What Is It?
Checkups is a complete physical examination along with diagnostic testing that may include blood work, urinalysis, and checking a stool sample for parasites.
In many cases, a checkup can help detect the early stages of disease. Often, your veterinarian will schedule this exam when your pet is due for vaccinations.
What Does It Include?
Checkup programs vary depending on the species, age, and health needs of the patient. Your veterinarian may ask you about any issues that your pet may have. For example, if you noticed that your pet is losing weight, your veterinarian may perform special tests to help rule out specific diseases that can cause weight loss. This is the perfect time to ask questions.
Most checkups include a complete physical examination, which is a nose-to-tail inspection for any abnormalities. Your veterinarian will use special equipment, including a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs, an otoscope to view the inside of the ears, and an ophthalmoscope to examine the eyes. Your veterinarian will also feel all over your pet’s body for lumps and bumps. In addition, your veterinarian will check your pet’s vital signs (temperature, pulse, and respiration) and record your pet’s current weight.
Many veterinarians perform testing on samples of blood, urine, and stool during a checkup. The blood test may include a complete blood cell count (CBC) and a chemistry panel. These tests can help determine if your pet has problems such as anemia, infection, or organ disease. Other tests, such as a thyroid evaluation, may be helpful, depending on the physical examination results and patient history. Parasite tests are also usually performed during checkups.
Your veterinarian may also recommend checking your pets urine by performing a urinalysis. This helps determine whether your pets kidneys are working correctly and may also help diagnose certain conditions, such as diabetes and urinary tract infection. A urinalysis also involves testing the urine for the presence of bacteria, blood, and crystals as well as evidence of infection, any of which may mean that there is a problem.
Depending on your pet’s age, current medical condition, and medical history, your veterinarian may recommend additional tests as part of your pet’s checkups.
What Is It Used For?
A checkup is an important part of preventative health care for pets in all stages of life, from puppies and kittens to senior pets. If your pet checkup is a good way to detect changes such as weight gain or loss, dental disease, or other subtle changes that may not be evident at home.
For any pet, especially senior pets, a checkup is a good way to detect early onset of disease. Early diagnosis and treatment of diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, can greatly improve the overall health and well-being of your pet.
How Often Does my Pet Need an Exam?
Depending on the breed and size of the pet, the average pet will age about five to seven years for every human year. That means that the health of a 7 year-old terrier is equivalent to that of a 35-year-old human.
Because of your pet’s short life span (averaging about 14 years), it is extremely important that your pet receive preventive care at least once per year and twice per year for pets over nine years of age.
Why Are Checkups Important for my Pet?
Pets are genetically wired to hide any illness. Through routine checkups, preventable diseases like obesity, ear infections and dental disease can be addressed, and early screenings for arthritis, diabetes and kidney disease can be performed.
The net result of routine checkups is early detection and prevention of disease, which means a healthier and longer life for your pet.