We all know that we should go to the doctor once a year to get checked out. It’s just as important to bring your pets to the veterinarian every year! While it is very important to make sure your pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations every year, that is only one of the important things that your veterinarian is doing at your annual examination. Here are six things you can expect to have happen at your pet’s next annual exam.
Image from ePetHealth.
- Review your pet’s history. Has anything changed? New pets, new family, a change in their diet, or any change in their exercise or bathroom habits? If you have noticed that your pet is “not acting right” or if something has changed, this is the time to bring it up so your veterinarian can tailor his physical examination to your pet’s needs.
- Physical examination. A physical examination should include measurement of your pet’s temperature, pulse (heart rate), respiratory (breathing) rate, and weight. Your veterinarian should also evaluate your pet’s body condition (a measure of how “fit or fat” they are) and do a brief dental examination to look for signs of dental disease. If your pet has any other problems (like vomiting or a lameness), your veterinarian may do other tests during the examination like palpating your pet’s abdomen to look for signs of pain and to feel for any masses, or a closer evaluation of the hurt leg.
- Vaccinations. It is very important to keep your cats and dogs up-to-date on their vaccinations. The diseases that we vaccinate pets for are highly contagious, and can be fatal. But they can be prevented by these simple routine vaccinations.
- Heartworm prevention. Your veterinarian should discuss your options for heartworm prevention. If your dog has not had a heartworm test recently, your veterinarian may recommend a test to be sure your dog does not have heartworms. Even if your dog tests negative, it is important that she stay on heartworm prevention medications (ideally year-round). At the Princeton Veterinary Hospital, we have many options for heartworm prevention including a once-a-month chewable pill or a 6-month shot. Ask us about the different options the next time you come in!
- Questions. Do you have questions for your veterinarian? Wondering why Tom has started to chew on your favorite shoes? Thinking about getting a new puppy but aren’t sure how your 10-year old dog will handle the change? Concerned about Bella’s hairballs? Don’t be shy – use this time to ask any questions you might have.
- Recommendations. Depending on what your veterinarian finds on his physical examination, the age of your pet, and any concerns that you may have, your veterinarian may recommend further tests for your pet. We may recommend bloodwork, especially in an older animal for routine health screening, or if your pet has a history of vomiting, diarrhea, or increased appetite, thirst, or urination. Sometimes x-rays are important to help us diagnose a lameness, or sometimes a cause of vomiting or respiratory problems. If your pet has any signs of dental disease, we may recommend a routine dental cleaning to keep their teeth healthy. If your pet is underweight or overweight, your veterinarian will make recommendations about how you can adjust their diet to help them maintain an ideal body condition.
Because every pet has different needs and their needs change as they get older, every annual examination may be a little different. With regular physical examinations, your veterinarian may be able to detect a problem while it is still small, before it becomes a bigger issue that may be more difficult to treat.