Annual exams or vet checkups for your dog or cat allow your veterinarian to monitor your pet's health, check for early signs of disease, and provide preventive treatments to help protect your pet against potentially life-threatening conditions. Today our Los Angeles vets explain the benefits of preventive care for pets. 

Why book a dog checkup or cat checkup if my pet seems healthy?

Preventive care is concerned with preserving your pet's health and providing them with the care they need to live a long and healthy life. Preventive care for pets begins with annual or biannual wellness exams, depending on your dog's or cat's needs.

These regular examinations are veterinary checkups for your beloved four-legged companion.

Even if your dog or cat appears to be in perfect health, bringing them to the veterinarian allows your veterinarian's team to monitor their health, look for early signs of disease, and provide preventive care such as vaccines and parasite prevention to keep your dog or cat looking and feeling their best.

Catching health issues including parasites, ear infections, or gastrointestinal issues early, before obvious symptoms appear, means that treatment can begin early when it is most effective.

How often should I need to bring my pet in for a checkup?

The majority of dogs and cats should have annual exams, according to our veterinarians. However, each pet is unique and has different needs, especially as they get older. This is why, depending on your pet's age and medical history, the frequency of his or her checkups will vary.

Puppies and kittens can be vulnerable to health issues that adult pets can easily avoid. This is also true for senior or geriatric pets. You should bring your puppy/kitten in for checkups much more frequently to ensure they have the best possible start in life (every month for puppies and kittens under a year old). Geriatric pets should be examined twice a year, or more frequently if necessary.

What's involved in a vet checkup for dogs and cats?

When you bring your fur-baby to our Los Angeles animal clinic for a checkup, our vets will review their medical history and ask you about any specific concerns you might have.

We may have asked you to bring a sample of your pet's stool in for a fecal exam in some cases. We'll look for signs of common intestinal parasites, which would be extremely difficult to detect in any other way.

After these initial steps, your veterinarian will perform a physical checkup of your pet which will usually include any or all of the following:

  • Listening to your pet's heart and lungs
  • Checking your animal's weight, stance, and gait
  • Checking your pet's eyes for signs of redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
  • Inspecting the pet's coat for overall condition, dandruff, or abnormal hair loss
  • Looking at your pet's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
  • Looking at your pet's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
  • Examining the condition of your pet's teeth for any indications of periodontal disease, damage, or decay
  • Examining your dog or cat's skin for a range of issues from dryness to parasites to lumps and bumps (particularly in skin folds)
  • Palpate your pet's abdomen to access whether the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
  • Feeling along your pet's body (palpating) for any signs of illness such as swelling, evidence of lameness such as limited range of motion, and signs of pain

These tests are all designed to detect early warning signs of potential health issues in your pet. Because our dogs and cats are unable to communicate their discomfort, these tests and checks assist in determining how your pet is feeling in general.

What about getting my pet their shots?

Vaccines protect your dog or cat from diseases that are common, contagious, and potentially fatal. The vaccines recommended for your dog or cat will differ depending on your location and your pet's lifestyle.

Core vaccines for dogs and cats are recommended for all pets, whereas lifestyle vaccines are most often recommended for pets that are regularly in contact with other animals. To learn more about the vaccines recommended for your pet check out our vaccine schedule.

Adult pets will require booster shots regularly to maintain disease resistance. Boosters are typically given once a year or every three years. When it is time for your dog or cat's booster shots, your veterinarian will notify you.

Does my pet need parasite prevention?

Parasites are a serious health risk to Los Angeles pets. Ticks and mosquitos carry parasites that can enter your pet's body and cause potentially fatal conditions; therefore, your veterinarian will advise you on how to keep parasites out of your four-legged friend. Furthermore, it is critical to understand that some of these parasites can be transmitted from pets to their loving owners!

Parasite prevention can help to protect your pet from conditions such as:

  • Heartworm
  • Fleas
  • Lyme Disease
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Babesiosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Hookworms
  • Roundworms 
  • Tapeworms
  • Whipworm

Is preventive care expensive?

Compared to treating advanced forms of conditions, disorders, or diseases, (especially heartworm) regularly scheduled wellness exams will save you money. 

Furthermore, they will make certain that your pet is in as little discomfort or pain as possible as a result of any health issues they are experiencing. The sooner a medical problem is identified, the better it can be diagnosed and treated.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is it time for your pet's checkup? Book an appointment at Rancho Park Veterinary Clinic today.