Making sure your dog or cat has an annual vet checkup is the best way to help them have long and happy lives. When our furry friends have health complications, the earlier they can be treated the better as it allows for more effective and less invasive treatment. Routine exams allow our Montecito vets to monitor your dog or cat's overall health and keep them fit for fetching.
Why Dog and Cat Checkups Matter
Your pet's annual routine exam is a vet 'check-up' for your four-legged friend. Routine exams take place once or twice a year while your pet appears to be perfectly healthy. 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. By taking your healthy dog or cat in to see their vet regularly, you give your veterinarian the opportunity to monitor your pet's overall health and check for diseases that can be difficult to spot in the early stages (such as cancers and parasites).
Scheduling Your Dog's Checkup or Your Cat's Checkup
How often your pet should see the vet for routine exams depends upon your pet's age, previous medical history, lifestyle, and breed risk for developing diseases. 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.
For adult pets, in good health yearly, routine exams are 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 can be a good idea to visit your vet once a month for the first 4 - 6 months.
If you have a senior pet, or an animal such as a giant breed dog that faces an increased risk of developing the disease, twice-yearly routine exams are recommended. 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 Your Annual Dog Exam or Annual Cat Exam
When you bring your pet in to see us for their routine exam your vet will review your pet's medical history and ask if there is anything about your dog or cat'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 request that pet owners bring along a fresh sample of their pet's stool (bowel movement) in order for a fecal exam to be performed. Fecals are a valuable tool when it comes to detecting intestinal parasites that can severely impact your pet's health.
Next, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your pet which generally includes 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 checks and more can be done quickly and seamlessly if no issues are detected along the way. Your vet will likely even maintain a conversation with you as they perform this comprehensive examination.
Annual vaccines will also be given at your pet's routine 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.
Some Dogs and Cats Benefit from Additional Testing
As well as the general checks listed above, your veterinarian may also recommend additional routine 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.
At The End of The Vet Checkup
Once the 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 veterinarian 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.
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.