Most pet owners only take their pet to the vet when he or she is feeling sick, or when something has happened. However, keeping up on routine vet visits is important for your pet's overall health. Just like humans, pets need a general check-up too.
Below are the reasons why vet visits are so important, what to expect during a pet check-up, and what your vet may recommend to help your pet live a long, happy life.
Some pet owners think that there is no reason why they should take their pet to the vet unless he or she has something wrong, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Routine visits help vets determine how your pet is progressing through life and may also pick up on any underlying conditions your pet may be afflicted with later on. If your dog or cat has a serious issue that you aren't aware of, your veterinarian can usually spot the problem and either correct it, or slow the condition down. That is why taking your pet for a general check-up is important.
During a general pet check-up most vets conduct a physical examination. Physical exams for pets usually consist of a "nose-to-tail" check. Your vet may move along your pet's body inspecting the mouth, paws, skin, coat, and even the tail —among other areas. For instance, your pet's mouth and teeth are very important to keep clean and healthy. Did you know that 8 out of 10 dogs are afflicted with dental problems, and the bacteria from the mouth can be carried to other organs and cause infections? Also, your vet will most likely check your pet's skin and coat, the largest organ of the body. A dull coat could be a sign of something wrong in your pet's body, so making sure your pet has healthy skin is essential. For senior pets, it's imperative to make sure there are no signs of conditions that older pets get like arthritis or other joint problems, so your vet may spend some time checking joints and bones. In the end, your vet may recommend products for your pet's health and longevity, like omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, or glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints.
In addition, your vet will want to make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations; another reason why pets should have routine vet visits. Vaccinations are important because they protect your pet against fatal diseases, and help keep other animals in your house safe (and even you, if your pet has a zoonotic disease). Recently, many pet owners have stopped vaccinating their pets due to the belief of " the over-vaccination of pets". However, many vets still believe vaccinating is crucial to your pet's well-being. In fact, veterinarians are promoting vaccines as the topic of discussion for World Vet Day. Each year, on the last Saturday of April, vets from around the world seek to raise awareness about a particular theme, and this year it's vaccinations for dogs and cats. The goal is to highlight that many pets are at risk because their owners haven't been following up on vaccinations. This goes for puppies and kittens, as well as older dogs and cats that haven't had their latest vaccinations.
If you are unsure whether your pet is due for his or her next vaccine, check out our Vaccination Schedule created by Dr. Michael Dym, DVM.