
The tests below screen for a range of conditions and can help find the earliest signs of disease, even before symptoms appear:
- Complete blood count (CDC)
- Thyroid hormone testing
If you have a senior pet or a giant breed dog, more detailed diagnostic testing might be recommended such as x-rays and other imaging.
At The End of The Wellness Exam
Once your cat or dog's checkup is over, and they have received their vaccines, your vet will take the time to discuss any findings with you.
If your veterinarian has found any signs of illness or injury, they will take the time to speak to you about more detailed diagnostics, or the treatment options available.
If your pet is given a clean bill of health, your vet may offer tips or recommendations regarding your pet's diet and exercise routines, oral health, or appropriate parasite prevention.
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.