Regular vet checkups - or wellness exams - are important for your pet's health because it allows your vet to track any changes in your pet's health, check for early signs of disease and provide preventative care for potentially life-threatening issues.
Why book a checkup if my pet seems healthy?
Preventive care is about maintaining your dog or cat's health, and providing the care so they can live the happiest and healthiest life possible. The key to good preventative care is routine wellness exams scheduled to fit the needs of your pet. Typically they are scheduled once or twice per year.
By bringing your dog or cat to a checkup you give your team of veterinary professionals an opportunity to track 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 sooner and start to ease any discomfort your pet might be feeling.
How often should I need to bring my pet in for a checkup?
Our Albany vets recommend bringing your cat or dog in for annual exams. However, every pet has different needs - especially as they get older. 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 sensitive to health conditions that are more 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 ensure they can thrive in this sensitive period of their life, (every month for puppies and kittens under a year old). For geriatric pets, we recommend twice a year or more.
What's involved in a vet checkup for dogs and cats?
When you bring your pet to our Albany animal hospital for a checkup, our vets 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 in order to do a fecal exam. We will take that sample and examine it for signs of 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
- Examining the condition of your pet's teeth for any indications of periodontal disease, damage or decay
- Looking at your pet's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Looking at your pet's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
- Inspecting the pet's coat for overall condition, dandruff, or abnormal hair loss
- Checking your pet's eyes for signs of redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- 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
These tests are meant to detect signs of health problems your cat or dog could be experiencing. Since our dogs and cats can't tell us when they are uncomfortable, these tests and checks help to determine how your beloved pet is generally feeling.
What about getting my pet their shots?
Vaccines are designed to protect your dog or cat against common, contagious, and potentially life-threatening diseases. The lifestyle your cat or dog lives will determine what vaccines your vet will recommend.
Core vaccines for dogs and cats are recommended for all pets, whereas lifestyle vaccines are most often recommended for pets that are regularly in contact with other animals. To learn more about the vaccines recommended for your pet checkout our vaccine schedule.
Adult pets will need to be provided with 'booster shots' on a regular basis in order to maintain protection against the diseases they've been vaccinated for. In most cases boosters are given annually or once every three years. Your vet will be sure to let you know when your dog or cat's booster shots are due.
Does my pet really need parasite prevention?
Parasites are a real health threat to Albany pets. Ticks and mosquitos carry parasites that can invade your pet's body and cause potentially fatal conditions, that's why our Albany vets 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 owners!
Parasite prevention can help to protect your pet from conditions such as:
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Is preventive care expensive?
When you compare the cost of treating advanced disorders or diseases (especially heartworm), preventative care in the form of regular wellness checkups will save you money.
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. The sooner a medical issue is detected, the sooner it can be diagnosed and treated.
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.