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Routine Vet Exams - Why Are Regular Veterinary Checkups Important?

In this blog post, our veterinarians in South Wilton discuss the significance of regular veterinary exams and checkups.

Why are routine vet checkups important?

Book a routine physical exam for your pet with your veterinarian once or twice a year, regardless of their apparent health. These checkups help your pet attain and maintain optimal health.

Regular visits to your veterinarian for your healthy pet allow them to assess your pet's overall health, conduct illness and disease screenings, and identify conditions that respond best to early treatments.

During the checkup, your vet aims to both prevent potential health issues and detect early signs of diseases for prompt treatment, preventing them from progressing into more serious problems.

How often should my pet attend a vet checkup?

Your vet will base the frequency of your pet's visits on their medical history and age.

If your cat, dog, or other animal has a history of illness but is currently healthy, we recommend scheduling appointments with your vet twice a year or more to maintain your pet's optimal health. Your vet will conduct thorough examinations and guide the appropriate frequency for physical exams.

Young pets, such as puppies and kittens, develop immune systems, making them more susceptible to illnesses that adult pets can easily overcome. Consequently, your vet may advise monthly checkups during their initial months.

Adult dogs and cats with no prior illness should undergo an annual vet checkup. However, pets like senior dogs, senior cats, and giant breed dogs have an increased risk of various conditions. In such cases, scheduling biannual cat or dog checkups is advisable to monitor early signs of illness.

How to Prepare

Your vet will need basic medical information about your canine or feline companion, especially if this is your pet's first visit. Bring notes on the next about your pet:

  • 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 bring your pet to the veterinarian, the vet will review your animal's medical history and discuss any concerns you have about their health. Additionally, they will inquire about your pet's diet, exercise routine, bowel movements, urination schedule, and other relevant aspects of their life and general behavior.

Sometimes, you may need to collect and provide fresh samples of your pet's feces for a parasite screening test. These tests help determine whether your pet is dealing with problematic parasites that may be challenging to detect otherwise.

Next, the vet will conduct a physical examination of your pet. While this typically covers the following points, the vet may spend more time depending on your pet's specific 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
  • Looking into the eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, cloudiness, or redness. I 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
  • Checking 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 your vet doesn't detect any issues along the way, they can quickly and seamlessly go through this list and may even chat with you. If they identify an issue, they will explain what they have noticed and recommend the next steps or potential treatments.

Your cat or dog will also receive annual vaccinations following the appropriate schedule during their checkup.

Additional Wellness Testing Recommended for Pets

Your vet may recommend additional wellness testing for your pet alongside essential checkup exams and tests.

Keep in mind that early detection and treatment of a disease or health issue are often more cost-effective and less invasive than treating the condition in its advanced stage.

These tests may include blood count, thyroid hormone testing, urinalysis, as well as diagnostic procedures like X-rays and imaging.

Ending the Vet Checkup

Once your pet has been examined, tested, and given its annual vaccines, your vet will dedicate time to explaining their findings.

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. 

Is it time for your dog or cat's routine veterinary checkup? Contact South Wilton Veterinary Group today to book the procedure and to ask any questions you might have.

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