Taking your cat or dog to the vet every year for annual exams provides your veterinarian with the chance to monitor your pet's health and administer preventive care to help protect your furry friend from potentially life-threatening conditions. In this post, our Lafayette vets explain why routine exams (pet checkups) are important for cats and dogs and tell you what you can expect at these veterinary appointments.
Why Book a Vet Checkup When Your Pet Looks Healthy
Preventive care is about maintaining your pet's good health and ensuring they get the level of 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 beloved animal companion.
By bringing your dog or cat to the vet, even when they seem perfectly healthy, you give your veterinarian the chance 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 such as parasites, ear infections, or gastrointestinal problems early, before obvious symptoms appear, means that treatment can start early when it is most effective.
How Often You Should Bring Your Pet to the Vet
Our vets recommend annual examinations for most dogs and cats. However, all pets are different and have different needs - especially as they get older. This is why the frequency of your pet's checkups will depend on the age and medical history of your cat or dog.
Puppies and kittens can be susceptible to health conditions that are easily resisted by adult pets. This is also the case for senior or geriatric pets. You should bring your puppy/kitten in for a checkup much more often to provide them with the very best start in life, (every month for puppies and kittens under a year old). For geriatric pets, twice a year (or more if required) is recommended.
What To Expect At Your Cat or Dog's Vet Checkup
When you bring your animal companion to our Lafayette animal clinic for a routine checkup, your veterinarian will review your pet's medical history and ask if you have any specific concerns about your pet's health or behavior.
Sometimes, we may ask you to bring in a sample of your pet's stool in order to conduct a fecal exam. We will take that sample and examine it for signs of common intestinal parasites which would be very difficult to detect otherwise.
After these first steps, your veterinarian will complete a physical checkup of your pet which could consist of any of the following:
- Checking your cat or dog's weight, stance, and gait
- Listening to your pet's heart and lungs
- Palpate your pet's abdomen to see if the internal organs seem normal and check for signs of discomfort
- Looking at your pet's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Checking your animal'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
- Examining the condition of your cat or dog's teeth for any signs of periodontal disease, damage, or decay
- Assessing your pet's skin for issues like dryness, parasites, lumps, and bumps (particularly in skin folds)
- Checking your pet's eyes for signs of redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- Feeling along your pet's body (palpating) for any indications of illness like swelling, signs of lameness such as limited range of motion, and traces of pain
All of the tests detailed above are designed 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 are recommended for all pets, whereas lifestyle vaccines are generally recommended for pets that often come into contact with other animals. To learn more about the vaccines recommended for your cat or dog see our vaccine schedule.
Adult pets will need to be provided with 'booster shots' on a regular basis in order to maintain their protection against disease. Usually, cats and dogs are given booster shots either 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.
Why Parasite Prevention is Important for Pets
Parasites are a real health threat to Lafayette 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 can help to protect your pet from conditions such as:
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
The Cost of Preventive Care For Cats & Dogs
When compared to treating conditions, disorders, or diseases, (especially heartworm) in their advanced stages, routine wellness exams can 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.