Should You Bring a Healthy Pet To The Vet?
Even healthy-looking dogs and cats should be brought in for routine vet visits and wellness exams. Attending wellness exams a few times a year is an excellent way to make sure your pet achieves optimal health.
If you take your healthy pet in to see their vet regularly, you are able to give your veterinarian the chance to keep an eye on your companion's overall health. These visits also allow vets to check for diseases while they are in their early stages. Your pet's routine wellness exams are aimed at a combination of preventing conditions when it is possible and spotting the early signs of illness. This is all done so that they can be treated before it becomes much more serious.
What does a pet wellness examination involve?
When your pet receives a wellness exam with one of our Ellenton Animal Hospital vets, we will review your pet's medical history with you and speak with you about any concerns you might have. We might also ask about your pet's diet, exercise routine, lifestyle, thirst levels, urination, bowel movements and general behavior.
In some cases, you will also be asked to bring a fresh sample of your pet's feces in order to conduct a fecal exam. Fecal exams, or fecals, help your vet identify the presence of intestinal parasites in your pet which are otherwise very difficult to detect.
Next, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your pet which will typically include the following, (and often much more):
- 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
- 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
- Inspecting the pet's coat for overall condition, dandruff, or abnormal hair loss
- Examining the condition of your pet's teeth for any indications of periodontal disease, damage or decay
- Palpate your pet's abdomen to access whether the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
- 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
- Examining your dog or cat's skin for a range of issues from dryness to parasites to lumps and bumps (particularly in skin folds)
If your vet doesn't find any issues during the wellness exam, the list of checks and tests they have to run will breeze by. Your vet may even maintain a conversation with you as they go through the process, If they do detect something, however, they will be sure to take the time to explain what they have noticed and recommend what the next steps or treatments would be.
Annual vaccinations will also be given at your pet's wellness exam, based on the appropriate schedule for your animal.
How often should pets have a wellness exam?
Depending on your pet's age and prior medical history, it would be beneficial to attend annual or quarterly wellness exams.
If your pet is healthy but has a history of illness, it would be better to take them to see your vet twice a year or more to make sure that they stay as healthy as possible. Your vet will let you know how often your pet should come in for their wellness exams.
Puppies and kittens can often be susceptible to diseases that adult pets are easily able to resist. Because of this, your vet may also recommend that you bring your pet in for a wellness exam every month for the first few months of their life.
It is typically recommended that adult dogs and cats, without a history of illness, visit the vet for a wellness exam on an annual basis. That said, some pets such as senior dogs and cats, and giant breed dogs face a higher risk of many conditions and should be seen more frequently to watch for early signs of illness. In these cases, twice-yearly wellness exams are a good idea.
Additional Wellness Testing Recommended for Pets
Your vet may recommend additional wellness testing for your pet depending on the symptoms they may be showing. When you're making the decision about whether to have your pet undergo additional testing, it's important to remember that the early detection and treatment of a disease is always less expensive and less invasive than treating an advanced condition.
The following tests screen for a range of conditions and can help detect the very earliest signs of illness before symptoms appear:
- Thyroid hormone testing
- Complete blood count (CDC)
If your pet is a senior animal or a giant breed dog, more detailed diagnostic testing may also be recommended including x-rays and other imaging.
Completing A Wellness Exam
Once your vet has completed your pet's testing and examination, they will administer your pet's annual vaccines and take the time to discuss any findings they made with you.
If they have detected signs of injury or illness during the process, your veterinarian will speak with you about the details of their diagnosis and the treatment options available to you and your furry companion.
If your pet is generally healthy the discussion might focus on diet and exercise improvements, caring for your pet's oral health, and essentials such as appropriate parasite prevention for your pet.