By taking your pet to the vet for routine exams (checkups), you are giving your veterinarian the chance to find and treat any developing illnesses or diseases in their earliest stages. In this post, our Goleta vets explain why preventive care and routine exams are important for cats and dogs and what you can expect at your pet's checkups.
Why Cat & Dog Checkups Are Important
Preventive care is about maintaining your pet's good health and providing them with the care they need to have their best possible chance at 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 furry companion.
By bringing your dog or cat in to see the vet, even when they seem perfectly healthy, you give your team of veterinary professionals an opportunity 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 Pets Should See The Vet 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 their medical history and age.
Puppies and kittens can be susceptible to health conditions that are easily resisted by adult pets. This is also true for geriatric pets. You should bring your puppy/kitten in for a checkup much more frequently to give them the very best start in life, (once a month for puppies and kittens under a year old). For senior pets, we recommend two veterinary appointments a year.
What To Expect at Your Cat or Dog's Routine Exam
When you bring your cat or dog to our Goleta animal hospital for a routine exam, our vets will go over your pet's medical history and ask you about any specific concerns you might have.
Sometimes, you may be asked to bring in a sample of your pet's stool so a fecal exam can be conducted. 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:
- Checking your pet's eyes for signs of redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- Looking at your pet's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Listening to your pet's heart and lungs
- Checking your animal's weight, stance, and gait
- Palpate your pet's abdomen to access whether the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
- Examining your dog or cat's skin for a range of issues from dryness to parasites to lumps and bumps (particularly in skin folds)
- 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
- 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
- Examining the condition of your pet's teeth for any indications of periodontal disease, damage, or decay
All of these tests are meant to detect signs of any health problems your pet may be experiencing. Since our dogs and cats can't tell us when they are uncomfortable, these tests and checks help to determine how your furry friend is generally feeling.
Cat & Dog Vaccinations
Vaccines are designed to protect your dog or cat against common, contagious, and potentially life-threatening diseases. The vaccines recommended for your dog or cat will be based on where you live and your pet's lifestyle.
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. For more information about the vaccines that may be recommended for your pet, see our vaccination schedule.
Adult cats and dogs will have to be given booster shots on a routine basis in order to maintain their protection against common illnesses and diseases. Most of the time, 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.
The Importance of Parasite Prevention
Parasites are a real health threat to Goleta 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 for your cat or dog can help protect them from these conditions:
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
The Cost of Your Pet's Routine Care
Compared to treating advanced forms of conditions, disorders, or diseases, regularly scheduled wellness exams will save you money.
Not only that, but they will make sure your pet experiences minimal 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.