During your pet's annual wellness exam, your vet will check for early symptoms of illness, internal conditions, and other health issues that should be addressed. Our vets in Zeeland explain why regular veterinary checkups are essential.
Why are vet checkups important?
This once- or twice- yearly routine physical exam is an essential part of maintaining your pet's optimal health and should be consistent even when your pet appears to be perfectly healthy. These wellness checkups help your pet achieve and maintain their ideal health.
By taking your healthy animal to visit the vet regularly, you allow your veterinarian the chance to assess your pet's health on an ongoing basis as well as being able to test for diseases, illnesses, and conditions that can be difficult to identify in their early stages (e.g. cancers and parasites).
These conditions benefit from early treatment. During the checkup, your vet has two goals: to prevent health conditions from developing where possible and to spot early symptoms of disease so that they can be treated before they develop into more serious problems.
How often should my pet attend a vet checkup?
Your pet's age, medical history, breed, and a number of other factors will determine how often your pet should see the veterinarian for a checkup.
If your cat, dog, or other animal has a history of illness but is currently healthy, we recommend booking an appointment at your veterinarian's office twice or more a year to ensure your pet stays as healthy as possible. Your vet can examine your pet and tell you how often they should come in for a physical exam.
Since your puppy or kitten's immune system is still developing, young pets can be especially susceptible to many illnesses that adult pets are easily able to overcome. For this reason, your vet might recommend booking a monthly checkup for the first few months.
Typically, an adult dog or cat with no history of illness should see us for a vet checkup on a yearly basis. Some pets require more frequent vet wellness checks, including senior pets and giant breed dogs, which can face an increased risk of many conditions and should see a veterinarian more often to monitor for early signs of illness. In these cases, it's a good idea to bring your pet in for twice-yearly cat or dog checkups.
How do I prepare for a wellness check?
Your vet needs basic medical information about your animal companion, especially if this is your pet's first visit. Your vet may ask about your pet's:
- Eating and drinking habits
- Recent travel history
- Current medications (names and doses)
- Past medical records, including vaccine history
- History of tick bites
- Food (e.g. the kind they eat)
- Waste elimination habits
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 pet to their wellness check, your animal’s medical history will be reviewed and your vet will ask about any concerns you have. They will also ask about your pet’s diet, exercise routine, thirst level, bowel movements, urination and other aspects of their lifestyle and general behavior.
In some cases, you’ll be asked to collect and bring along a fresh sample of your pet’s stool so a fecal exam can be completed. These exams help to identify whether any number of problematic intestinal parasites are present, which would otherwise be difficult to detect.
Next, the vet will physically examine your pet. Depending on your pet's individual needs, your vet may take time to perform more testing or examination; however, routine wellness exams cover the following:
- Measuring gait, stance, and weight
- Listening to your pet’s lungs and heart with a stethoscope
- Looking into the eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, cloudiness, or redness
- Palpating your pet's body to check for signs of illness
- Feeling the abdomen to ensure internal organs appear normal, and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
- Checking your pet’s nails and feet for signs of significant health concerns or damage
- Examining your pet’s ears for signs of wax buildup, polyps, ear mites, or bacterial infection
- Inspecting the condition of the teeth for any indications of decay, damage, or periodontal disease
- Examining your pet's skin and coat for signs of dandruff, hair loss, lumps, bumps, dryness, and other dermatological conditions
If no issues are detected along the way, your vet can likely run through this list quickly and seamlessly. If an issue is identified, your vet will explain what they have noticed and recommend the next steps and/or treatment options.
Annual vaccinations are also administered during a cat or dog checkup, based on your pet’s appropriate schedule.
Additional Wellness Testing
Along with the checkup exam points we list above, the vet may also recommend additional diagnostic testing such as X-Rays and imaging. In many cases, early detection and treatment of disease are less costly and invasive than having the condition treated once it has become more advanced.
After the Vet Checkup
Once your pet has been examined, tested, and given their appropriate vaccines, your vet will dedicate time to explaining their findings to you.
If the veterinarian has found any signs of injury or illness, they will recommend more detailed diagnostics or potential treatment options to help.
If your pet is healthy overall, this discussion may focus on improvements to exercise and diet routines, caring for your pet’s oral health and checking that essentials such as appropriate parasite prevention are monitored.
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.