Routine exams are important for your pet. They allow our Santa Cruz County vets to ensure your companion is in good health and find any emerging issues early while they are the most treatable.
Why are routine vet checkups important?
Your pet should attend a routine wellness exam with your veterinarian once or twice a year, even if they appear to be in good health. Routine exams allow your vet to assess your pet's general overall health and screen for any emerging health issues. Many conditions benefit from early treatment and you could be saving your pet from a lot of pain and discomfort down the road.
Routine checkups also allow your vet to assess your pet's diet and ensure they are getting the proper amount of nutrients for their age, size, and lifestyle.
How often should my pet attend a vet checkup?
Your pet's medical history, age, and breed will determine how often your pet should see the veterinarian for a checkup.
If your cat, dog, or other animal has a medical condition that requires monitoring, we generally recommend scheduling a routine exam twice each year or more to ensure your pet's health is staying on the right track. Your vet will let you know 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 especially susceptible to many illnesses that adult pets are easily able to overcome. For this reason, your vet might recommend booking a monthly checkup for the first few months of your new pet's life.
Typically, an adult dog or cat with no history of illness should see us for a vet checkup on a yearly basis. Your vet may recommend more visits based on your pet's age, breed, or other factors that could increase their chances of developing health issues.
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. You should have information prepared on your pet's:
- Eating and drinking habits
- Recent travel history
- Current medications (names and doses)
- Past medical records, including vaccine history
- Tick bites
- Food (what kind do they eat)
- Bathroom habits
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?
When you take your pet to the veterinarian they will begin the appointment by reviewing your pet's medical history and asking if you have any specific concerns. They will also ask 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. A fecal exam helps to identify whether any number of problematic intestinal parasites are present. These parasites may otherwise be difficult to detect.
Next, the vet will physically examine your pet. This will usually cover the following points:
- Measuring your pet’s gait, stance, and weight
- Listening to their heart and lungs with a stethoscope
- Looking into their eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, or redness
- Feeling your pet's body for any abnormal lumps, bumps, swelling, or signs of pain - both on their skin or internally
- Feeling the abdomen to check whether internal organs appear normal, and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
- Checking your pet’s nails and feet for signs of significant health concerns or damage
- Examining your pet’s ears for signs of wax buildup, polyps, ear mites, or bacterial infection
- Inspecting the condition of the teeth for any indications of decay, damage or periodontal disease
- Examining your furry companion’s coat to assess overall condition, as well as look for signs of abnormal hair loss or dandruff
If no issues are detected along the way, your vet can likely run through this list quickly and seamlessly. 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 Diagnostic Testing Recommended for Pets
Along with the basic checkup exam points we list above, the vet may also recommend additional diagnostic testing. Remember that in many cases, early detection and treatment of disease is less expensive and less invasive than having the condition treated once it has become more advanced.
Bloodwork, urinalysis, X-rays, or a number of other tests may be recommended.
Ending the Vet Checkup
Once your pet has been examined and given their annual vaccines, your vet will take the time to discuss their findings with you and allow you to ask any questions you have about your pet's health.
If the veterinarian has found any signs of injury or illness, 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 exercise and diet routines, caring for your pet’s oral health and checking that essentials such as appropriate parasite prevention are up to date.
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.