During a routine exam, your veterinarian will check your pet for the signs of symptoms of illness, internal damage and conditions that require diagnosis and treatment. Here, our Avon vets explain why routinely scheduled veterinary checkup appointments are important.
Why are routine vet checkups important?
You should book your pet a routine physical examination with your veterinarian at least once each year, even when your pet appears to be totally healthy. These wellness checkups will help your vet to ensure your pet remains in good health all throughout their life.
By bringing in a healthy pet to visit your vet, you are giving your veterinarian the chance to assess your pet's health, habit and nutritional needs in order to identify diseases, illnesses and medical needs that your pet has to have addressed, even catching serious diseases in their earliest stages.
These conditions benefit from early treatment. During the checkup, your vet has two goals: to prevent health conditions from developing where possible and to spot early symptoms of diseases so that they can be treated before they develop into more serious problems.
How often should my pet attend a vet checkup?
Your pet's medical history and age will determine how often your pet should see the veterinarian for a checkup.
If your dog, cat or other pet has a history of illness but is currently totally healthy, we advise that you book an appointment with your vet at least twice each year to make sure they remain as healthy as possible. Our vets can examine your pet and let you know how often they should come in to see us based on their medical history.
Since your puppy or kitten's immune system is still developing, young pets can be especially susceptible to many illnesses that adult pets are easily able to overcome. For this reason, your vet might recommend booking a monthly checkup for the first few months.
Generally speaking an adult dog or cat with no history of illness should see us for a veterinary checkup on an annual basis. That being said, some pets like senior dogs and cats or giant breed of dog require more attentive routine care since they are vulnerable to more illnesses and conditions. For these pets, it's a good idea to bring your pet in twice-yearly for dog or cat routine checkups.
How to Prepare
Your vet will need the following basic medical information about your canine or feline companion, especially if this is your pet's first visit. Bring notes on your animal's:
- Tick bites
- Toilet habits
- Eating and drinking habits
- Recent travel history
- Food (what kind do they eat)
- Current medications (names and doses)
- Past medical records, including vaccine history
You may also want to bring a favorite blanket or toys for comfort. While dogs should be on a leash, cats should be in a carrier.
What does a checkup for pets involve?
When bringing your pet to the veterinarian, your companion's medical history will be reviewed and you will be asked by our vets about any concerns you might have. They will also inquire about your pet's diet, exercise routine, thirst levels, bowel movements, urination and other general aspects of their life and behavior.
In some cases, you’ll be asked to collect and bring along a fresh sample of your pet’s feces (bowel movement) so a fecal exam can be completed. These exams help to identify whether any number of problematic intestinal parasites are present. These parasites may otherwise be difficult to detect.
Next, the vet will physically examine your pet. While this will usually cover the following points, the vet may take time to do more depending on your pet’s needs:
- 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
- Checking 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
- Feeling the abdomen to check whether internal organs appear normal, and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
- Checking your pet’s nails and feet for signs of significant health concerns or damage
- Examining your pet’s ears for signs of wax buildup, polyps, ear mites or bacterial infection
- Inspecting the condition of the teeth for any indications of decay, damage or periodontal disease
- 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
If your vet doesn't detect any issues along the way, they will likey be able to run through this list of checks quite quickly. They may even be able o hold a casual conversation with you as they do so! If an issues is identified by your vet, they will explain what they have noticed and will recommend next steps or potential treatments for your pet.
Annual vaccinations are also administered during a cat or dog checkup, based on your animal’s appropriate schedule.
Additional Wellness Testing Recommended for Pets
Alongside the standard basic checks listed above, our vets may also recommend additional wellness testing or diagnostics. In many cases, the early detection and treatment of diseases is far less expensive and invasive than having the condition treated once it has become much 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.
Ending the Vet Checkup
After your pet has been examined, tested and given their annual vaccinations or preventive treatments, our vets will sit down with you and explain any findings.
If the veterinarian has found any signs of injury or illness, they will recommend more detailed diagnostics or potential treatment options to help.
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 people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.