Routine pet wellness exams are perhaps the single most important thing you can do to ensure your pet’s health. It is far better to avoid disease than to treat something in an advanced state. Getting to know your pet in a well, unstressed state helps us in future diagnoses. Also, in circumstances where there is not the urgency of a specific veterinary problem, we have ample time for discussion of nutrition, parasite control, vaccinations, weight, behavior, and other preventive health care topics.
Pets should be seen a minimum of once per year. An annual wellness exam is well worth the time and expense, especially since it may allow you to dodge more serious health problems. As your pet ages, we’ll want to see him or her for more visits. Read more about senior pet care recommendations.
What to Expect at Your Pet’s Annual Exam
- A thorough physical exam from ears to tail (eyes, teeth, lungs, abdomen, heart, weight, joints, muscles, lumps and bumps, etc.)
- Behavioral questions (water consumption, diet, energy, elimination, litter box, etc.), often revealing underlying veterinary issues
- Vaccine updates
- Ova and parasite tests (will determine if intestinal parasites are present)
- Heartworm tests (for both cats and dogs)
- Blood profile tests (will reveal evidence of cancer, thyroid or kidney issues, infection, inflammation, etc.)
- Other tests as indicated
Be sure to mention any changes you have noticed in your pet, including:
- Eating more or less than usual
- Excessive drinking of water, panting, scratching, or urination
- Weight gain or weight loss
Visit PetMD for more information on what to expect during your pet’s exam.
Pet Nutrition, Diet, Weight, and Safety
We recommend providing your pet with fresh water and a standard high-quality diet, the best you can afford. Measure the food you provide and serve it at set times to avoid pet obesity. Pet safety is always a concern, and it is important to make sure your home environment is “pet proofed.” Cats will be much safer indoors. The American Humane Association offers general pet safety related information for pet owners.
Cats Need Care, Too
Did you know that statistically, cats are half as likely to get veterinary care compared to dogs? Perhaps it is because they seem self-sufficient and tend to hide their pain. Often with cats, behavior changes can be linked to illness. For example, litter box issues can signal urinary tract problems or marked thirst can indicate diabetes.
Minimize the Stress of Cat Transport
What cat owner doesn’t dread the moment of placing his or her cat in the carrier for a vet visit? Here are some tips to make it easier:
- Create a positive association with the pet carrier by leaving it out and making it a familiar and comfortable place.
- Put clothing belonging to your cat's favorite person inside the carrier just before transport.
- Try to get your cat used to car trips—make it not always about a trip to the vet.
- Withhold food before travel to avoid motion sickness.
- Drape a blanket over the carrier, which can make cats feel safer.
When to Call Us
Key points are summarized below, and the article, Signs of Illness in Dogs, may help you determine when to call us.
Immediately contact us or go to an emergency clinic if you observe any of the following signs or symptoms:
- Blue, white, or very pale gums
- Labored breathing
- Collapse or loss of consciousness
- Dizziness, imbalance, or circling
- Inability to walk
- Extremely bloated abdomen
- Signs of acute severe pain (such as crying out very loudly and excessively)
- Body temperature over 104 or under 99 (normal is typically 100.5-102.5)
Contact us if you notice any of the following signs or symptoms lasting more than one to two days:
- Poor appetite
- Excessive salivation
- Excessive thirst (increased water intake)
- Frequent or inappropriate urination
- Excessive scratching or dull, dry, or flaky hair coat
- Wheezing or frequent panting
- Nasal discharge or congestion
- Displays of mild to moderate pain (such as crying when a specific area is touched or action is taken)