During routine exams, your vet will check for early symptoms of illness, internal damage, and other serious conditions that should be addressed. Our vets in Sacramento explain what happens when you visit your vet, how to prepare for a routine veterinary checkup, and what happens after the exam of your precious pet.
The Importance of Routine Vet Checkups
You should book a routine wellness exam with your veterinarian once or twice a year, even when your pet appears to be perfectly healthy. These wellness checkups help your pet be the healthiest they can be.
Regular vet visits allow your veterinarian the opportunity to assess your pet's general health, and test for diseases, illnesses, and conditions that can be difficult to identify in their early stages such as cancers and parasites).
Many conditions benefit from early treatment. During the checkup, your vet has two goals: to prevent health conditions from developing where possible and to spot early symptoms of any diseases so that they can be treated before they develop into more serious problems.
How Often Should My Pet Go for Checkup?
Your pet's medical history, species, and age will determine how often your pet should see the veterinarian for a checkup.
If your cat, dog, or other animal has a history of illness but is currently healthy, we recommend booking an appointment at your vet's twice each year or more to ensure your pet stays as healthy as possible. Your vet can examine your pet and tell you how often they should come in for a physical exam.
Young pets can be especially susceptible to illnesses that adult pets are easily able to overcome. For this reason, your vet might recommend booking a monthly checkup for the first few months.
An adult dog or cat with no history of illness should see us for a vet checkup yearly. Some pets such as senior dogs and cats, in addition to giant breed dogs, face an increased risk of many conditions and should see a veterinarian more often to monitor for early signs of illness. In these cases, it's a good idea to bring your pet in for twice-yearly checkups.
How to Prepare
Your vet will need the following basic medical information about your pet, especially if this is your pet's first visit. Write it down and bring these notes on your animal's:
- Eating and drinking habits
- Recent travel history
- Current medications (names and doses)
- Past medical records, including vaccine history
- Tick bites
- Food (what kind do they eat)
- Toilet habits
You may also want to bring a favorite blanket or toys for comfort. Dogs need to be kept on a leash or in their carrier, cats should be in a carrier.
What Does a Checkup for Pets Involve?
When you take your pet to the veterinarian, the vet will review your animal’s medical history and will ask if you have any concerns.
They will also ask about your pet’s:
- Exercise routine
- Thirst level
- Bowel movements,
- Aspects of their lifestyle and general behavior
In some cases, you’ll be asked to collect and bring along a fresh sample of your pet’s feces (bowel movement) so a fecal exam can be completed. These exams help to identify whether any number of problematic intestinal parasites are present. These parasites may otherwise be difficult to detect.
Next, the vet will physically examine your pet. While this will usually cover the following points, the vet may take time to do more depending on your pet’s needs:
- Measuring your pet’s gait, stance, and weight
- Using a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s lungs and heart
- Looking into the eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, cloudiness, or redness.
- Look for issues with eyelids
- Checking for any signs of illness by feeling along your pet’s body (palpating). These symptoms include lameness or limited range of motion, or signs of swelling or pain
- Feeling the abdomen to check whether internal organs appear normal, and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
- Checking your pet’s nails and feet for signs of significant health concerns or damage
- Examining your pet’s ears for signs of wax buildup, polyps, ear mites, or bacterial infection
- Inspecting the condition of the teeth for any indications of decay, damage, or periodontal disease
- Examining your furry companion’s coat to assess overall condition, as well as look for signs of abnormal hair loss or dandruff
- Inspecting your pet’s skin for numerous issues — from bumps or lumps (especially in folds of skin) to dryness and parasites
If an issue is identified, your vet will explain what they have noticed and recommend the next steps or potential treatments.
Vaccinations are also administered during a pet's checkup.
If the vet has reason to be concerned they may order tests for blood count, thyroid hormone testing, urinalysis, and diagnostic testing such as X-rays and imaging.
After the Vet Checkup
Once your pet has been examined, tested, and given their annual vaccines, your vet will dedicate time to explaining their findings to you.
If the veterinarian has found any signs of injury or illness, they will recommend more detailed diagnostics or potential treatment options to help.
If your pet is healthy overall, this discussion may focus on improvements to exercise and diet routines, caring for your pet’s oral health, and checking that essentials such as appropriate parasite prevention are monitored.
Then you get to go home with your pet. Give treats and love to your pet and start implementing the suggestions of your vet to make your pet happier and healthier
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.