Regularly scheduled checkups for your dog or cat allow your vet to monitor your pet's overall health, check for the earliest signs of developing conditions, and provide preventive treatments to help protect your pet against some very serious illnesses. Today our Vancouver vets explain the importance of preventive care for pets.
Why book a routine exam if my pet seems healthy?
Preventive care is about maintaining your pet's good health and providing the care they need to give them their best possible shot at living a long and healthy life. Preventive care for pets starts with routine wellness exams either annually or twice yearly depending on the needs of your dog or cat.
These routine exams are vet checkups for your beloved four-legged friend.
By bringing your dog or cat in to see the vet, even when they seem perfectly healthy, you give your team of veterinary professionals an opportunity to monitor your pet's health, check for the earliest signs of diseases, and provide preventive care such as vaccines and parasite prevention to keep your dog or cat looking and feeling they're very best.
Catching health issues including parasites, ear infections, or gastrointestinal issues early, before obvious symptoms appear, means that treatment can begin early when it is most effective.
How often should I need to bring my pet in for a checkup?
Our vets typically recommend yearly checkups for most adult dogs and cats. However, each pet is different and has unique needs - especially as they age. This is why the frequency of your pet's checkups will depend on the age and medical history of your dog or cat.
Puppies and kittens can be susceptible to health conditions that are easily resisted by adult pets. This is likewise true for senior or geriatric pets. You should bring your puppy/kitten in for a checkup much more frequently to give them the very best start in life, (every month for puppies and kittens under a year old). For geriatric pets, twice a year or more if needed is recommended.
What's involved in a vet checkup for dogs and cats?
When you bring your fur baby in for their checkup, our vets will review their medical history and ask you about any specific concerns you might have.
In some instances, we will have asked you to bring in a sample of your pet's stool in order to do a fecal exam. We will take that sample and examine it for signs of common intestinal parasites which would be very difficult to detect otherwise.
After these initial steps, your veterinarian will perform a physical checkup of your pet which will usually include any or all of the following:
- Listening to your pet's heart and lungs
- Checking your animal's weight, stance, and gait
- Checking your pet's eyes for signs of redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- Inspecting the pet's coat for overall condition, dandruff, or abnormal hair loss
- Looking at your pet's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
- Looking at your pet's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Examining the condition of your pet's teeth for any indications of periodontal disease, damage or decay
- Examining your dog or cat's skin for a range of issues from dryness to parasites to lumps and bumps (particularly in skin folds)
- Palpate your pet's abdomen to access whether the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
- 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
All of these tests are meant to detect signs of any health problems your pet may be experiencing. Since our dogs and cats can't tell us when they are uncomfortable, these tests and checks help to determine how your furry friend is generally feeling.
Are vaccinations part of a routine exam appointment?
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. To learn more about the vaccines recommended for your pet checkout our vaccine schedule.
Adult pets will need to be provided with 'booster shots' on a regular basis 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.
Does my pet really need parasite prevention?
Parasites are a real health threat to Vancouver pets. Ticks and mosquitoes 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:
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Is preventive care expensive?
Compared to treating advanced forms of conditions, disorders or diseases, (especially heartworm) regularly scheduled wellness exams will save you money.
Not only that, but they will make sure your pet experiences a minimal amount of discomfort or pain from any health issues they are experiencing. The sooner a medical issue is detected, the sooner it can be diagnosed and treated.
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.