Annual routine wellness exams (pet checkups) provide your vet with the chance to monitor the health of your cat or dog and detect any signs of disease or illness early. In this blog, our Santa Clarita vets express the importance of taking your cat or dog to the vet annually for routine wellness exams.
Why book a checkup when your pet seems healthy?
The goal of preventive care is to maintain the good health of your cat or dog and to get them the quality care they require so they can have their best chance possible at lifelong good health. Preventive care for pets begins with routine wellness exams that take place either annually or twice yearly, depending on what your furry friend's needs are.
These routine wellness exams are vet checkups for cats and dogs.
By taking your pet to the vet when they appear to be in optimal health, you are giving your veterinary team the opportunity to monitor your cat or dog's health, check for the earliest signs of diseases, and provide them with the preventive care they require such as vaccines and parasite prevention, this helps keep your animal companion feeling and looking their best.
Detecting health problems such as ear infections, parasites, and gastrointestinal problems before more visible symptoms arise means that your vet can start your pet's treatment when it will be most effective.
How often should I bring my cat or dog in for a checkup?
Our vets recommend annual checkups for most dogs and cats. However, each pet is unique and has different 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 more frequently to provide them the best possible start at life, (every month for puppies and kittens under a year old). For geriatric pets, twice a year (or more if needed) is recommended.
What will happen in my dog or cat's vet checkup?
When you take your furry companion into our Santa Clarita animal clinic for a vet checkup, we may ask you to bring in a record of their medical history, so our team of veterinary professionals can review it. They will also ask if you have any specific questions or concerns regarding your pet's health.
Sometimes, we will ask you to bring in a fresh sample of your cat or dog's stool so your vet can conduct 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.
Following these initial steps, your veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical checkup of your pet which generally consists of these elements:
- Checking your animal's weight, stance, and gait
- Looking at your pet's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Listening to your pet's heart and lungs
- Checking your pet's eyes for signs of redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- Looking at your pet's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
- Inspecting the pet's coat for overall condition, dandruff, or abnormal hair loss
- 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
- Examining the condition of your pet's teeth for any indications of periodontal disease, damage, or decay
- 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 the tests detailed above are designed to catch any signs of arising health problems your cat or dog may be suffering from. Because our pets can't tell us what is causing their discomfort these tests and checks help to determine how your furry friend is generally feeling.
What about getting my pet their shots?
Vaccines are made to keep your cat or dog safe from common, contagious, and possibly life-threatening diseases. At your wellness exam, your vet will check to see if your cat or dog is due for any vaccinations or parasite prevention.
The vaccines your vet will recommend for your pet will be determined by factors such as your location and your cat or dog'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.
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.