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Why are veterinary checkups so important?

Routine veterinary exams assist in keeping your pet healthy by providing your vet with the opportunity to give your cat or dog a checkup, look for any early signs of illnesses and monitor their overall physical health. Here our Mechanicsburg vets give you more information on when you should bring your fury friend in for a checkup and what to expect.

Why Routine Exams Are Important

Your cat or dog's annual routine exam is a veterinary 'check-up' for your pet. Routine veterinary exams take place about one to two times a year while your pet still looks healthy. These exams are an excellent method to help your pet stay-in or achieve life long optimal health by focusing your energy on early disease detection and preventive care. By bringing your cat or dog in for checkups with your vet regularly you are giving your veterinarian the chance to spot difficult to catch diseases in their early stages (cancers and parasites) and the opportunity to monitor your companions overall health. 

Scheduling Your Pet's Routine Exam

The frequency you bring your pet in for a routine exam depends on factors such as their age, lifestyle, previous medical history and the breed's risk of developing diseases. If your pet is currently healthy but has had illnesses in the past or is at a higher risk of developing diseases you should be bringing them in two times a year to make sure your cat or dog remains as healthy as possible.

If you have an adult pet that is in good health with no history of illness an exam once a year is recommended. Very young or very old animals are often more susceptible to disease and illness and therefore our vets suggest bringing your kitten or puppy in for a checkup monthly for the first 4 - 6 months of their lives.

If your pet is in their senior years or you have a giant breed of dog that has a higher risk of developing diseases it's recommended to bring them in twice a year for their checkup. These regular checkups for your cat or dog gives your vet the opportunity to detect early signs of diseases and start treatment while illnesses are still in their early and most treatable stages, before they become severe.

To prepare for your pet's routine exam, make sure to gather any necessary medical records and bring them to the appointment. Additionally, be prepared to discuss any changes in your pet's behavior or health since their last visit to ensure a thorough examination. 

What to Expect At Your Pet's Routine Exam

When you bring your pet to the veterinarian for a routine exam, the first thing the vet will do is review your pet's medical history and talk to you about their behavior and any health concerns you have. They will also ask about your pet's lifestyle, diet, thirst, exercise routine, and urination habits.

Often veterinarians will ask you to bring in a fresh sample of your pet's stool in order to perform a fecal exam. These types of samples are a valuable tool in terms of detecting intestinal parasites which can have a severe impact on your pet's health and wellbeing.

After this your vet will perform your pet's physical examination, which usually includes:

  • Weighing your cat or dog
  • Listening to your pet's lungs and heart
  • Looking at the animal's gait and stance for irregularities
  • Checking your pet's nails and feet for damage or signs of more serious health conditions
  • Palpate your companion's abdomen to see if the internal organs appear to be normal and to look for signs of pain or discomfort
  • Feeling along your pet's body for signs of illness like swelling, signs of pain and evidence of lameness including a limited range of motion
  • Looking closely at your cat or dog's skin for conditions including parasites, lumps or dryness
  • Inspecting the overall condition of your furry friend's coat, looking for bald patching or dandruff
  • Examining their eyes for eyelid issues, discharge, redness, cloudiness or excessive tearing
  • Checking your pet's ears for signs of polyps, wax build-up, ear mites or bacterial infection
  • Looking at your dog or cat's teeth for any indication of damage, tooth decay or periodontal disease

All of these exams and checks are able to be done seamlessly and quickly if no problems are found. Your veterinarian will most likely talk with you as they perform this thorough examination.

Your vet will also give your cat or dog their annual vaccines if it is appropriate based on your pet's vaccine schedule. Puppy and kitten vaccinations as well as booster shots for adult pets are very important in giving them their best chance at a long and healthy life. Staying up to date with your animal companions vaccines through out their life will help keep them safe from a variety of contagious and possibly serious conditions and diseases.

Additional Routine Tests Recommended for Pets

On top of the general tests mentioned above, your veterinarian may recommend additional tests to gain a better understanding of your pet's health. When deciding whether your cat or dog requires additional tests, keep in mind that early diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and diseases are often less expensive and invasive than treating a condition in its advanced stages.

The tests listed below look for a variety of conditions and can help find the earliest signs of diseases before your pet displays symptoms:

  • Urinalysis
  • Thyroid hormone testing
  • Complete blood count (CDC)

If you own a giant breed of dog or a senior pet, more in-depth testing (such as X-rays and other imaging) might also be recommended.

At The End of Your Pet's Checkup

Once your pet's checkup and examination are complete, and your furry friend has received their annual vaccines and booster shots, your veterinarian will take the time necessary to discuss their findings with you.

If your vet has found any signs of injury or illness, they will talk with you about getting a more detailed diagnosis or about the treatment options that are available.

If they give your cat or dog a clean bill of health, your veterinarian might provide you with tips or suggestions about your pet's oral health, diet, parasite preventions or exercise routines.

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.

Is it time for your pets annual routine exam? Contact our Mechanicsburg vets now to schedule an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Looking for a vet in Mechanicsburg PA? Silver Springs Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our skilled veterinarians are passionate about improving the health of Central Pennsylvania companion animals. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment.

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