Wellness checkups are essential to your pet’s health and well-being. These exams give your veterinarian an opportunity to monitor your pet’s general health and check for early signs of illness. In this post, our Mamaroneck vets explain what you can expect when your four-legged friend comes in for a pet checkup.
My pet looks healthy, why should I book a checkup?
On a regular basis, we recommend bringing your pet in to your veterinarian for a wellness exam. This assessment should be done even if your kitty or pup appears to be perfectly healthy. Once or twice yearly pet checkups are an excellent way to make sure your pet is as healthy as can be.
By bringing your healthy pet to visit the vet regularly, you give the veterinarian an opportunity to monitor your pet’s general health and look for diseases that can be difficult to detect in their early stages (such as cancers or parasites), but that benefit from early treatment.
This regularly scheduled veterinary appointment has a dual purpose: to prevent health issues where possible and to identify early signs of disease so they can be treated before they develop into more serious health problems.
How often should my pet have a routine checkup?
Depending on your pet’s age and previous medical history, the answer to this question will vary.
If your pet has a history of illness but is currently healthy, we recommend visiting your vet twice a year or more to confirm that your pet is as healthy as possible. Ask your veterinarian how often you should bring your pet in for wellness exams based on their specific circumstances.
Puppies and kittens may be prone to many conditions that adult pets with robust immune systems will easily fight off or overcome. This is why your vet may recommend booking a kitten or puppy checkup each month for the first few months.
For adult cats and dogs with no history of illness, we usually recommend they see us on an annual basis for a wellness exam. Remember that some pets such as senior dogs and cats, in addition to giant dog breeds, have a higher risk of developing many illnesses and should attend a dog or cat checkup more often to look for early signs of illness. In these cases, wellness exams every six months are an excellent idea.
What will my vet look for during a routine checkup?
When your pet sees us for a routine health exam, the veterinarian will check your four-legged friend's medical history and ask about any concerns you may have. He or she will also inquire about your pet’s diet, bowel movements, urination, thirst level, diet, overall behavior and other important elements of their lifestyle.
You may be asked to collect and bring a fresh sample of your pet’s feces (bowel movement) to your appointment so a fecal exam can be done. Fecal exams help your pet identify problematic intestinal parasites — which can otherwise be difficult to detect — are in your pet’s body.
Next, the vet will physically examine your pet, checking the nose, tail and everything in between, including the palpating the abdomen to check for signs of discomfort or abnormalities in the organs, feeling along the body for signs of pain, and checking the skin, coat and teeth for signs of disease or conditions.
If your vet does not detect any issues along the way, this list of checks can usually be done quickly and seamlessly. Your vet may even carry a conversation with you as they examine your pup or kitty. If an issue does come up, they will take the time to explain what they have noticed, then recommend the next steps or possible treatments.
Annual vaccinations will also be given during your pet's wellness exam, based upon the appropriate schedule for your animal.
Additional Wellness Testing Recommended for Pets
As well as the basic examination points listed above, your vet may also recommend additional wellness testing. When deciding whether your pet 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 illness before symptoms appear:
- Complete blood count (CDC)
- Thyroid hormone testing
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.
Finishing The Wellness Checkup
Once the examination and testing is complete, and your pet has been given their annual vaccines, your vet will take the time 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 might focus on diet and exercise improvements, caring for your pet's oral health, and essentials such as appropriate parasite prevention for your pet.
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.