Routine wellness exams help to keep your pet healthy by giving your vet regular opportunities to examine your animal for early signs of disease and monitor your pet's overall health. Learn more about the importance of preventive care from our Zeeland vets.
Why are wellness exams important?
Your pet's annual wellness exam is a veterinary 'check-up' for your animal. Wellness exams take place once or twice a year while your pet appears to be healthy. These examinations are a great way to help your pet maintain their optimal health by focusing on prevention and early detection. By taking your healthy pet in to see their vet regularly, you give your veterinarian the opportunity to monitor your pet's overall health and check for diseases that can be difficult to spot in the early stages (such as cancers and parasites).
How often should I take my pet for a wellness exam?
How often your animal should see the vet for wellness exams depends upon your pet's age, previous medical history, lifestyle, and breed risk for developing disease. If your animal is healthy at the moment but has a history of illness or a higher than average risk of developing a disease, seeing your vet twice a year can help to ensure that your pet stays as healthy as possible.
For adult pets in good health yearly wellness exams are recommended.
Animals that are very young or very old tend to be more susceptible to illness. If you have a new puppy or kitten it can be a good idea to visit your vet once a month for the first 4 - 6 months.
If you have a senior pet or an animal(e.g. a giant breed dog) that faces an increased risk of developing disease, taking them in twice a year for wellness exams is a good idea. This will give your veterinarian an opportunity to check your pet for the earliest signs of disease, and get treatment started before the condition becomes more severe.
What to expect at a wellness exam for your pet
When you bring your pet in for their wellness exam your vet will review your animal's medical history and ask about any health or behavior concerns that you have. Your vet will also inquire about your pet's diet, lifestyle, exercise routine, level of thirst, and urination.
Sometimes, your vet might request that pet parents bring along a fresh sample of their pet's feces (bowel movement) in order for a fecal exam to be performed. Fecals are a valuable tool when it comes to detecting intestinal parasites that can severely impact your pet's health.
Next, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your pet which generally includes the following:
- Weighing your pet
- Checking the animal's stance and gait for irregularities
- Examining your pet's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
- Listening to the animal's heart and lungs
- Taking a close look at your dog or cat's skin for issues such as dryness, parasites, or lumps
- Inspecting the overall condition of your pet's coat, watching for dandruff or bald patches
- Checking eyes for redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- Examining your pet's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Looking at your pet's teeth for any indication of periodontal disease, damage or tooth decay
- Feeling along your pet's body (palpating) for signs of illness such as swelling, evidence of lameness such as limited range of motion, and signs of pain
- Palpate your pet's abdomen to access whether the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
All of these checks and more can be done quickly and seamlessly if no issues are detected along the way. Your vet will likely even maintain a conversation with you as they go along.
Annual vaccinations will also be given at your pet's wellness exam, based upon the appropriate schedule for your animal.
Additional wellness tests might be recommended
In addition to the general checks listed above, your veterinarian could also recommend additional wellness or diagnostic testing. This depends on the particulars of your pet's case, and when deciding whether or not to pursue additional remember that in many cases early detection and treatment of disease is less expensive and less invasive than treating the condition once it has reached more advanced stages.
The following tests screen for a range of conditions and can help detect the very earliest signs of disease, even 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 the examination is complete and your pet has been given their necessary vaccines, your veterinarian will discuss any findings or concerns with you.
If your vet has detected any signs of illness or injury, they will take the time to speak to you about more detailed diagnostics, or available treatment options.
If your animal is given a clean bill of health, your vet might offer tips or recommendations regarding your pet's diet and exercise routines, oral health, or appropriate parasite prevention.
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 vet's advice.