Regular veterinary checkups are crucial for your pet's health. During these routine exams, your veterinarian will carefully examine your pet for any signs of illness, internal health problems, or other serious conditions that require attention. Our expert veterinarians in Vancouver explain why these checkups are essential for your pet's well-being.
Why are routine vet checkups important?
It's recommended to schedule a routine physical exam with your veterinarian once or twice a year, regardless of whether your pet seems to be in good health. These wellness checkups play a vital role in helping your pet maintain their optimal health.
Regular visits to the veterinarian allow them to evaluate your pet's overall health, perform tests for illnesses and diseases, and identify any conditions that respond best to early treatment.
During the checkup, your veterinarian aims to prevent the development of health conditions and identify early symptoms of diseases before they progress into more serious issues.
How often should my pet attend a vet checkup?
Your pet's medical history and age will determine how often you should take them to the vet.
For pets with a history of illness, we recommend booking appointments with the vet twice a year or more to maintain their health. Your vet can advise you on how often to bring your pet in for a physical exam.
Puppies and kittens have developing immune systems, making them more susceptible to illnesses than adult pets. Therefore, monthly checkups may be necessary during their first few months.
Generally, healthy adult pets without a history of illness require yearly checkups. However, senior dogs, cats, and giant breed dogs are more vulnerable to various conditions and may need to see the vet more often for early detection. In such cases, twice-yearly checkups are advisable.
How to Prepare
Your vet will need the following basic medical information about your canine or feline companion, especially if this is your pet's first visit. Bring notes on the following about your pet:
- Tick bites
- Eating and drinking habits
- Toilet habits
- Current medications (names and doses)
- Recent travel history
- Past medical records, including vaccine history
- Food (what kind do they eat)
You may also want to bring a favorite blanket or toys for comfort. While dogs should be on a leash, cats should be in a carrier.
What does a checkup for pets involve?
During your pet's visit to the veterinarian, their medical history will be reviewed, and you can discuss any health concerns you may have. Your vet will inquire about your pet's diet, exercise routine, bowel movements, urination schedule, and other relevant aspects of their life and behavior.
Sometimes, you may need to provide fresh fecal samples for a parasite screening test to identify problematic parasites that are hard to detect.
The veterinarian will then conduct a physical exam, covering the following points and more if needed, depending on your pet's requirements:
- Using a stethoscope to listen to your pet's lungs and heart
- Checking your pet's nails and feet for signs of significant health concerns or damage
- Inspecting your cat's or dog's skin for numerous issues — from bumps or lumps (especially in folds of skin) to dryness and parasites
- Looking into the eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, cloudiness, or redness. Will also look for issues with eyelids
- Feeling the abdomen to check whether internal organs appear normal and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
- Examining your pet's ears for signs of wax buildup, polyps, ear mites, or bacterial infection
- Examining your furry companion's coat to assess overall condition, as well as look for signs of abnormal hair loss or dandruff
- Inspecting the condition of the teeth for any indications of decay, damage, or periodontal disease
- Checking for any signs of illness by feeling along your pet's body (palpating). These symptoms include lameness or limited range of motion, or signs of swelling or pain.
- Measuring your pet's gait, stance, and weight
If no issues are detected along the way, your vet can likely run through this list quickly and seamlessly — 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.
Annual vaccinations are also administered during a cat or dog checkup based on your animal's appropriate schedule.
Additional Wellness Testing is Recommended for Pets
In addition to regular checkups and tests, your vet may suggest wellness testing for your pet. Remember, early detection and treatment of a health issue can be less costly and less invasive than treating an advanced-stage disease.
Your vet may perform blood count, thyroid hormone, urinalysis tests, and diagnostic imaging like X-rays.
Ending the Vet Checkup
After examining and testing your pet and administering their yearly vaccines, your vet will discuss their findings with you.
The vet may suggest further diagnostic testing or potential treatment options if any signs of illness or injury are found.
If your pet is healthy, the discussion may focus on improving their exercise and diet routines, oral health care, and ensuring essential parasite prevention is in place.
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.