Regular wellness exams allow your veterinarian to evaluate your pet’s general health and become aware of any health problems before they become serious illnesses. Since your pet cannot vocalize his feelings, you must rely on regular physical examinations by a veterinarian and your at-home observations to assess your pet’s health. Your veterinarian may also wish to perform diagnostic tests, including blood tests and/or x-rays, to evaluate your pet’s health.
Routine blood testing, urinalysis (urine testing) and other tests are recommended for all pets in their “senior years.” Your veterinarian may recommend routine blood testing and urinalysis for younger pets to establish baseline values, which can be used for comparison as pets age.
How often does my pet need a wellness exam?
Every year for a dog or cat is equivalent to five to seven human years, so it is important that your pet receives a wellness exam at least every year, and more often when he enters his senior years. Many aspects of your pet’s health can change in a short amount of time, so make sure your pet does not miss even one exam!
Similar to people, pets need to visit the veterinarian more often as they get older in order to prevent and treat illnesses that come with age (visit Senior Pet Care for more information). AAHA recommends that healthy dogs and cats visit the veterinarian once a year for a complete exam and laboratory testing. Healthy senior dogs and cats should receive a wellness exam and lab testing every six months. Depending on your pet’s age and health, your veterinarian will suggest an appropriate physical examination schedule to help keep your pet in tip-top shape.
What can I expect during my pet’s wellness examination?
Your veterinarian will request a complete history of your pet’s health. Don’t forget to mention any unusual behavior that you have noticed in your pet, including:
- Eating more than usual
- Excessive drinking of water, panting, scratching or urination
- Weight gain or weight loss
Your veterinarian will also want to know about your pet’s daily behavior, including his diet, how much water he drinks and his exercise routine. Your veterinarian may ask:
- Does your pet have trouble getting up in the morning?
- Does your pet show signs of weakness or unbalance?
- Does your pet show an unwillingness to exercise?
Depending on where you live, your pet’s lifestyle and age, and other factors, your veterinarian may also ask about your pet’s exposure to fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites. He or she will develop an individualized treatment and/or preventative plan to address these issues.