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Routine Vet Exams - Why Are Regular Veterinary Checkups Important?

Your veterinarian will regularly check your pet for signs of illness, internal health issues, and other serious conditions during routine exams. Our vets in Hattiesburg explain the importance of regularly scheduled veterinary checkups.

Why are routine vet checkups important?

It is important to book a routine physical exam with your veterinarian once or twice a year, even if your pet seems to be perfectly healthy. These wellness checkups are essential for helping your pet achieve and maintain ideal health.

By bringing your healthy animal to visit your veterinarian regularly, you are giving your vet the opportunity to assess your pet's general health and well-being, test your pet for illness and disease, and identify conditions that respond best to treatment in their early stages.

During the checkup, your vet has two goals: to prevent health conditions from developing where possible and to identify early symptoms of diseases so that they can be treated before they become more serious problems.

How often should my pet attend a vet checkup?

Your pet's medical history and age will influence how often your vet advises you to bring it in for a visit. If your cat, dog, or other animal has a history of illness but is currently healthy, we recommend booking an appointment with your vet twice each year or more to ensure your pet stays as healthy as possible. Your vet can examine your pet and advise you on how often it should come in for a physical exam. 

Since puppies' and kittens' immune systems are still developing, young pets may be especially susceptible to illnesses that adult pets can easily overcome. Because of this, your vet may recommend that you book a monthly checkup for your puppy or kitten during their first few months. 

Typically, an adult dog or cat with no history of illness should see us for a vet checkup on a yearly basis. However, 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 cat or dog checkups.

How to prepare for the vet appointment?

Your veterinarian will require some essential medical information about your dog or cat, particularly if this is your pet's initial visit. Please bring notes on the following about your pet:

  • Tick bites
  • Eating and drinking habits
  • Toilet habits
  • Current medications (names and doses)
  • Recent travel history
  • Past medical records, including vaccine history
  • Food (what kind do they eat)

You may also want to bring a favorite blanket or toys for comfort. Dogs should be on a leash, and cats should be in a carrier.

What does a checkup for pets involve?

When you bring your pet to the veterinarian, the vet will review your pet's medical history and address any concerns you have about their health. They will also ask about your pet's diet, exercise routine, bowel movements, urination schedule, and other relevant aspects of their life and general behavior.

Sometimes, you may be required to collect and bring fresh samples of your pet's feces for a parasite screening test. These tests help identify if your pet is dealing with problematic parasites that would otherwise be difficult to detect.

After that, the vet will physically examine your pet. This usually covers specific points, but depending on your pet's needs, the vet may spend more time.

  • Using a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s lungs and heart
  • Checking your pet’s nails and feet for signs of significant health concerns or damage
  • Inspecting your cat’s or dog’s skin for numerous issues — from bumps or lumps (especially in folds of skin) to dryness and parasites
  • Looking into the eyes for signs of cloudiness, discharge, excessive tearing, cloudiness, or redness. Will also look for issues with eyelids
  • Feeling the abdomen to check whether internal organs appear normal, and to check for signs of pain or discomfort
  • Examining your pet’s ears for signs of wax buildup, polyps, ear mites, or bacterial infection
  • Examining your furry companion’s coat to assess overall condition, as well as look for signs of abnormal hair loss or dandruff
  • Inspecting the condition of the teeth for any indications of decay, damage, or periodontal disease
  • 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
  • Measuring your pet’s gait, stance, and weight

Your veterinarian can quickly and seamlessly run through this checklist if no issues are detected along the way.

They may even chat with you while doing so. If an issue is identified, your vet will explain what they have noticed and recommend the next steps or potential treatments.

Also, annual vaccinations are administered during a cat or dog checkup, based on your animal’s appropriate schedule.

Additional Wellness Testing Recommended for Pets

Your vet may suggest extra wellness testing for your pet in addition to basic checkup exams and tests. Remember that detecting and treating a disease or health problem early is much less costly and invasive than treating the condition in its advanced stage.

Blood count, thyroid hormone testing, and urinalysis may be performed, in addition to diagnostic testing such as X-rays and imaging.

Ending the Vet Checkup

After examining and testing your pet and administering its annual vaccines, your vet will explain its findings to you.

If the veterinarian has identified any signs of injury or illness, they will recommend further diagnostics or potential treatment options. 

If your pet is in good health, the discussion may center on improving exercise and diet routines, caring for your pet’s oral health, and ensuring appropriate parasite-prevention measures are in place.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

It is time for your dog or cat's routine veterinary checkup? Contact The Pet Hospital (Parkway) today to book the procedure and to ask any questions you might have.

New Patients Welcome

The Pet Hospital (Parkway) is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of companion animals in Hattiesburg and Petal. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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