Annual exams for your dog or cat allow your veterinarian to monitor your pet's health, check for early signs of disease, and provide preventive treatments to help protect your pet against potentially life-threatening conditions. Today, our Weldon Spring vets explain the benefits of preventive care for pets.
Why book a dog checkup or cat checkup 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 chance 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.
Bringing your dog or cat to the vet, even if they appear perfectly healthy, allows your team of veterinary professionals to monitor your pet's health, check for early signs of disease, and provide preventive care such as vaccines and parasite prevention to keep your dog or cat looking and feeling their 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 recommend annual checkups for most dogs and cats. However, each pet is different 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 are vulnerable to health conditions that adult pets can easily resist. This also applies to senior or geriatric pets. You should bring your puppy/kitten in for regular checkups to give them the best start in life (every month for puppies and kittens under a year old). It is recommended that geriatric pets be examined twice a year, or more frequently if necessary.
What's involved in a vet checkup for dogs and cats?
When you bring your fur baby to our Weldon Spring animal clinic for a checkup, our vets will review their medical history and ask you about any specific concerns you might have.
We may have asked you to bring in a sample of your pet's stool in order to perform a fecal exam in some cases. We'll take that sample and look for signs of common intestinal parasites that would be difficult to find 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.
What about getting my pet their shots?
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 check out our vaccine schedule.
Adult pets will require booster shots on a regular basis in order to maintain their disease resistance. Boosters are typically administered once a year or every three years. Your veterinarian will notify you when your dog or cat's booster shots are due.
Does my pet really need parasite prevention?
Parasites pose a serious health risk to Weldon Spring pets. Ticks and mosquitos carry parasites that can infiltrate your pet's body and cause potentially fatal conditions; therefore, your veterinarian will advise you on how to keep parasites at bay. It's also worth noting that some of these parasites can be passed from pets to their 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 ensure that your pet suffers as little discomfort or pain as possible as a result of any health issues. The earlier a medical problem is discovered, 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.