Importance of the Annual Checkup In Pets
By: Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM | Nov 1, 2016
In this video Dr. Greenway discusses the importance of the annual checkup in pets and how to prepare for it in order for your dog or cat to get the most out of their appointment. Topics covered include vaccination, body condition, dental disease, parasite control, annual blood work, and urine testing/analysis to name a few. A consultation and physical examination from your veterinarian is suggested annually.
I’m Dr. Clayton Greenway with healthcareforpets.com. What I’d like to talk about now is the importance of checkups at the veterinarian, why we do them and how you should prepare for them.
The first thing to think about is that for ourselves, we may go see the doctor sometimes every other year for a full physical. You’ve got remember our pets age very quickly. Their lifespan is not as long as ours so you do want to have a regular health checkup at least annually.
First of all, prior to going in for your annual visit there’s a couple things you’ll want to do. You’ll want to pay attention to your pet and see if there’s anything it’s doing that’s unusual that you can tell your veterinarian about such as drinking excessively, urinating excessively, eating more, eating less, coughing, sneezing, lameness’s. You really want to take that opportunity for that visit to inform your vet as much as possible about what’s going on with your pet before they do a physical exam and start to recommend what to address.
I also want you to tell your veterinarian what diet you’re feeding. Specifically, if you’re adding things or giving treats as well. By telling them this, they can address any dietary issues and also, maybe they can give a recommendation for a diet that may prevent a problem in your particular dog or cat or there are certain breeds that get things in the future that a certain diet may prevent.
There are certain parameters that we want to watch for. I find that clients will sometimes want to avoid an annual visit due to the cost but a lot of the things I’m going to mention really have to do with avoiding costs in the future by doing good preventative care.
So at these health checkups one of the things we do is we get a weight of your pet and we monitor that weight so that in future checkups, if the weight starts to dip, we maybe start to look for reasons why that is happening. If it increases, we’ll know that as well and we’ll start to address weight issues so that we prevent certain diseases associated with it. I encourage you to look at our weight management program if you think your pet is overweight so that your pet is not at risk of getting some of those diseases associated with obesity.
The other reasons why we do annual checkups is we can often find issues in a pet far in advance of them showing up at home. So by searching their whole body during a physical exam, we can find things like masses or growths that are much better dealt with early when they’re smaller than waiting a couple years until they’re larger and bothering the dog.
The other thing we can do is blood work and doing annual wellness testing or blood and urine testing, we’ll find diseases far in advance of them actually appearing symptomatically. For instance, kidney disease in cats. It’s very common and it takes years to progress. We can find it very early with blood work but by the time you actually see a cat drink excessively or pee excessively, they’re far into that disease process. By addressing it early, you’ll slow the progression of that disease and have a lot more success with its treatment.
Of course, at annual checkups we also talk about vaccination and vaccination is sometimes hotly debated. We’ve included some videos and literature on our website to help you make decisions about which vaccines you need, but it gives you that opportunity to talk with your veterinarian about what vaccinations you should have that will protect your pet from certain diseases that it could encounter in its life.
Another thing we do at annual visits is we do fecal testing so we look for intestinal parasites. When parasites exist in our pets, they can cause problems over time. Sometimes you won’t even see symptoms such as diarrhea to alert you to things like intestinal parasites in your pet and keep in mind that some of these things can transfer to people, particularly children and elderly people so we want to do a fecal test to make sure that there are no parasites in your pet. This is one test that a lot of people will decline because they don’t see parasites in the stool or don’t see diarrhea but again, keep in mind, it doesn’t have to cause diarrhea and a lot of them you can’t actually see with the naked eye and remember that when our pets go to the park and they run through the park and they come home and lick their paws that’s a way that they can pick up parasites so the risk of this is a lot higher than we think. We don’t really look for intestinal parasites that often in people because we wash our hands and eat clean food but our pets really intimately interact with the environment and that really increases their risk of getting these sorts of things.
So, by doing annual visits for your pet consider wellness testing, blood work and urine, fecal testing, talking about vaccination and having a yearly physical exam, you can find diseases far in advance of them showing up. They can be less costly to deal with and you can have a lot more success in dealing with them. We really encourage you to do that with your veterinarian and work with them to provide optimal health for your pet because the most important thing to us is your pet’s health here at healthcareforpets.com.
Disclaimer: healthcareforpets.com and its team of veterinarians and clinicians do not endorse any products, services, or recommended advice. All advice presented by our veterinarians, clinicians, tools, resources, etc is not meant to replace a regular physical exam and consultation with your primary veterinarian or other clinicians. We always encourage you to seek medical advice from your regular veterinarian.