You may be used to taking your children to the doctor for wellness checkups—you may even go yourself. But did you know that your dog or cat needs that same type of care?
Young pets, like puppies or kittens, need to be monitored frequently to make sure they are developing properly. But even after pets have grown beyond babyhood, they still need regular doctor’s visits.
Veterinarians suggest bringing pets in for a wellness exam twice a year. Pets, like dogs and cats, age faster than humans. By having frequent exams, any problems during this aging process are likely to be detected early and can often be managed or treated more successfully.
What to Expect in an Exam
Pets can’t tell us how they feel, so vets have to use a combination of questions for the owner, observations and tests to assess the health of your animal.
During the exam, the vet will ask you a variety of questions. What does your pet eat? How much? How many times per day? What type of exercise does he get? What is his temperament and has he shown any changes recently?
The vet will examine your pet for energy level, body condition (healthy coat, clear eyes, etc.).
Your pet may undergo routine tests for heartworms or intestinal parasites. For older pets, the vet may suggest an x-ray to see how the heart, lungs and kidneys are functioning
A dental exam is an important part of the checkup. More than 66% of dogs over the age of three have gum inflammation that, untreated, can affect your pet’s ability to chew. That can ultimately hurt your dog’s health. The dental exam can uncover and address other issues for cats and dogs including tartar or plaque buildup, bad breath, broken teeth and gum or tooth infections.
Once the exam is complete, the vet will make recommendations for your pet’s health. The vet may suggest certain immunizations, a diet or exercise program, behavior training, or treatment to address any problems.
Your Role in Your Pet’s Exam
When you’re preparing to bring your pet in for a wellness exam, take some time to develop questions for the vet. Should you change your cat’s diet, now that she is getting older? What table scraps are okay for your dog, and which ones should you avoid? Does your pet need gluten-free food? How often should you brush your pet’s teeth? What’s the best way to avoid fleas and ticks on your pet?
Biannual exams are the perfect time for you and your vet to review and plan the care for your pet. By partnering with your veterinarian every six months, you give your pet the best chance of living a long, healthy life.