Annual physical checkups for your pet give your veterinarian the opportunity to help prevent disease and spot the earliest signs of developing health problems. Our Bedford vets share more about the importance of pet checkups and what they entail.
Why Cat & Dog Checkups Matter
Your pet's yearly routine exam is a veterinary checkup to help keep your companions healthy. These pet checkups are used when your pet is seemingly healthy but in order to ensure that there are no signs or symptoms of illness. These dog checkups and cat checkups are a great way to help your pet achieve optimal health by focusing on prevention and early disease detection.
When you bring your pet in to visit with their vet once or twice a year for these checkups, you give your veterinarian the opportunity to monitor your pet's overall health and check for the earliest signs of diseases that could otherwise be difficult to detect - such as cancers and parasites.
Scheduling Your Pet's Checkup
The frequency that your pet will need to visit for a pet checkup will depend on the type of pet as well as breed, age and if they suffer from any health conditions. If your animal is healthy at the moment but has a history of illness or a higher than average risk of developing a disease, seeing your vet twice a year can help to ensure that your pet stays as healthy as possible.
If you have a healthy adult pet then it will be recommended that they have yearly checkups.
Puppies and kittens as well as geriatric pets will need the most frequent care as they are most susceptible to illness. If you have a new puppy or kitten it can be a good idea to have a pet checkup once a month for the first 4 - 6 months.
Geriatric pets and animals such as giant breed dogs face an increased risk of developing a disease, so vets often recommend twice-yearly wellness exams for these pets. This will give your veterinarian an opportunity to check your pet for the earliest signs of disease, and get treatment started before the condition becomes more severe.
What to Expect at a Dog or Cat Checkup
Durig your companion's pet checkup your vet will review your pet's medical history and will want to discuss any of your pet'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.
It will be common for your vet to ask you to bring in a stool sample in order to allow them to perform a fecal exam during the checkup. Fecals are a valuable tool when it comes to detecting intestinal parasites that can severely impact your pet's health.
Once you have discussed any concerns and your vet will complete a physical exam that may include the following:
- Weighing your pet
- Checking the animal's stance and gait for irregularities
- Examining your pet's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
- Listening to your animal's heart and lungs
- Taking a close look at your dog or cat's skin for issues such as dryness, parasites, or lumps
- Inspecting the overall condition of your pet's coat, watching for dandruff or bald patches
- Checking eyes for redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- Examining your pet's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Looking at your pet's teeth for any indication of periodontal disease, damage or tooth decay
- Feeling along your pet's body (palpating) for signs of illness such as swelling, evidence of lameness such as limited range of motion, and signs of pain
- Palpate your pet's abdomen to access whether the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
All of these health checks and more can be done quickly and seamlessly if no issues are detected along the way. In most cases your vet will run through these checks while casually chatting with you.
Annual vaccines will also be given at your pet's wellness exam, based upon the appropriate schedule for your cat or dog. Vaccinations for puppies and kittens, as well as booster shots for adult dogs and cats, are an important part of giving your animal their very best chance at a long and happy life. Keeping your pet up to date on vaccines throughout their life will help to protect your furry friend against a range of contagious, potentially serious, diseases and conditions.
Other tests for your cat or dog
As well as the general health checks listed above, your vet may also recommend additional testing. When deciding whether your dog or cat should have additional testing it's important to keep in mind that in many cases early detection and treatment of disease is less expensive and less invasive than treating the condition once it has reached more advanced stages.
The following tests screen for a range of conditions and can help detect the very 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 may also be recommended including x-rays and other imaging.
After Your Pet's Checkup
Once your pet's examination is complete, and your pet has received their annual vaccines, your vet will take the time to discuss any findings with you.
If your vet has detected any signs of illness or injury, they will take the time to speak to you about more detailed diagnostics, or available treatment options.
If your dog or cat 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.