Routine wellness exams are like cat and dog checkups, they provide your vet with the opportunity to detect any diseases or illnesses early when they are easier to treat and to monitor their overall physical health. In this blog, our vets in Hoquiam discuss the importance of wellness exams and what you can expect at these appointments.

The Importance of Routine Exams

Your cat or dog's annual wellness exam is a vet 'check-up' for your pet. These checkups should occur one or two times a year, while your furry companion is still noticeably healthy.

Routine exams are one of the best ways to help your animal friend obtain life-long optimal health by making prevention and early disease detection the primary focus. By bringing your pet to the vet routinely, you are giving your veterinarian the chance to monitor the overall health of your pet and to look for diseases that can be hard to see in their earlier stages (such as cancers and parasites).

By treating diseases early you are giving your pet their best opportunity for good treatment outcomes. 

Wellness exams also give you and your vet the time to discuss valuable information about your pet's diet and exercise routines. Making sure your pet maintains a healthy weight and gets plenty of exercises are great ways to help your cat or dog live a long and healthy life. 

At  Raintree Veterinary Hospital we firmly believe that prevention is the best treatment option when it comes to your animal companion's health, so while you are at our veterinary office for your cat or dog's exam we will check to see if your pet's vaccines are up-to-date and that you know about the parasite prevention products available that can help your pet stay healthy.

Scheduling Your Pet's Routine Wellness Exam

The frequency you bring your pet to the vet for wellness exams depends on. their age, previous medical history, lifestyle, and breed risk for developing diseases. 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 make sure your pet stays as healthy as possible.

For adult pets that are in good health, we recommend a cat or dog exam once annually.

Animals that are very young or very old tend to be more susceptible to illness. If you have a new puppy or kitten it's 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 such as a giant breed dog that faces an increased risk of developing a disease, twice-yearly wellness exams are recommended. 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 worse.

What to Expect We You Attend a Wellness Exam for Your Pet

When you bring your cat or dog in to see us for their wellness exam your vet will review your pet's medical history and ask if there is anything about your furry companion's health or behavior that is worrying you. Your vet will also ask you about your pet's diet, lifestyle, exercise routine, level of thirst, and urination.

Many veterinarians ask pet owners to bring along a fresh sample of their pet's stool (bowel movement) in order to perform a fecal exam. 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
  • Listening to your animal's heart and lungs
  • Examining your pet's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
  • Taking a close look at your dog or cat's skin for issues such as dryness, parasites, or lumps
  • Looking at your pet's teeth for any indication of periodontal disease, damage or tooth decay
  • 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
  • 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 signs of illness such as swelling, evidence of lameness such as limited range of motion, and signs of pain

All of these checks and more can be done quickly and seamlessly as long as there is no issues found along the way. 

Your vet will also give your pet their annual vaccines depending on the appropriate schedule for your cat or dog. Vaccinations for puppies and kittens, as well as booster shots for adult dogs and cats, are an important part of giving your animal their very best chance at a long and happy life. Keeping your pet up to date on vaccines throughout their life will help keep them safe from a range of contagious, potentially serious, diseases and conditions.

Additional Wellness Testing Recommended for Some Pets

As well as the general checks listed above, your vet might also recommend additional wellness testing. When deciding whether your pet should have additional testing it's important to keep in mind that in many situations early detection and treatment of disease is less expensive and less invasive than treating a condition in it's advanced stages.

The following tests screen for a range of conditions and can help find the earliest signs of disease, even before symptoms develop:

  • Urinalysis
  • Complete blood count (CDC)
  • Thyroid hormone testing

If you have a senior pet or a giant breed dog, more detailed diagnostic testing could also be recommended such as X-rays and other imaging. When these additional tests are performed every year,  you get valuable information about your pet's health and the progression of any age-related diseases. This proactive approach to veterinary care can help your pet maintain comfortable mobility and good health into old age.

At The End of Your Pet's Routine Wellness Exam

After the examination is complete, and your pet has received the appropriate vaccinations, your vet will take the time to discuss any findings with you.

If your veterinarian has found any signs of illness or injury, they will take the time to discuss more detailed diagnostics or any available treatment options. 

If your dog or cat 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.

Weighing Up the Cost 

If you still think that taking your pet to the vet when they are healthy is too expensive you have to remeber that compared to treating advanced conditions, regularly scheduled wellness exams could save you lots of money. 

Not only this, but they will make sure your dog or cat experiences a minimal amount of discomfort or pain from any health issues they are experiencing. The sooner a medical issue is detected, the sooner it can be diagnosed and treated. Early treatment is the key to good outcomes.

Making routine wellness exams a win-win for you and your beloved 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.

Contact our Hoquiam vets today to schedule your cat or dog's routine wellness exam.