Routine checkups or wellness exams for your pet once a year provide your veterinarian with the opportunity to inspect your companion's health and look for signs of diseases early while they are easier to treat. In this blog, our vets in Grand Prairie discuss the importance of routine cat and dog wellness exams and preventative care for pets.
Should I book a cat or dog checkup if my pet looks healthy?
Preventive care helps to maintain your animal companion's good health and provides them with the care they require giving your pet their best chance at life-long quality health. Your pet's preventative care should consist of a wellness exam one to two times a year (depending on their needs).
These routine exams are vet checkups for your furry friend.
By taking your pet to the vet, even when they look perfectly healthy, you are giving your veterinarian the chance to monitor your cat or dog's health, look for early signs of diseases, and provide preventive care such as parasite prevention and vaccines to keep your pet feeling and looking their best.
Detecting health conditions such as ear infections, parasites, or gastrointestinal problems early, before obvious symptoms appear, means that treatment can start sooner when it's most effective.
How often should my pet get a vet checkup?
Our vets recommend bringing your pet in for checkups at least once a year. Although, every animal is different and has its own unique needs - especially as they get older. This is why the frequency of your cat or dog's checkups will depend on their age and medical background.
Puppies and kittens can be prone to health problems that adult pets easily resist. This is also the case for senior or geriatric pets. You should bring your puppy/kitten in for a checkup much more frequently to give them the very best start in life, (every month for puppies and kittens under a year old). And geriatric pets should see a vet twice a year or more if needed.
What happens at pet checkups?
When you bring your furry companion to our Grand Prairie animal hospital for a checkup, your vet will review their medical history and ask you if you have specific concerns regarding your pet's health.
Sometimes we will ask you to bring in a sample of your pet's stool to 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.
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
- Inspecting the pet's coat for overall condition, dandruff, or abnormal hair loss
- 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
- Examining the condition of your pet's teeth for any indications of periodontal disease, damage or decay
- Looking at your pet's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Palpate your pet's abdomen to access whether the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
- Examining your dog or cat's skin for a range of issues from dryness to parasites to lumps and bumps (particularly in skin folds)
- 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 vaccines for my pet?
Vaccines are made to keep your dog or cat safe from 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 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.
Does my pet require parasite prevention?
Parasites are a real health threat to Grand Prairie pets. Ticks and mosquitos carry parasites that can invade your pet's body and cause potentially fatal conditions, that's why your vet will recommend ways to prevent parasites from invading your four-legged friend. It's also important to know that some of these parasites can be passed from pets to their loving owners!
Parasite prevention can help to protect your pet from conditions such as:
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Will my pet's preventive care be 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 make sure your pet experiences a minimal amount of discomfort or pain from any health issues they are experiencing. The sooner a medical issue is detected, 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.