Regular pet wellness exams contribute to your pet's health by giving your vet an annual chance to inspect your four-legged family member for early signs of disease and assess your pet's overall health. In this guide, our vets in Portland outline what you can anticipate when bringing your dog or cat in for a routine exam.
What Does a Dog Wellness Exam Consist of?
By scheduling their annual wellness exam, ensure your cat or dog receives a veterinary 'check-up.' These pet check-ups, occurring once or twice a year, are crucial even when your pet seems perfectly healthy. Optimal health for your pet is achievable through these examinations emphasizing prevention and early disease detection. Regular visits to the vet for your healthy dog or cat allow your veterinarian to monitor overall health and identify diseases that may be challenging to detect in their early stages, such as cancers and parasites.
How often should my pet have a routine wellness exam?
The frequency of your pet's wellness exams depends on factors such as age, medical history, lifestyle, and breed risk for diseases. If your pet is currently healthy but has a history of illness or a higher-than-average risk of developing a disease, scheduling biannual vet visits can help ensure your pet's optimal health.
For adult pets in good health, annual wellness exams are often ideal.
Very young or elderly animals are more susceptible to illness. If you have a new puppy or kitten, it's advisable to visit your vet once a month for the first 4-6 months.
Biannual wellness exams are recommended for senior pets or animals with an increased risk of disease, such as giant breed dogs. This allows your veterinarian to detect the earliest signs of disease and initiate treatment before the condition worsens.
What will happen at my pet's routine wellness exam?
When you bring your pet in for their wellness exam, your vet will thoroughly review their medical history and inquire about any concerns regarding your dog or cat's health or behavior. Additionally, your vet will discuss your pet's diet, lifestyle, exercise routine, thirst level, and urination habits.
To facilitate a fecal exam, many veterinarians ask pet owners to provide a fresh stool sample for analysis. This exam is crucial for detecting intestinal parasites that could significantly affect your pet's health.
Following this, your veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical examination of your pet, covering 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 assess whether the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
Performing these checks and more becomes quick and easy if no issues arise. Your vet will undoubtedly converse with you while conducting this comprehensive examination. The vet appointments typically last between 15 to 30 minutes.
Your pet's wellness exam will also include administering annual vaccines and following the appropriate schedule for your cat or dog. Vaccinations for puppies and kittens and booster shots for adult dogs and cats ensure your animal has the best chance at a long and happy life. Keeping your pet current on vaccines throughout their life helps protect them against various contagious and potentially serious diseases and conditions.
Why is my vet recommending extra tests for my pet?
As well as the general checks listed above, your veterinarian may also recommend additional wellness testing. When deciding whether your dog or cat should have further testing, it's important to remember that 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.
What happens once the examination is complete?
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.