Routine wellness exams are essential to maintaining your pet's health. It gives your vet the chance to check your furry family members for any early signs of illness and monitor their overall well-being. Our Clarksville vets explain what to expect when you bring your pet in for an annual exam.
My pet is healthy. Why bother going to the vet?
Your pet's annual wellness exam is a veterinary 'check-up' for your cat or dog. Wellness exams - or pet check-ups - usually take place once or twice a year.
These examinations are a great way to help your pet achieve optimal health by focusing on prevention and early disease detection.
Regular visits to the veterinarian for your dog or cat allow the vet to consistently assess your pet's general health and detect diseases that may not be easily observable in their initial 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 their age, medical history, lifestyle, and breed susceptibility to diseases. If your pet has a history of illness or an elevated disease risk, visiting your vet twice a year can help you maintain your pet's health.
For adult pets in good health, yearly wellness exams are often ideal.
Pets that are very young or very old tend to be more susceptible to illness. If you have a new puppy or kitten, visit your vet once a month for the first 4 - 6 months.
For senior pets or pets with a heightened disease risk, like giant breed dogs, bi-annual wellness exams are recommended. These exams allow your veterinarian to detect early signs of disease and initiate treatment before the condition worsens.
What does a dog wellness exam consist of?
When you bring your pet for a wellness examination, the veterinarian will review their medical history and inquire about any health or behavioral concerns. They will also ask about your pet's diet, lifestyle, exercise routine, thirst, and urination.
Many veterinarians request pet owners to bring a fresh sample of their pet's stool (bowel movement) for a fecal exam. Fecal exams are valuable tools for detecting intestinal parasites that can severely impact your pet's health.
Following that, the veterinarian will conduct a physical examination, which typically involves the following:
- Weighing your pet.
- Checking the pet'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 pets' heart and lungs.
- Looking closely 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.
- Palpating your pet's abdomen to assess whether the internal organs appear normal and to check for signs of discomfort.
Annual vaccines will also be given at your pet's wellness exam based on 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 pet their best chance at a long and happy life. Keeping your pet up to date on vaccines will help to protect your furry friend against a range of contagious, potentially serious diseases and conditions.
How long do vet appointments take?
The duration of a vet appointment can vary based on several factors. On average, a typical vet appointment for a routine checkup, vaccinations, or a minor concern usually lasts around 15 to 30 minutes. However, for more complex issues or if your pet requires additional tests, treatments, or procedures, the appointment may take longer, often ranging from 45 minutes to an hour or more.
Why is my vet recommending extra tests for my pet?
In addition to the mentioned routine checks, your veterinarian might suggest extra diagnostic tests. When determining if your dog or cat needs additional testing, it's crucial to consider that early detection and treatment of illnesses are often more cost-effective and less invasive than addressing advanced stages of disease.
The following subsequent tests screen for various conditions and can identify initial disease indicators before symptoms manifest:
- 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?
After completing the examination and administering annual vaccines for your pet, your veterinarian will discuss any findings.
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 the vet finds your dog or cat in good health, they may offer advice on your pet's diet, exercise, oral care, or 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.