Most pet owners want to provide the best home – and health – for their cat or dog. From puppies and kittens to senior dogs and cats, pet wellness exams are one of the most valuable ways you can provide for your furry family member.
Keep reading to learn what these exams are, how they help, and what to expect when you schedule one with your trusted veterinarian.
What is a pet wellness exam?
A pet wellness exam is a physical exam done by your veterinarian, typically once a year. During a wellness exam, your veterinarian will assess your pet’s overall health with both visual and physical exams. They’ll also ask questions about your pet’s habits and behaviors to identify any concerns worth investigating. Things like allergies, excessive thirst, or obesity might prompt additional discussion or testing.
A pet wellness exam aims to administer preventive care and identify any potential concerns during the physical examination that may indicate health issues. This appointment is usually when your vet will administer vaccinations and complete a fecal exam to check for parasites.
Catching health conditions or concerns in the early stages of development and using preventive care are two of the best ways to keep your pet healthy and happy throughout their life.
Wellness exams for cats and kittens
During wellness exams for cats, your vet will complete a physical exam, ask you questions about your pet, and complete tests such as a stool sample and blood test to check for heartworms.
Typically, your pet will receive vaccinations at their annual visit as well. At Metrovet, we recommend the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) core vaccines, including the FVRCP vaccine, to protect against Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FHV-1), Feline Calicivirus (FCV), and Feline Panleukopenia (FPL). We use Purevax Rabies vaccinations (1 and 3 years) and an FeLV series for cats under one year (or if your adult cat goes outside). Additional (non-core) vaccines include Bordetella and Chlamydia.
Lastly, preventative medications are available from your vet at an annual visit. It can be a great time to stock up on medications and preventives you use throughout the year.
Wellness exams for dogs and puppies
A wellness exam for dogs is similar to those for cats because your vet will complete a physical exam, talk to you about concerns or new behaviors, and complete tests for parasites (via stool samples) and heartworms (via blood test).
Your pet will likely receive their vaccinations at their annual visit. We follow the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) guidelines for core vaccines, which means we recommend Rabies Vaccines and DAPP, which protects against Distemper, Adenovirus Type 2 (Hepatitis), Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza. These are considered core vaccines by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) because they’re critical for your pet’s well-being and safety.
Non-core vaccines may be recommended based on your dog’s risk. They include vaccines that protect against diseases such as Lyme Disease, Bordetella (kennel cough), Leptospirosis, and CIV.
Before you leave your vet’s office, remember to restock medications and preventives against fleas, ticks, and heartworms.
Importance of Wellness Exams for Your Pets
A routine check-up for your pet allows you to be proactive about their health. Not only will your veterinarian administer routine vaccinations and complete a thorough exam, but the appointment also enables you to explore any concerns that could indicate a problem.
As a pet owner, changes in your dog or cat may require investigation through additional testing, like x-rays, bloodwork, a urinalysis, and more. Early detection and treatment of symptoms and disease can keep your pet in optimal health throughout their life.
What to Expect During Your Wellness Check
Your vet will complete a thorough visual and physical exam at annual wellness exams. This exam includes checking your pet’s weight for any changes, checking their temperature, and looking at their eyes, teeth, mouth, paws, and more. During the physical exam, your vet will gently feel your pet for any lumps or signs of swelling. Your vet will also likely check for parasites and heartworms during your visit with a stool sample and blood sample. Overall, you want to be sure that your pet’s health status is excellent.
Once the exam is complete, it’s time for routine vaccinations. Many pet owners also choose to stock up on preventive care items during their visit, such as flea, tick, and heartworm control medications.
What Tests Are Performed?
Typically, your pet will have their blood drawn to test for heartworms and a stool sample taken to test for intestinal parasites. Additional tests may be recommended if your veterinarian identifies any concerns or signs of illness.
Common diseases and conditions that may be screened
Most often, your vet will test for heartworms and intestinal parasites. These require a simple blood test and a stool sample. You’ll typically get the results of both tests during your appointment.
How You Can Prepare for Your Cat or Dog’s Wellness Exam
The best way to keep your pet in optimal health is to ensure they have routine wellness checks. And to keep them safe during those checks, be sure to secure your dog with a leash and your cat in a carrier (or leash). This step is often the best way to ensure your pet stays safe and doesn’t get loose during a visit to the vet.
In addition, save your pet the experience of drawing a stool sample and collect one right before your visit. You can simply put a sample in a plastic bag and bring it to your appointment.
For most pets, no additional accommodations are necessary. However, if your pet gets nervous or uncomfortable traveling or visiting your vet, ask about options to ensure your visit is successful before arrival.
Benefits of Scheduling Regular Exams for Your Pet
There are many benefits to routine wellness exams at all years of age. Keep reading for some of the top reasons to visit your vet annually.
Spot Signs of Illness Early On
One of the benefits of routine exams is the ability to spot signs of illness early on for pets at all years of age. The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is true when caring for your pet.
Simple steps like checking your pet’s weight for changes or noticing early signs of periodontal disease in the mouth can allow your veterinarian to take proactive measures to protect your furry friend.
Depending on your pet’s breed, they could be at risk for certain abnormalities that only wellness screening tests could detect.
Get Up-to-Date Info on Your Pet
A wellness checkup is the best way to know what’s going on with your pet. You can learn a lot about your pet with diagnostics like x-rays, checking urine samples, and assessing dental care and health. Even listening to your pet’s heart and lungs with a stethoscope will give your vet insight into their overall health.
Maintain Good Health for Your Pet
A wellness exam is the best way to maintain good health for your pet. From the newest family addition to your adult dog or senior pet, a physical examination will help you know what’s happening. A vet will check for physical signs such as weight loss, dandruff, bald patches, and your pets’ gums to see if they need further treatment. And proactive measures like vaccines, supplements, and parasite prevention can help your healthy pet stay that way.
Common questions to ask the vet during the pet wellness exam
An essential part of your pet’s annual vet visit is sharing important feedback that you have from seeing your pet every day. Be sure to ask questions about anything you’ve noticed, including your pet’s behavior, nutrition, weight, and more.
Want a cheat sheet of topics you may wish to cover? Click here for a complete list of questions to ask your vet.
Tips for finding the right veterinarian for your pet’s needs
The best veterinary team is one that cares for you and your pet. At Metrovet, we welcome pets of all sizes and their owners. And we practice fear-free care to ensure a seamless visit whether you have a tiny kitten or a great dane!
Look for a vet with proper credentials, experience, and training that makes you feel welcome and knows how to do the same for your four-legged family members!
Schedule Your Wellness Check With Metrovet and Keep Your Pet Happy and Healthy!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does a dog wellness exam take?
Most wellness exams take approximately one hour or less from check-in to check-out. The total time depends on your pet’s age and health and any tests that may be required or questions you’d like to discuss with your veterinarian.
Why are wellness exams important for pets?
Annual wellness exams are critical to keeping your pet healthy throughout their life. In addition to proactive measures that protect your pet from common illnesses and diseases, exams also allow you to get routine updates on your pet’s health. Your vet will look for signs that can indicate any concerns, leading to early detection and treatment if necessary.
How often should I have my dog or cat’s health examined?
Most pets should see their veterinary team annually. If you have a new kitten or puppy, you may visit your vet more often due to vaccine schedules and other factors. The same is true if your pet is ill or a senior animal that requires more regular care and access to treatments, medications, and more.
Do any special preparations need to be made before an examination?
Typically, special preparations are not required to visit your veterinarian for a wellness exam. However, you should always protect your pet from getting lost or hurt with proper leashing and/or the use of a crate. If your pet is extremely nervous or scared when traveling, talk to your vet about potential solutions to put them at ease before your visit.
If you’re traveling to a yearly exam, consider collecting a fecal sample at home before leaving. Bring it in a plastic bag for testing, and your pet can avoid having a sample collected at the vet’s office.
How much does it cost to have a pet wellness exam performed by my veterinarian?
The cost of an annual exam may vary by vet and location. It will also change if your pet needs additional tests, surgery, or medications. Contact your local veterinarian for an exact quote or reach out to the team at Metrovet. We’d love to help you schedule a visit for your pet!