What to Expect at a Pet Annual Wellness Visit

April 10, 2023

Annual wellness visits are essential to helping your pet have the best quality of life possible. The preventative care offered during a pet wellness exam at Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic helps to keep pets healthier, happier, and more comfortable. Regular pet checkups also allow veterinarians to diagnose problems earlier when they are less significant and usually more treatable. 


What Is a Pet Annual Wellness Exam? 

Wellness exams are an important tool in the pet healthcare toolkit. Unlike emergency visits, pet wellness exams focus on evaluating and sometimes improving a pet’s overall health and quality of life.  

Annual pet checkups allow South Charlotte pet owners and veterinarians to work together to manage ongoing concerns and monitor for potential issues. While going to the vet may not be a pet’s idea of a good time, a little preventative care can go a long way in keeping them healthier and happier throughout their lives.


What Does a Pet Wellness Visit Include?

Pet wellness visit-rawpixel-260899Pet wellness exams have a lot of moving parts. Because pets can’t tell their doctors how they feel, veterinarians must be thorough during pet checkups. 

Most vets will start by reviewing a pet’s records and medical history with their owner. They will also ask questions about the pet’s overall health, behavior, and any concerns the owner might have. 

Once the first round of discussion is over, the vet will conduct a detailed physical examination to assess a pet’s overall health. During this portion of the exam, the vet will:

  • Check weight and temperature
  • Look at eyes and ears for signs of chronic changes, disease, or other concerns
  • Watch the pet’s gait and standing stance and assess long bones and joints for symptoms of pain or decreased mobility
  • Examine skin and coat condition
  • Assess oral health and dental hygiene
  • Palpate, or feel, the abdomen to check internal organs
  • Auscult, or listen to, the heart and lungs to assess their overall health

The vet will recommend diagnostic testing, vaccines, and medications during the visit based on the discussion and physical exam results. These usually include:  

  • Vaccine updates
  • Blood testing
  • Fecal exam 
  • Medication refills 
  • Imaging tests 
  • Urinalysis

Before leaving, the vet and the pet owner should discuss any concerns and health goals and then make a plan to address them. This plan may involve follow-up appointments for procedures that can’t be done immediately or may become necessary once the results of the lab tests are available.


How to Prepare for a Pet Wellness Visit

There is a lot to accomplish during a pet wellness visit, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. But there are some simple steps pet owners can take to make the process less stressful and more impactful. 


Gather Documentation

Bring (or send over prior to the visit) all medical records detailing past care at other veterinary facilities. Proving these records helps prevent duplication of tests and care, saving pet owners time and money and preventing additional stress for pets.

It can also be helpful to make a list of a pet’s current food, treats, medication, and supplements. Don’t forget to include dosage information. A quick, easy way to do this is to take pictures of everything, or you can also bring them with you to the visit.


Prepare Your Pet

Some pets are happy to see us and have a very easy time while they are here at Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic. However, it’s very common for cats and dogs to be stressed out by coming to the vet. This is normal and is nothing to be worried about, although there are things that can be done to help minimize it for your pet’s sake.

We will often prescribe medications to use prior to vet visits for our friends who get stressed out.  These are safe and often make the visit with us much easier. If your vet has prescribed medications for use prior to the visit, please be sure to follow the instructions for administration.

Cats are often stressed out when the carrier is brought out, and introducing it into the environment several days ahead of the visit can lessen this.

Some pets respond very positively to pheromone products or over-the-counter supplements for stress. We can discuss these with you at your visit.


Follow Directions

Sometimes, the vet may ask pet owners to bring or do certain things. For example, they may need a fresh fecal sample. Or perhaps the pet needs to fast to prepare for a specific blood test.

Write these requests down and follow them as much as possible. By preparing for the needs of a visit ahead of time, the stress of obtaining lab samples is eliminated.


Ask Questions

Please don’t be afraid to ask questions. Pets can’t advocate for themselves, so they need their owners to do it. Most vets view questions as a sign of positive engagement and are happy to answer them.

Dr. Humphrey at Ballantyne Vet encourages pet owners to ask any questions they'd like an answer to. “Whether it pertains to a concern about their pet, why we recommend the things we recommend and what they do for the patient, or even just clarifying something they saw on the news, any questions are good.”

Owners with extensive questions should not hesitate to make a list. The vet might be unable to answer every question in a single visit, particularly if some require additional testing. But there should be a plan to address each concern by the end of the checkup.


Frequently Asked Questions About Wellness Visits


How often should my pet go to the vet?

The number of wellness visits a pet needs to stay healthy changes depending on their age, breed, and overall health condition. Puppies and kittens need to see the vet frequently during their first year.

Young, healthy adult animals usually only need to come in for wellness checkups once a year, and some dogs need to come in at six months after for medication refills or a Bordetella booster.

Older pets, large breeds, or pets with chronic health issues may need to see the vet more frequently. The vet will suggest a schedule based on their condition and needs.      


How much is a vet wellness visit?

The average cost of a wellness visit can vary significantly depending on location, clinic type, and pet age. Don’t be afraid to ask for an estimate before scheduling an appointment. 

Pet wellness exams can feel expensive, but preventative care often saves money in the long run by catching potentially painful and costly issues early on when they are easier to treat.   


Are wellness visits covered by pet insurance? 

Not all pet insurance plans cover wellness visits. While some plans cover preventative care, either as a standard part of the plan or as an add-on accessible with an additional fee, others do not.


Schedule a Wellness Visit With Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic

Dragging a perfectly healthy pet to the vet can feel like a chore, but regular pet wellness exams are one of the best ways to keep our animal companions healthy long-term. By being proactive, Charlotte, NC pet owners can increase the quantity and quality of their pet’s years. 

Remember, preventative care pays off in peace of mind and tangible health benefits. If you’ve got a pet due — or overdue — for an annual checkup, contact Ballantyne Veterinary clinic to schedule an appointment.

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