The Importance of Regular Checkups for Pets

June 13, 2024

Nearly half of pet owners have had to take their pets to the emergency clinic at some point. 

Many of these visits are the result of unexpected accidents — but more often than not, the medical issues that lead to these emergency appointments could have been detected early on through routine checkups with the pets’ veterinarians.

Let’s talk about how you can help ensure the health and longevity of your pet with regularly scheduled veterinary checkups.

 

Early Detection of Health Issues

A routine veterinary checkup, often referred to as a wellness exam, is a comprehensive assessment of your pet's overall health.

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During these appointments, your veterinarian will perform various examinations and procedures to make sure that your pet is healthy and to catch any potential issues early on. Here’s what typically happens during a routine checkup:

 

Physical Examination

During the physical examination, your vet will assess the following aspects of your pet’s health:

  • Weight and Vital Signs: Checking your pet’s weight, temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate

  • Body Condition: Assessing your pet's body condition score (BCS) to evaluate whether they’re underweight, overweight, or at an ideal weight

  • Coat and Skin: Examining your pet’s skin and coat for signs of allergies, parasites, infections, or any other dermatological issues

  • Eyes and Ears: Inspecting the eyes for clarity and signs of infection or disease, and examining the ears for cleanliness and signs of infection or mites

  • Mouth and Teeth: Checking your pet’s teeth and gums for tartar, plaque, gingivitis, and other dental issues

  • Lymph Nodes and Thyroid: Checking the lymph nodes and the thyroid gland to determine whether there’s enlargement or other abnormalities

  • Heart and Lungs: Listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope to detect any abnormal sounds like murmurs or irregular rhythms and to make sure there’s normal respiratory function

  • Abdomen: Feeling the abdomen to check for organ size, the presence of any masses, or if there’s any discomfort

  • Musculoskeletal System: Assessing your pet's muscles and joints for signs of pain, swelling, or arthritis

 

Diagnostic Testing

Your veterinarian will also conduct diagnostic testing to get a well-rounded view of the current status of your pet’s health. This will include tests like:

  • Blood Work: Checking for issues like anemia, infection, diabetes, and whether the kidney and liver are functioning properly

  • Urinalysis: Testing the urine to assess the health of the kidneys and to check for urinary tract infections

  • Fecal Exam: Analyzing your pet’s stool sample to check for intestinal parasites or other issues

  • X-rays or Ultrasound: Performing imaging tests if there are concerns about internal organs or bone issues or to investigate any other specific symptoms

 

The Importance of Preventive Care

It’s true that early detection of health issues can prevent more severe problems later on — but another excellent method of enhancing your pet’s health is through preventative care. This can include things like:

  • Vaccinations: Administering any necessary vaccinations based on your pet's age, health status, and lifestyle

  • Parasite Control: Providing treatments for fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites

  • Dental Cleaning: Scheduling regular professional dental cleanings, especially if there are signs of dental disease or gum irritation

 

Monitoring Age-Related Changes

As your pet ages, they’ll require different care than when they were babies. Senior pets often require more frequent visits to the vet, especially since they’re prone to mobility issues, common diseases associated with old age, and cognitive decline.

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Implementing a regular schedule for visiting your veterinarian helps ensure the quality of life for your pet remains as high as possible.

 

Nutrition and Weight Management

Your veterinarian can also help you implement a diet plan and manage a healthy weight for your pet. In your regular pet wellness exams, your veterinarian will monitor your pet’s weight and recommend appropriate good and nutrition supplements.

Often, health issues arise from an improper diet or lack of vitamins and nutrients. With a regularly scheduled wellness exam, you’ll be able to combat these issues before they become serious.

 

Assessing Changes in Your Pet’s Behavior

Talk to your veterinarian about any changes you notice in your pet’s behavior. Addressing behavioral problems early on can help you catch any mental health issues and get treatment started if there are signs of cognitive decline.

Your veterinarian can suggest mental stimulation exercises for your pet and assess whether the changes in their behavior are due to acute issues or more chronic ailments.

 

A Happy Pet Begins With You

Routine veterinary check-up exams are an essential part of keeping your pet healthy and happy. With regular checkups, your veterinarian will be able to build a relationship with your pet, help prevent serious infections and diseases, and catch other health issues early on.

If you haven’t already started a consistent check-up routine for your pet, now is the perfect time. Schedule your appointment today at our office and put your pet on the path to a long, happy, and healthy life!

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