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Routine Vet Exams - Why are Regular Veterinary Checkups Important?

Bringing your cat or dog to the vet's for routine exams is the best way to prevent numerous health issues your pet may experience. In this post, our Mandeville vets discuss the importance of routine veterinary exams. 

The Importance of Routine Pet Exams & Checkups

Ideally, your veterinarian should see your pet for a routine physical exam once or twice a year, even if your four-legged friend seems to be in perfect health. 

Regular wellness checkups help you and your veterinary team support your pet's good health and happiness. 

By regularly scheduling wellness checks even when your pet seems healthy, you give your veterinarian the chance to monitor your pet's general health and test for conditions, diseases, and illnesses that can be hard to detect early on (including tumors, parasites, and cancers). 

Potentially serious health issues benefit from early treatment. During the checkup, your veterinarian has two goals: to prevent health conditions from developing where possible and to spot early signs of illness so they can be treated before they develop into more severe issues. 

How Often Your Pet Should Be Examined 

Your veterinarian will likely consider a few factors before recommending how often your pet should come in for a wellness checkup, including their age and medical history. 

If your pet has a history of health problems but is currently healthy, we'll recommend scheduling twice-yearly wellness check with your vet to help your pet stay as healthy as possible. Your vet can perform a comprehensive physical exam and let you know how often they should come in for a routine checkup. 

Because your kitten or puppy's immune system is still developing, young pets are often more susceptible to some illnesses that adult pets would easily be able to overcome. To give your young pet the care they'll need during their first, formative months, your vet may recommend booking a monthly checkup for that important time period. 

An adult cat or dog with no history of illness should see the vet for a yearly checkup. Pets such as senior dogs and cats and giant breed dogs may face an increased risk of additional conditions and should see a veterinarian more often to look 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. 

Preparing Your Pet's Routine Exam

Your'll need to bring some basic medical information about your cat or dog with you to your appointment, especially if this is your pet's first wellness checkup with us. Specifically, we'll need to review your pet's:

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

You might also want to bring your pet's favorite blanket or toys to comfort them. While cats should be on a carrier, dogs should be on a leash. 

Elements of Your Pet's 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:

  • Measuring their gait, stance, and weight
  • Listening to your pet’s lungs and heart with a stethoscope
  • Checking the eyelids for any issues, in addition to examining their eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, cloudiness, or redness
  • Assessing your pet for any signs of illness such as limited motion or signs of swelling or pain by palpating (feeling along) their body.
  • Feeling the abdomen to check internal organ function and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
  • 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, as well as look for signs of abnormal hair loss, dandruff, unusual lumps, or bumps

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.

Additional Exam Tests

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.

Following Your Pet's Exam

Once your pet has been physically examined, had any diagnostic tests run on them, and given their annual vaccines, your vet will dedicate time to explaining their findings to you.

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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat or dog due for a routine exam? Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your four-legged friend. 

New Patients Welcome

At Riverside Veterinary Hospital, we are always accepting new patients. Our veterinary team is passionate about the health and well-being of companion animals in Mandeville. Book your first appointment today.

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