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Please ensure that your pet is either in a travel crate or on a leash before bringing them to their appointment.

Routine Vet Exams - Why Are Regular Veterinary Checkups Important?

Regular veterinary checkups are essential for your pet's health and well-being. During these checkups, the veterinarian will examine your pet thoroughly to detect any signs of illness, internal health issues, and other serious conditions that may require immediate attention. Our vets in Jackson explain why it is crucial to schedule regular checkups for your furry friend.

Why are routine vet checkups important?

It's important to book a routine physical exam with your veterinarian for your pet once or twice a year, even if they appear to be perfectly healthy. These wellness checkups help your pet achieve and maintain their ideal health.

By taking your healthy pet to visit the veterinarian regularly, you allow them to assess your pet's general health and well-being, test for illnesses and diseases, and identify conditions that respond best to treatments in their earliest stages.

During the checkup, your veterinarian has two goals: to prevent health conditions from developing where possible and to detect early symptoms of diseases so they can be treated before they develop into more serious problems.

How often should my pet attend a vet checkup?

It is important to note that your pet's medical history and age will determine how often you should visit the vet. If your pet has a history of illness but is currently in good health, it is recommended to schedule a veterinary appointment twice a year or more to ensure that your pet stays healthy. Your vet can examine your pet and provide you with guidance on how often they should have a physical exam.

Since puppies' and kittens' immune systems are still developing, young pets may be especially susceptible to illnesses that adult pets can easily overcome. Because of this, your vet may recommend you book a monthly checkup for your puppy or kitten during their first few months.

It's recommended to take an adult dog or cat for a vet checkup on a yearly basis, provided they have no history of illness. However, senior dogs and cats, as well as giant breed dogs, have a higher risk of developing various conditions. Therefore, it's advisable to monitor them more closely and bring them in for a checkup twice a year. This way, any early signs of illness can be detected and treated promptly.

How to Prepare

Your veterinarian will require some basic medical information about your dog or cat, particularly if it's their first visit. Make sure to bring notes about your pet's:

  • Tick bites
  • Eating and drinking habits
  • Toilet habits
  • Current medications (names and doses)
  • Recent travel history
  • Past medical records, including vaccine history
  • Food (what kind do they eat)

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 the veterinarian, the vet will review your pet's medical history and inquire about any health concerns you may have. They will also ask about your pet's diet, exercise routine, bowel movements, urination schedule, and any other relevant aspects of their life or behavior.

In some cases, you may be asked to bring fresh samples of your pet's feces so that a parasite screening test can be conducted. These tests are important in identifying any problematic parasites that would otherwise be difficult to detect.

Next, the vet will perform a physical examination of your pet. The exam will typically cover the following points, although the vet may take additional time depending on your pet's needs:

  • Using a stethoscope to listen to your pet's lungs and heart
  • Checking your pet's nails and feet for signs of significant health concerns or damage
  • Inspecting your cat's or dog's skin for numerous issues — from bumps or lumps (especially in folds of skin) to dryness and parasites
  • Look into the eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, cloudiness, or redness. Will also look for issues with eyelids
  • Feeling the abdomen to check whether internal organs appear normal and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
  • Examining your pet's ears for signs of wax buildup, polyps, ear mites or bacterial infection
  • Examining your furry companion's coat to assess overall condition, as well as look for signs of abnormal hair loss or dandruff
  • Inspecting the condition of the teeth for any indications of decay, damage, or periodontal disease
  • Check 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
  • Measuring your pet's gait, stance, and weight

If everything goes smoothly, your vet can quickly go through this checklist without any problems - they may even have a conversation with you while doing so. However, if they notice any issues, your vet will inform you of their findings and suggest the next steps or possible treatments.

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 regular checkup exams and tests, your veterinarian may suggest additional wellness testing for your furry friend. It's important to keep in mind that detecting and treating a disease or health problem early on is often more cost-effective and less invasive than waiting until the condition has advanced to a more serious 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

After your pet has undergone a thorough examination, tested, and received its annual vaccines, your vet will take the time to explain their findings to you.

If the veterinarian detects any signs of injury or illness, they may recommend further diagnostic tests or potential treatment options.

However, if your pet is healthy overall, the discussion may focus on ways to improve their exercise and diet routines, methods to take care of your pet's oral hygiene, and ensuring that essential measures such as appropriate parasite prevention are being followed.

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. 

Is it time for your dog or cat's routine veterinary checkup? Contact North Madison Animal Hospital today to book the procedure and to ask any questions you might have.

New Patients Welcome

North Madison Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of all companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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