Regularly bringing your pet to routine physical exams will go a long way to keeping him or her healthy and happy. Today, our Baltimore vets explain what you can expect when bringing your pet in for a routine exam.
My pet looks healthy. Why should I bring him to the vet?
A few times a year, your pet should come to see your vet to have a routine exam, even while your four-legged family member appears perfectly healthy from the outside. These checkups are an excellent way to make sure your pet achieves and maintains excellent health.
If your vet sees your pet on a regular basis, this will give your veterinarian the opportunity to keep an eye on your furry friend’s health, in addition to checking for diseases and catching them early, when they can benefit the most from treatment.
These routine physical exams are focused on both preventing conditions when possible and spotting early signs of health issues or illness so they can be treated before they develop into more serious problems.
How often should my pet have a routine exam?
How often your pet should see your veterinarian varies depending on your pet’s age and medical history.
If your pet is currently healthy but has a history of illness, it may be a good idea for them to see your vet twice a year or more to ensure they remain as healthy as possible. Your vet can tell you how often your pet should come in for routine exams.
While adult pets with a robust immune system are easily able to resist diseases, kittens and puppies can often be more susceptible to illness. This is why for the first few months of their life, your vet may recommend they see your pet more often - perhaps once a month.
Typically, our vets at Falls Road Animal recommend that adult cats and dogs with no history of illness come in for an annual routine exam.
However, some pets such as giant breed dogs and senior cats and dogs face a higher risk of several health conditions, so they should be checked more frequently to detect early signs of illness. In these cases, twice-yearly routine exams are a good benchmark.
What’s involved in a routine examination for pets?
When you come in for a routine exam with one of our vets, we’ll review your pet’s medical history with you and discuss any concerns you may have. Your pet’s lifestyle, diet, exercise routine, urination and bowel movements, thirst levels and general behavior may also be discussed.
Next, your vet will complete a physical exam for your pet. This will typically include the following (and often much more):
- Inspecting your pet’s eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, swelling, eyelid issues or redness
- Checking your pet’s stance, gait and weight
- Examining your pet’s nails and feet for damage or signs of more serious health issues
- Feeling along your pet’s body (palpating) for any symptoms of illness such as signs of pain or swelling, or evidence of lameness such as limited range of motion
- Examining your pet’s ears for signs of wax buildup, polyps, bacterial infection or ear mites
- Inspecting your pet’s teeth for damage, decay or signs of periodontal disease
- Examining your pet’s coach for abnormal hair loss, dandruff and overall condition
- Listening to your pet’s lungs and heart
- Palpating your pet’s abdomen to check for signs of discomfort and find out whether internal organs appear to be normal
- Examining your cat’s or dog’s skin for a range of problems from parasites or dryness to lumps and bumps (particularly in skin folds)
If no issues are found during the routine exam, this list of tests and checks will breeze by. Your vet may even chat with you as they go through the process. However, if they do discover a health issue, they will make sure to take the time to explain what they’ve noticed and recommend the next steps or treatment.
Any annual vaccinations your pet needs will also be administered during their exam, based on the appropriate vaccination schedule for your pet.
Additional Recommended Wellness Testing for Pets
Along with the basics of your pet’s routine examination, your vet may also recommend additional wellness testing. When your considering whether to bring your pet in for additional testing, it’s important to remember that detecting and treating disease early is always less expensive and less invasive than treating an advanced condition.
These tests screen for a range of conditions and can help detect very early signs of illness, even before symptoms appear:
- Thyroid hormone testing
- Complete blood count (CBC)
If your pet is a giant breed dog or senior animal, your vet may recommend more diagnostic testing such as x-rays or other imaging.
The End of the Routine Exam
Once your vet has completed your pet’s examination and testing, he or she will administer any required annual vaccines and dedicate time to discussing any findings they made with you.
If signs of illness or injury have been detected during the exam, your veterinarian will brief you on details of their diagnosis and treatment options.
If your pet is generally healthy, the discussion may focus on diet and exercise improvements, caring for your pet’s oral health, and essentials such as appropriate parasite prevention you may want to incorporate into your pet’s health routine.
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.