Help your pet to achieve optimal long-term health with Routine Wellness Exams. These checkups give your vet the opportunity to monitor your pet's health, check for early signs of health problems and provide essential preventive care. Here, our Westport vets share what to expect when bringing your pet in for a routine exam.
My pet looks healthy, why go to the vet?
A routine wellness exam for your pet is much like your annual checkup at your doctor's office. These examinations are performed by your primary care veterinarian while your companion appears to be completely healthy. Attending routine exams once or twice a year is an excellent way to help your pet achieve optimal long-term health.
If you take your healthy pet in to see their vet regularly, you give your veterinarian the chance to monitor your companion's overall health. It also allows vets to check for diseases while they are in their earliest stages when they can benefit the most from treatment. Your pet's routine wellness exams are aimed at preventing conditions when possible and spotting the early signs of illness so that they can be treated before becoming more serious.
How often should my pet have a routine exam?
The frequency of your animal companion's routine examinations should vary based on their age and prior medical history.
If your pet is perfectly healthy but has a history of illness, it may be a good call 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 dogs and cats are easily able to resist. Because of this, your vet may recommend that you bring your pet in for a routine exam every month for the first few months of their life.
For adult dogs and cats, without a history of illness, we recommend that you take your pet in for a wellness exam on a yearly 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.
What does a routine wellness exam for pets involve?
When you do come to a wellness exam with one of our Westport Veterinary Associates 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):
- Checking your animal's weight, stance, and gait
- Checking your pet's eyes for signs of redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- 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
- Listening to your pet's heart and lungs
- 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
If your vet doesn't find any issues during the wellness exam, the list of checks and tests they run through will go quickly. If they do detect something that they are concerned about, your vet 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 that your pet is due to receive will also be administered by your vet at your animal's wellness exam.
Why is my vet recommending tests?
In addition to the basics of your pet's routine examination, your vet may also recommend additional wellness testing for your pet. 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 typically 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:
- Complete blood count (CDC)
- Thyroid hormone testing
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.
At The End of The 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 recommended treatment options.
If your pet is generally healthy the discussion might focus on diet and exercise modifications, caring for your pet's oral health, and essentials such as appropriate parasite prevention for your dog or cat.
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.