Regular veterinary checkups can help your pet maintain their physical health. Your veterinarian will perform these routine exams to look for early signs of illness, internal damage and other serious conditions. Our Franklin vets explain why checkups are important.
Why are routine vet checkups important?
While your animal appears to be completely healthy, your veterinarian will perform a vet wellness checkup or routine physical exam. These wellness checkups should be booked once or twice each year to help your pet maintain their ideal health.
By taking your healthy pet to see the vet regularly, you give your veterinarian the opportunity to assess your pet's overall health and test for diseases that can be challenging to identify in the early stages (such as cancers or parasites).
These conditions should be treated as early as possible. During your pet's routine wellness checkup, the veterinarian has two purposes: to prevent conditions when possible and detect early symptoms of disease so that they can be treated before they develop into more serious conditions.
How often should my pet come in for a vet checkup?
How often your pet should visit a veterinarian for a checkup depends on your animal's age and previous medical history.
If your pet has a history of illness but is currently healthy, we recommend scheduling an appointment at your vet's office twice a year or more to ensure your four-legged friend remains as healthy as possible. Your vet can tel you how often your pet should see him or her for a physical exam.
Since puppies' and kittens' immune systems are developing, they can be particularly vulnerable to many illnesses that adult pets can easily fight off. This is why your vet may recommend scheduling a monthly checkup for the first few months.
Usually, an adult dog or cat with no history of illness should see us annually for a vet checkup. However, some pets such as senior dogs and cats, along with giant breed dogs, face a higher risk of many conditions and should visit a veterinarian more often to monitor for early signs of illness. In these cases, it would be a good idea for your dog or cat to come for a checkup twice a year.
How to Prepare
Your vet will require some updated, basic information about your canine or feline friend, especially if this is a first visit. Bring notes on your pet's:
- Food (what kind do they eat)
- Current medications (names and doses)
- Past medical records, including vaccine history
- Eating and drinking habits
- Recent tick bites or travel history
- Toilet habits
You may also want to bring your pet's favorite toys or a blanket for comfort. While cats should be in a carrier, dogs should be on a leash.
What does a checkup for pets involve?
When you take your pet to the veterinarian, your animal’s medical history will be reviewed and your vet will ask if you have any concerns. They will also ask about your pet’s diet, exercise routine, thirst level, bowel movements, urination and other aspects of their lifestyle and general behavior.
In some cases, you’ll be asked to collect and bring along a fresh sample of your pet’s feces (bowel movement) so a fecal exam can be completed. These exams help to identify whether any number of problematic intestinal parasites are present. These parasites may otherwise be difficult to detect.
Next, the vet will physically examine your pet. While this will usually cover the following points, the vet may take time to do more depending on your pet’s needs:
- Measuring your pet’s gait, stance and weight
- 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
- Feeling the abdomen to check whether internal organs appear normal, and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
- Checking your pet’s nails and feet for signs of significant health concerns or damage
- Using a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s lungs and heart
- Inspecting your cat’s or dog’s skin for numerous issues — from bumps or lumps (especially in folds of skin) to dryness and parasites
- Examining your pet’s ears for signs of wax buildup, polyps, ear mites or bacterial infection
- Inspecting the condition of the teeth for any indications of decay, damage or periodontal disease
- Examining your furry companion’s coat to assess overall condition, as well as look for signs of abnormal hair loss or dandruff
- Looking into the eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, cloudiness or redness. Will also look for issues with eyelids
If no issues are detected along the way, your vet can likely run through this list quickly and seamlessly — they may even chat with you as they do so. If an issue is identified, your vet will explain what they have noticed and recommend next steps or potential 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
Along with the basic checkup exam points we list above, the vet may also recommend additional wellness testing. Remember that in many cases, early detection and treatment of disease is less expensive and less invasive than having the condition treated once it has become more advanced.
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
Once your pet has been examined, tested and given their annual vaccines, your vet will dedicate time to explaining their findings to you.
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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.