You’ve probably heard our team touting the importance of annual wellness visits, but are they really that important? Yes! Seeing your pet at least once a year allows us to assess his health status and helps you plan for a long life with him. Visiting the veterinarian only when your pet needs booster vaccines may not be enough. Read on to learn why you don’t want your pet to miss his next appointment.

#1: You might not notice a change in your pet’s weight

It’s important to have your pet’s weight accurately measured at least once a year so it can be compared to his weight at previous visits. If he’s gained weight, our veterinarians may broach the delicate subject of weight loss. More than half of America’s dogs and cats are overweight, and it has a tremendous impact on their health. We know that obesity causes chronic inflammation, joint disease, diabetes, and many other chronic health conditions.

On the other hand, the first sign of many diseases is weight loss, which often goes unnoticed in our fur-covered friends. If your pet has lost weight, we may need to run some tests to determine if he is sick.

#2: A physical exam provides important information about your pet’s health 

A complete physical exam will give us a wealth of information about your companion’s health status. A thorough look-over can reveal problems related to the ears, eyes, mouth, and skin. Palpation of the muscles, bones, and abdomen may reveal problems such as swellings, organ enlargement, or masses. Auscultation of the heart and lungs with a stethoscope can reveal abnormal sounds or rhythms indicative of cardiorespiratory disease.

#3: Your pet likely has dental disease

Dental disease is extremely common in dogs and cats and must be addressed before it progresses to tooth decay and loss. Many animals walk around with severe dental pain and infections without their owners realizing it. If you have noticed bad breath or tartar accumulation on your pet’s teeth, it is likely time for a dental cleaning. If dental disease is present, your veterinarian will let you know how extensive it is and how you can prevent it from progressing.

#4: Parasites may be lurking in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract

It may sound gross and smelly (it is!), but we are up for the job! We actually want to look at your pet’s poop to ensure he doesn’t have an infestation of intestinal parasites. Not all pets with worms exhibit diarrhea, but if parasites are present, you can be sure they are causing chronic harm. By evaluating the feces under a microscope, we can check for common parasites, including:

  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Whipworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Giardia
  • Coccidia

#5: It is probably time to update your pet’s vaccines

A quick check of your pet’s medical record will let us know if any of his vaccines need to be boostered. We booster many vaccines annually to protect our canine and feline patients from a host of infectious diseases that are easily picked up from other animals or the environment. Don’t leave your pet unprotected from these contagious diseases!

Canine diseases:

  • Distemper
  • Infectious hepatitis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Parvo
  • Kennel cough
  • Canine influenza
  • Rabies

Feline diseases:

  • Feline infectious respiratory disease (caused by feline herpesvirus, calicivirus, and the bacteria Chlamydophila felis)
  • Panleukopenia
  • Feline leukemia
  • Rabies

#6: Deadly heartworms might be hiding in your pet’s heart and lungs

Every dog (and cat!) should be tested for heartworm disease annually. Heartworms are passed by the bite of a mosquito and cause deadly heart and lung damage. We recommend annual testing, because just one forgotten or late dose of monthly heartworm preventive leaves your pet vulnerable to these dangerous parasites.

#7: Your pet needs protection from invasive parasites

As long as your pet is parasite-free, we will recommend medications that you will give regularly to prevent heartworm disease, intestinal parasites, fleas, and ticks. Most heartworm preventives are administered monthly and have the added bonus of also preventing some intestinal worms. Flea and tick preventives are either applied monthly to an animal’s skin or are administered orally each month to prevent these pests and the diseases they can carry. If a parasite infection is detected during your pet’s visit, we will prescribe medications to treat it before beginning a preventive regimen.

If it sounds like we gather a lot of information during a quick visit, you get the idea! Routine wellness care is designed to detect early signs of disease and protect your pet from life-threatening health problems.

Time for your pet’s annual check-up? Give us a call at 615-896-3434 today.