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Veterinary Exam: Why Are Pet Check Ups Important?

Veterinary Exam: Why Are Pet Check Ups Important?

Vet check ups are a crucial part of the ongoing care of your furry friend. Using these visits you can ensure that your pet is healthy and protected against a number of serious conditions and diseases. Here, our Cumming vets discuss the importance of routine veterinary exams and what to expect during these pet check ups for your cat or dog.

Why does my dog or cat need vet check ups?

Ideally, your pet should be seen for a routine cat or dog wellness exam by your veterinarian once or twice a year, even if the animal seems perfectly healthy. Regular wellness checkups help you and your vet team support your pet's good health and happiness.

By regularly attending wellness dog or cat check ups even when your pet seems healthy, you allow your veterinarian the opportunity to assess your pet's general health and test for diseases, illnesses, and conditions that can be hard to spot early on (including cancers and parasites). 

The earlier that your vet can spot any potential illness or condition, the better. Most issues will respond better to early treatment rather than once the condition has worsened. During the checkup, your vet has two goals: to prevent health conditions from developing where possible and to spot early signs of disease so that they can be treated before they develop into more severe issues.

When will my pet need a wellness exam?

The frequency with which you bring your pet to the vet will depend on their age, breed and lifestyle as well as any conditions that they may have.

If your pet has a history of illness but is currently healthy, we recommend scheduling a twice-yearly wellness check with your vet to ensure your pet stays as healthy as possible. Your vet can examine your pet and tell you how often they should come in for a physical exam. 

Since your puppy or kitten's immune system is still developing, young pets can be more susceptible to some illnesses that adult pets are easily able to overcome. To provide your young pet with the care they need during their formative months, your vet might recommend booking a monthly checkup for the first few months. 

Usually, an adult dog or cat with no history of illness should be taken to a vet checkup every year. Pets like senior dogs and cats and giant breed dogs can face an increased risk of additional conditions and should see a veterinarian more often to monitor for early signs of illness. In these cases, it's a good idea to bring your pet in for twice-yearly cat or dog checkups. 

What can I do to prepare for my cat or dog's wellness exam?

Your vet needs some basic medical information about your canine or feline companion, especially if this is your cat or dog's first check up with us. Bring notes about your pet including their:

  • Recent travel history
  • Past medical records
  • Eating and drinking habits
  • Current medications (names & doses)
  • Vaccine history
  • Tick bite history
  • Food (type & amount)
  • Waste elimination habits

You can bring anything that may help comfort your dog or cat and be sure to keep them on a leash or in a carrier.

What to Expect During Your Dog or Cat's Wellness Exam

When you take your pet to the veterinarian, your animal’s medical history will be reviewed and your vet will ask about any concerns that you have. The vet will further follow up with questions about your pet’s diet, exercise routine, thirst level, bowel movements, urination, and other aspects of their lifestyle and general 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 diagnostic tests can help to identify whether problematic intestinal parasites are present which may be otherwise difficult to detect.

Next, the vet will perform a physical examination of your pet. While this is not an exhaustive list, these are some of the steps in a routine veterinary exam of your pet:

  • Measure their size and weight
  • Listen to their heart and lungs
  • Inspect their eyes for potential concerns
  • Assessing your pet for any signs of illness
  • Feeling the abdomen for abnormalities or signs of pain
  • Examining your pet's nails and feet for signs of health issues or conditions
  • Checking inside your pet’s ears for signs of wax buildup, polyps, ear mites, or bacterial infection
  • Inspecting their teeth for signs of decay, damage, or periodontal disease
  • Examining your pet's fur, skin, and/or coat to assess overall condition

If your vet finds no cause for concern, the wellness check is usually completed fairly quickly and with few issues. They may even chat with you as they do so. If an issue is identified, your vet will explain what they have noticed and recommend the 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.

Other Diagnostic Tests or Exams That Your Vet May Perform

Along with the basic checkup foci that we talked about above, your vet may also recommend additional wellness testing. Remember that in the majority of cases, early detection and treatment of serious diseases is less expensive, less invasive, and less taxing on your pet than having the condition treated once it has become more advanced.

Tests for blood count, thyroid hormone testing, and a urinalysis may be done in addition to diagnostic testing like X-rays and imaging.

Should my dog or cat be vaccinated during their wellness exam?

Vaccines are designed to protect your dog or cat against common, contagious, and potentially life-threatening diseases. The vaccines recommended for your dog or cat will be based on where you live and your pet's lifestyle.

Core vaccines for dogs and cats are recommended for all pets, whereas lifestyle vaccines are most often recommended for pets that are regularly in contact with other animals. Speak to your vet to learn more about the vaccines recommended for your pet.

Adult dogs and cats will need to be provided with booster shots regularly in order to maintain their protection against disease. In most cases, boosters are given annually or once every three years. Your vet will be sure to let you know when your dog or cat's booster shots are due.

Will my pet need routine parasite prevention at this time?

There are certain parasites and pests in the Cumming area that you should take precautions against. Ticks and mosquitos carry parasites that can invade your pet's body and cause potentially fatal conditions, that's why your vet will recommend ways to prevent parasites from invading your four-legged friend. It's also important to know that some of these parasites can be passed from pets to their loving owners!

Parasite prevention can help to protect your pet from conditions such as:

  • Heartworm
  • Fleas
  • Lyme Disease
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Babesiosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Hookworms
  • Roundworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Whipworm

What happens after my pet's exam?

Once the veterinary exam has concluded, your vet will take a few minutes to discuss any notes that they have or findings and make recommendations for the next steps.

If your vet has found signs of injury, illness, or current or potential conditions, 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 or maintenance of their current 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. 

Do you need to book your dog or cat for their routine wellness exam or preventive care? Contact our Cumming Vets today.

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Animal Medical Center of Cumming is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Cumming companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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