You can help to keep your pet healthy and happy by regularly attending routine wellness exams. These checkups allow your veterinarian to detect early symptoms of common conditions and monitor your pet's long term health. Here, our PetVet Care Centers member vets share info about what to expect when bringing your pet in for their wellness exam.
My pet looks healthy, why should I bring her to the vet?
A wellness exam is a checkup done on your pet by your veterinarian while your companion appears to be perfectly healthy. 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. It also allows them to check for diseases while they are in their early stages when they can benefit the most from treatment. 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 so they can be treated before they become much more serious.
How often should my pet have a wellness exam?
The frequency of your pet's wellness examinations will vary based on your pet's 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 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.
What does a wellness examination for pets involve?
When you do come to a wellness exam with one of our PetVet Care Centers member 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 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 upon the appropriate schedule for your animal.
Additional Wellness Testing Recommended for Pets
In addition to the basics of the wellness examination, your vet may also recommend additional wellness testing for your pet. When you're making the decision about whether to have your poet 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:
- 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 completes 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.
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.