Annual dog or cat checkups 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. Here our Springfield vets explain the benefits of annual cat or dog exams.
Why book a vet exam for my pet if my dog or cat 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.
Routine wellness exams are health checkups for your four-legged friend.
By bringing your dog or cat in to see the vet, even when they seem perfectly healthy, you give your team of veterinary professionals an opportunity to monitor your pet's health, check for the earliest signs of diseases, and provide preventive care such as vaccines and parasite prevention to keep your dog or cat looking and feeling they're very best.
Spotting 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 my pet have a checkup?
Here at Greenbrier-Springfield Animal Hospital 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 can be susceptible to health conditions that are easily resisted by adult pets. This is likewise true 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). For geriatric pets, twice a year or more if needed is recommended.
What's involved in a routine vet checkup for pets?
When you bring your four-legged friend in to our Springfield animal clinic for a checkup, our vets will review their medical history and ask you about any specific concerns you might have.
In some instances, we will have asked you to bring in a sample of your pet's stool in order to do 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
- 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 play a unique role in detecting 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?
Regularly scheduled vaccines are designed to protect your dog or cat against common, contagious, and potentially life-threatening diseases. The vaccinations 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 really need parasite prevention?
Parasites are a real health threat to Springfield 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
Aren't routine exams a waste of money?
When compared to the cost of treating advanced forms of conditions, disorders or diseases, (especially heartworm) regularly scheduled wellness exams and preventive care 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 signs of a health problem are 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.