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Routine Vet Exams: Why Are Regular Dog & Cat Checkups Important?

Routine visits to our veterinary hospital allow us to monitor your pet and help keep them healthy. Here, our vets in Egg Harbor Township discuss the importance of routine vet exams and what to expect during your cat or dog's checkup.

Why are routine dog and cat checkups so important?

Your pet should be seen for a routine physical exam by your veterinarian, even if the animal seems perfectly healthy. Regular wellness checkups help you and your vet team support your pet's good health and happiness.

These checkups allow your veterinarian the opportunity to assess your pet's general health and test for diseases, illnesses, and conditions that can be hard to spot early on (including cancers and parasites). 

Early intervention can even help to thwart serious medical issues. During the checkup, your vet has two goals: to prevent health conditions from developing where possible and to spot early signs of disease so that they can be treated before they develop into more severe issues.

How Often Your Pet Should Have a Veterinary Checkup

Since a puppy or kitten's immune system is still developing, young pets can be more susceptible to some illnesses that adult pets are easily able to overcome. To provide your young pet with the care they need during their formative months, your vet might recommend booking a monthly checkup for the first year or so. 

Usually, an adult dog or cat with no history of illness should be taken to a vet checkup every year. Pets like senior dogs or cats and giant breed dogs can face an increased risk of additional conditions and should see a veterinarian more often to monitor for early signs of illness. In these cases, it's a good idea to bring your pet in for twice-yearly cat or dog checkups. 

Preparing for Your Dog or Cat's Checkup in Egg Harbor Township

During your pet's first wellness checkup, we will ask for any information that may help us to better understand their health and any issues that they may be having. Some of the notes that you should bring include:

  • Recent travel history
  • Past medical records
  • Eating and drinking habits
  • Current medications (names & doses)
  • Vaccine history
  • Tick bite history
  • Food (type & amount)
  • Waste elimination habits

What happens during an annual dog or cat examination?

When the checkup begins, the vet will first discuss the medical history of your pet to gain a better idea of their overall health and past issues. You will also have the opportunity to discuss any concerns that you may have. The vet will further follow up with questions about your pet like their:

  • Diet
  • Exercise routine
  • Thirst level
  • Bowel movements
  • Urination
  • Lifestyle
  • Behavior

Occasionally, your vet may request that you collect a fresh stool sample from your pet and bring it with you to the appointment. This will allow your vet to perform a fecal exam. These diagnostic tests can help to identify whether problematic intestinal parasites are present which may be otherwise difficult to detect.

At this time the physical examination will begin. While this is not an exhaustive list, these are some of the steps in a routine veterinary exam of your pet:

  • Measuring their gait, stance, and weight
  • Listening to your pet’s lungs and heart with a stethoscope
  • Checking the eyelids for any issues, in addition to examining their eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, cloudiness, or redness
  • Assessing your pet for any signs of illness such as limited motion or signs of swelling or pain by palpating (feeling along) their body.
  • Feeling the abdomen to check internal organ function and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
  • Examining your pet's nails and feet for signs of health issues or conditions
  • Checking inside your pet’s ears for signs of wax buildup, polyps, ear mites, or bacterial infection
  • Inspecting their teeth for signs of decay, damage, or periodontal disease
  • Examining your pet's fur, skin, and/or coat to assess overall condition, as well as look for signs of abnormal hair loss, dandruff, unusual lumps, or bumps

For healthy adult cats and dogs, this exam should only take a short time. You may even be able to discuss the exam with the vet as it happens. If an issue is identified, your vet will explain what they have noticed and recommend the next steps or potential treatments for your pet.

Annual vaccinations are also administered during a cat or dog checkup, based on your animal’s appropriate schedule.

Diagnostic Testing for Routine Examinations

During this routine visit your vet may also request that your dog or cat have additional diagnostic testing. Remember that in the majority of cases, early detection and treatment of serious diseases is less expensive, less invasive, and less taxing on your pet than having the condition treated once it has become more advanced.

Tests for blood count, thyroid hormone testing, and a urinalysis may be done in addition to diagnostic testing like X-rays and imaging.

What to Expect After the Exam

Once the examination, diagnostics and preventive care are complete, your vet will sit down with you to discuss any findings and if necessary, the next steps for your pet's care.

If your vet has found signs of injury, illness, or current or potential conditions, they will recommend more detailed diagnostics or potential treatment options to help. For pets that are generally healthy, this discussion may focus on improvements to or maintenance of their current 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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is it time for your dog or cat to have their routine examination and preventive care? Contact our vets in Egg Harbor Township today to schedule an appointment.

Always Welcoming New Patients

At Newkirk Family Veterinarians, we always accept new patients into our veterinary family. Our veterinarians are passionate about the health and well-being of Egg Harbor Township pets. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment. 

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