The Importance of Vet Checkups
If your cat or dog appears to be perfectly healthy, you might be wondering why you'd bother booking an appointment with your vet. However, when it comes to preserving your pet's good health long-term, annual exams are essential.
Taking your four-legged friend to the vet even when they seem healthy offers your vet the chance to check in on your pet's health, administer essential care such as routine vaccines and parasite prevention and identify any emerging health issues so they can be treated early, before they become more serious concerns.
In this post, we'll explain what your vet will do when you take your dog or cat in for their wellness exam.
What to Expect at Your Pet's Exam
A vet checkup is similar to the annual physical checkups that people go to their family doctor for. Your pet's age and general health will determine the types of tests, checks and vaccines administered at each exam.
Your Pet's First Vet Visit
Puppies and kittens should visit the vet for the first time when they are about eight weeks old. At this initial visit, your new furry friend will receive a complete physical examination to take stock of their overall health, look for external parasites and check for any signs of congenital defects.
Your vet will administer deworming medications to eliminate any potential hookworms, tapeworms and roundworms, in addition to your pet's first vaccinations. For kittens, a blood test will be done to check for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.
5 — 6 Month Booster Shots, Spay & Neuter Procedure & Microchipping
In their first year of life, your cat or dog will need to see the vet periodically for wellness exams and to receive their vaccines.
These checkups typically happen at around 12 weeks and 16 weeks of age. Your cat will need all three rounds of Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia, Chlamydia, Feline Leukemia and Rabies vaccines to be protected against these diseases. Puppies will need vaccinations and boosters for DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus), Rabies and Leptospirosis.
Our vets recommend you have your puppy or kitten spayed or neutered when they are around five to six months old. These common reproductive surgeries help to reduce the number of homeless cats and unwanted puppies in shelters throughout the Richmond area, and can prevent a range of serious conditions, including certain types of cancers.
You may also consider having your kitten or puppy microchipped at this age. In case your pet runs away, or is lost or stolen, a microchip can increase your chances of being reunited with your beloved feline or canine companion.
What Your Veterinarian Does During Your Pet's Annual Exam
When you bring your pet in for their yearly checkup, your vet at Broad Street Veterinary Hospital will review your cat or dog's medical history with you and ask whether you have concerns about your animal's health or behavior. Your pet's lifestyle, level of thirst, bathroom habits and diets will also be discussed.
You may also be asked to bring along a fresh sample of your pet's feces (bowel movement) so your veterinarian can check for intestinal parasites.
Finally, your veterinarian will conduct a full physical examination for your pet. This typically includes:
- Checking your pet's stance and gait for abnormalities
- Listening to the heart and lungs
- Examining feet and nails for damage or symptoms of more serious health conditions
- Weighing your pet
- Inspecting your pet's coat and skin, looking for dermatological issues, bald patches or dandruff
- Palpate your cat or dog's abdomen to find out whether internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
- Feeling along the body (palpating) for signs of illness such as pain, swelling, limited range of motion or evidence of lameness
- Checking ears for signs of ear mites, wax build-up, polyps, or signs of bacterial infection
- Inspecting your cat or dog's teeth for signs of tooth decay, damage or periodontal disease
If no issues are identified along the way, all of these checks can be completed quickly and seamlessly. Your vet will likely even chat with you as they perform the exam.
The veterinarian will also administer annual vaccinations at your pet's wellness exam, based on your pet's schedule.
Vet Checkups for Senior Cats & Dogs
Proactive preventive veterinary care is critical to helping pets of all ages (especially seniors) live long, healthy and happy lives.
For senior dogs and cats, wellness exams allow your veterinarian the opportunity to detect health issues in their early stages and present proactive treatment options to keep your pooch or kitty comfortable and slow the progression of age-related conditions.
Common age-related health issues in elderly animals include heart disease, degeneration of hearing and sight, osteoarthritis, orthopedic issues, kidney and liver disease and urinary issues.
When your senior pet sees our Richmond vets for their geriatric wellness exam, we'll conduct all the routine checks we do for adult pets but also closely examine your pet for signs of emerging age-related health conditions. Additional diagnostic testing may be recommended based on your vet's findings.
Don't Forget to Book Your Pet's Yearly Checkup
When it comes to making sure your pet is cared for no matter their age or stage in life, annual exams offer your four-legged friend their very best chance at a long, healthy life. Speak to your vet to find out how often your pet should have a checkup.
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.