Every pet parent knows that the most important thing is your pet's health and happiness. One of the ways that you can ensure this is with routine exams and preventive care. In today's blog, our Charlotte vets talk about what makes dog and cat checkups important and what you can expect at these routine visits.
Why should I book a dog checkup or cat checkup if my pet seems healthy?
Preventive care is about maintaining your pet's good health and providing the care they need to give them their best possible chance at living a long and healthy life. Preventive care for pets starts with routine wellness exams either annually or twice yearly depending on the needs of your dog or cat.
These routine exams are vet checkups for your beloved four-legged friend.
By bringing your dog or cat in to see the vet, even when they seem perfectly healthy, you allow your team of veterinary professionals to monitor your pet's health, check for the earliest signs of diseases, and provide preventive care such as vaccines and parasite prevention to keep your dog or cat looking and feeling they're very best.
Catching health issues including parasites, ear infections, or gastrointestinal issues early, before obvious symptoms appear, means that treatment can begin early when it is most effective.
How often should I bring my pet in for a checkup?
Our vets recommend annual checkups for most dogs and cats. However, each pet is different and has different needs - especially as they age. This is why the frequency of your pet's checkups will depend on the age and medical history of your dog or cat.
Puppies and kittens can be susceptible to health conditions that are easily resisted by adult pets. This is likewise true for senior or geriatric pets. You should bring your puppy/kitten in for a checkup much more frequently to give them the very best start in life, (every month for puppies and kittens under a year old). For geriatric pets, twice a year or more if needed is recommended.
What's involved in a vet checkup for dogs and cats?
When you bring your fur baby into our Charlotte animal clinic for a vet checkup, our veterinary professionals will review their medical history and ask you about any specific concerns you might have.
In some instances, we will have asked you to bring in a sample of your pet's stool to do a fecal exam. We will take that sample and examine it for signs of common intestinal parasites which would be very difficult to detect otherwise.
After these initial steps, your veterinarian will perform a physical checkup of your pet which will usually include any or all of the following:
- Listening to your pet's heart and lungs
- Checking your animal's weight, stance, and gait
- Checking your pet's eyes for signs of redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- Inspecting the pet's coat for overall condition, dandruff, or abnormal hair loss
- Looking at your pet's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
- Looking at your pet's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Examining the condition of your pet's teeth for any indications of periodontal disease, damage or decay
- Examining your dog or cat's skin for a range of issues from dryness to parasites to lumps and bumps (particularly in skin folds)
- 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 any signs of illness such as swelling, evidence of lameness such as limited range of motion, and signs of pain
Dogs and cats don't have the same ability to vocally express their pain or discomfort as we do so it is important to pay attention to any signs that they may be showing that something may be wrong.
What about getting my pet their shots?
Vaccines are designed to protect your dog or cat against common, contagious, and potentially life-threatening diseases. Your vet will recommend vaccines based on the lifestyle of your pet and where you reside.
Your vet will offer a number of core vaccines that are used to protect your pet against the usual concerns while they may recommend others that are suited for pets exposed to certain situations, which are known as lifestyle vaccines. To learn more about the vaccines recommended for your pet check out our vaccine schedule.
Adult pets will need to be provided with 'booster shots' regularly to maintain their protection against disease. In most cases, boosters are given annually or once every three years. Your vet will inform you of when your dog or cat will be in need of their next round of vaccines.
Does my pet need parasite prevention?
Parasites are a real health threat to Charlotte pets. Ticks and mosquitos carry parasites that can invade your pet's body and cause potentially fatal conditions, that's why your vet will recommend ways to prevent parasites from invading your four-legged friend. It's also important to know that some of these parasites can be passed from pets to their loving owners!
Parasite prevention can help to protect your pet from conditions such as:
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Is preventive care expensive?
Compared to treating advanced forms of conditions, disorders or diseases, (especially heartworm) regularly scheduled wellness exams and care can help prevent serious diseases from having serious complications by treating them as soon as the first signs appear making it more affordable.
Not only that, but they will make sure your pet experiences a minimal amount of discomfort or pain from any health issues they are experiencing. Treating conditions at the first sign is better for both you and your pet.
Wellness Plans at Providence Animal Hospital to Make Preventive Care More Affordable
At Providence Animal Hospital we offer a range of Pet Wellness Plans to help make the cost of routine pet care more manageable by breaking the cost of standard care into equal monthly payments. Please contact our vets in Charlotte to learn more.
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.