Annual Dog and Cat Exams and Why They Are Important

Annual exams or vet checkups for your dog or cat 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. Today our Edgewater vets explain the benefits of preventive care for pets. 

Why book a dog checkup or cat checkup if my pet seems healthy?

Preventive care is about preserving your pet's health and providing them with the care they require to maximize their chances of living a long and healthy life. Preventive care for pets begins with annual or biannual wellness exams, depending on the needs of your dog or cat.

These routine examinations are veterinarian checkups for your cherished four-legged companion.

By bringing your dog or cat to the veterinarian, even if they appear to be in perfect health, you allow your veterinarian's team to monitor your pet's health, look for early signs of disease, and provide preventive care such as vaccines and parasite prevention to keep your dog or cat looking and feeling their best.

Catching 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 I need to bring my pet in for a checkup?

Our veterinarians recommend annual examinations for the majority of dogs and cats. However, each pet is unique and has unique needs, particularly as they age. This is why the frequency of your pet's checkups will vary depending on his or her age and medical history.

Puppies and kittens can be susceptible to health problems that adult pets easily resist. This also applies to senior or geriatric pets. You should bring your puppy/kitten is much more frequently for checkups to ensure they have the best possible start in life (every month for puppies and kittens under a year old). Twice a year, or more frequently if necessary, is recommended for geriatric pets.

What's involved in a vet checkup for dogs and cats?

When you bring your fur-baby to our Edgewater animal clinic for a checkup, our vets will review their medical history and ask you about any specific concerns you might have.

In some cases, we may have requested that you bring a sample of your pet's stool in for a fecal exam. We will examine that sample for signs of common intestinal parasites that would be extremely difficult to detect in any other way.

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 are designed to detect early warning signs of potential health problems in your pet. Because our dogs and cats are unable to communicate their discomfort, these tests and checks help determine how your furry friend is feeling in general.

What about getting my pet their shots?

Vaccines protect your dog or cat from common, contagious, and potentially fatal diseases. The vaccines recommended for your dog or cat will vary according to your location and the lifestyle of your pet.

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 check out our vaccine schedule.

Adult pets will require regular 'booster shots' to maintain their disease resistance. Boosters are typically administered annually or every three years. Your veterinarian will notify you when it is time for your dog or cat's booster shots.

Does my pet need parasite prevention?

Parasites pose a serious threat to the health of Edgewater pets. Ticks and mosquitos carry parasites that can enter the body of your pet and cause potentially fatal conditions; this is why your veterinarian will recommend ways to prevent parasites from invading your four-legged friend. Additionally, it's critical to understand that some of these parasites can be transmitted from pets to their devoted owners!

Parasite prevention can help to protect your pet from conditions such as:

  • Heartworm
  • Fleas
  • Lyme Disease
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Babesiosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Hookworms
  • Roundworms 
  • Tapeworms
  • Whipworm

Is preventive care expensive?

Compared to treating advanced forms of conditions, disorders, or diseases, (especially heartworm) regularly scheduled wellness exams will save you money. 

Additionally, they will ensure that your pet experiences the least amount of discomfort or pain possible as a result of any health issues they are experiencing. The earlier a medical problem is identified, the more effectively 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.

Is it time for your pet's checkup? Book an appointment at Animal General today.