Regular routine examinations for your pet can help to give your companion good health. They do so by providing your vet an opportunity to check for early symptoms of common illnesses and keep an eye on your pet's overall well-being. Here, our Mamaroneck vets explain what they do during a pet routine exam and how often your pet should attend them.
My pet looks healthy, why should I bring her to the vet?
A routine exam is a veterinary examination of your pet, like a quick cat or dog checkup to be done while your pet appears perfectly healthy. Pet wellness exams at a clinic near you are an excellent way to help your companion achieve their health goals in the long term.
By bringing your healthy dog or cat in for a checkup, you provide your veterinarian with the chance to monitor their health and to check your pet for diseases which may be difficult to detect in their earliest stages. Your dog or cat's wellness examination is a veterinary appointment which is aimed at spotting signs of disease while in their early stages and most treatable and, if possible, preventing conditions altogether.
How often should my pet have a wellness exam?
How often you should be bringing your pet to your vet for a routine exam depends on your pet companion's age and their medical history.
If your cat or dog is healthy at the moment, but has a history of illness, it's generally a good idea to bring them in for a routine exam twice a year to ensure they stay as healthy as possible. Your vet will let you know how often to bring your pet in for a wellness exam.
Kitten and puppy wellness can be disrupted by a wide variety of illnesses that adult pets are able to fight off quite easily. Because of this, our vets advise that you attend a kitten or puppy checkup every month for the first few months of their life.
It is typically recommended that adult dogs and cats, without a history of illness, visit the vet for a routine exam on an annual basis. That said, some pets such as senior dogs and cats, and giant breed dogs face a higher risk of many conditions and should be seen more frequently to watch for early signs of illness. In these cases twice-yearly routine exams are a good idea.
What does your vet do during your pet's routine checkup?
When you attend a routine checkup with your pet, our vets will review your companion's medical history and listen to any specific concerns you might have. They will also ask you about your pet's diet, exercise routine, level of thirst and hunger, bowel movements, urination general lifestyle and behavior and demeanor.
In most instances, you will be asked to collect a fresh stool sample from your pet (feces or bowel movement), to bring along to your routine checkup so that your vet can conduct a fecal exam to be performed. Fecal exams allow your vet to identify intestinal parasites in your pet which may be quite difficult to detect otherwise.
Next your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your pet which will typically include the following, (and often much more):
- Listening to your pet's heart and lungs
- Checking your animal's weight, stance, and gait
- Inspecting the pet's coat for overall condition, dandruff, or abnormal hair loss
- Looking at your pet's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Looking at your pet's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
- Examining the condition of your pet's teeth for any indications of periodontal disease, damage or decay
- Checking your pet's eyes for signs of redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- Feeling along your pet's body (palpating) for any 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
- Examining your dog or cat's skin for a range of issues from dryness to parasites to lumps and bumps (particularly in skin folds)
This list of checks that your vet runs through while performing a routine examination can be done quite quickly if they don't detect any issues along the way. Your veterinarian may even be able to keep up a conversation with you as they go through the process. If your vet does find something concerning, they will make sure to take the time to explain what they have noticed to you and then recommend next steps and possible treatment plans.
Annual vaccinations will also be given at your pet's routine exam, based upon the appropriate schedule for your animal.
Additional Wellness Testing Recommended for Pets
In addition to the basic pet checkup points we've listed above, your vet may also advise you that your pet requires some extra testing. When deciding whether your pet should undergo additional testing, keep in mind that in many cases early detection and treatment of possible disease is much less expensive (and certainly less invasive for your pet) than treating a condition in its advanced stages.
The following tests screen for a range of conditions and can help detect the very earliest signs of illness before symptoms appear:
- Thyroid hormone testing
- Complete blood count (CDC)
If your pet is a senior animal or a giant breed dog, more detailed diagnostic testing may also be recommended including x-rays and other imaging.
At The End of The Routine Exam
Once your pet's examination and testing is completed and your pet has received their annual vaccines, your vet will be sure to discuss their findings with you.
If any signs of illness or injury have been detected along the way, your veterinarian will talk with you about more detailed diagnostics or available treatment options.
If your pet is generally healthy, the discussion may focus on exercise and dietary improvements, parasite prevention and caring for your pet's oral health. If your can care for your pet's essential health, they will be off to a good start in the long term.