During a regular checkup, your vet will look for signs of potential health issues, internal damage, and other serious conditions that need treatment. Our vets at San Mateo are here to explain the significance of scheduled checkups for your pet's well-being.
Why are routine vet checkups important?
Make sure to schedule regular checkups for your pet with the vet – at least once a year, maybe even twice. This is important even if your pet seems fine. These wellness visits help keep your pet healthy throughout their life.
Regular vet visits allow the vet to check your pet's overall health and catch potential problems early, like diseases or parasites that are hard to spot initially, such as cancers or parasites.
Dealing with these issues early is key. During the checkup, your vet aims to prevent problems and catch any signs of illness before they get worse.
How often should my pet attend a vet checkup?
If your pet has been healthy so far, scheduling a routine checkup with the vet at least twice a year is recommended. This helps ensure your pet's ongoing well-being.
Puppies and kittens are more vulnerable to illnesses due to their developing immune systems. A monthly checkup might be advised for the first few months to keep them safe and healthy.
Generally, adult pets without a history of serious illness should have a yearly physical checkup. However, senior pets, giant breeds, and those prone to certain conditions might need more frequent checkups, possibly twice a year, to catch any problems early.
Your vet will guide you on the best schedule for your furry friend's health.
How to Prepare
During your pet's first visit to the veterinarian, you'll need to provide some basic medical information about your dog or cat. Remember to bring along notes about your animals:
- Tick bites
- Eating and drinking habits
- Recent travel history
- Toilet habits
- Food (what kind do they eat)
- Current medications (names and doses)
- Past medical records, including vaccine history
You may also want to bring a favorite blanket or toys for comfort. While dogs should be on a leash, cats should be in a carrier.
What does a checkup for pets involve?
When you take your dog or cat to the vet, they will review their medical history and ask if you have any concerns. They'll also discuss your pet's diet, exercise routine, thirst, and bowel movements. The vet wants to gather as much information as possible about your pet's overall well-being and behaviors.
In certain cases, you might need to provide a fresh stool sample for a fecal exam. This exam helps identify any potential intestinal parasites that might not be easily noticeable.
Next, the vet will physically examine your pet. While this will usually cover the following points, the vet may take time to do more depending on your pet's needs:
- Measuring your pet's gait, stance, and weight
- Checking your pet's nails and feet for signs of significant health concerns or damage
- Using a stethoscope to listen to your pet's lungs and heart
- Examining your pet's ears for signs of wax buildup, polyps, ear mites, or bacterial infection
- Feeling the abdomen to check whether internal organs appear normal and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
- Examining your furry companion's coat to assess overall condition, as well as look for signs of abnormal hair loss or dandruff
- Checking for any signs of illness by feeling along your pet's body (palpating). These symptoms include lameness or limited range of motion, or signs of swelling or pain
- Inspecting the condition of the teeth for any indications of decay, damage, or periodontal disease
- Inspecting your cat's or dog's skin for numerous issues — from bumps or lumps (especially in folds of skin) to dryness and parasites
- Looking into the eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, cloudiness, or redness. I will also look for issues with eyelids
If your vet doesn't detect any health issues, they will likely run through this list quite quickly—they may even be able to chat with you while they do so easily! If they do find an issue, though, they will explain whet they notice and recommend what next steps should be taken.
Annual vaccinations are also administered during a cat or dog checkup based on your animal's appropriate schedule.
Additional Wellness Testing Recommended for Pets
In addition to the basic checkup points we mentioned earlier, the vet might suggest extra wellness tests. Keep in mind that often, catching and treating a disease early is cheaper and less disruptive than dealing with it at a later, more advanced stage.
Tests for blood count, thyroid hormone testing, and urinalysis may be done in addition to diagnostic testing such as X-rays and imaging.
Ending the Vet Checkup
Once your pet has been checked, received vaccinations, and undergone testing, the veterinarian will take the time to explain their findings to you.
If the vet identifies any injuries or signs of illness, they might suggest further tests or treatment choices.
If your pet is in good health, the conversation might revolve around enhancing exercise and diet, looking after your pet's oral hygiene, and ensuring essential tasks like preventing parasites are being taken care of.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.