As we were sitting in our veterinary office waiting to see our doctor this week, I got to thinking about how important it is for pet parents to be consistent with scheduling regular wellness exams for our furry friends. In addition to diet and nutrition, wellness visits are of the most important steps towards taking preventive measures in ensuring our pets’ overall well-being.
What Happens During the Wellness Exam?
A regular wellness exam for pets is very similar to our own annual checkups that we have with our personal physician. During the exam, the veterinarian will check your pet’s weight, heart, lungs, pulse, joints, lymph nodes, eyes, ears, etc. for any irregularities. Furthermore, you will have discussions about appropriate diet and the nutritional needs for your pet’s current life stage, as well as recommendations for appropriate exercise routines to help with weight management. This is also an appropriate time to test for heart worms and other parasitic problems, as well as discuss the appropriate preventative steps to protect your pet from these harmful organisms.
The importance of the wellness visit extends well beyond the physical exam. Because our pets are unable to communicate about how they are feeling, oftentimes we miss the early warning signs of a disease, allowing the ailment to progress much further before we become aware of it. However, a veterinarian may be able to detect these early signs during a regularly scheduled wellness exam, and provide suggestions for treatment to help manage or even correct the problem before it causes more harm.
In addition to the physical exam, this is a perfect opportunity to ensure that your pet is up-to-date on all of their vaccinations. For dogs this includes the core vaccinations like rabies and the DA2PP, which protects agains the Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza virus. Furthermore, there may be some non-core vaccinations that your veterinarian recommends based upon where you live and whether or not you board, visit dog parks, or participate in dog show events. Some of these non-core vaccinations include the Lepto Vaccine, the Bordetella Vaccine, and the Lyme Disease Vaccine. Ask your vet about whether these are appropriate vaccinations for your canine friend.
How Often Should My Pet Have a Wellness Exam?
There is not one answer to this question as it all depends on the age, breed, and health condition of your pet. For example, in the early puppyhood stages, you should make monthly visits to your veterinarian to ensure your puppy is fully vaccinated before introducing them to training and socialization classes. Eventually, your visits will occur annually until they reach their senior years, at which case you may want to consider semi-annual visits. We recommend establishing a wellness exam visitation schedule with your veterinarian in order to establish the appropriate healthcare plan to ensure a long and healthy life.
One final note…remember that your veterinarian is your partner in protecting your pets’ well-being. We are very fortunate, here at Ashling Place Labradors, to have an incredibly talented and experienced team to work with at Morris Veterinary Clinic. The doctors and staff there have been essential to helping us keep our canine family healthy and happy over the years. We recommend doing research and asking for recommendations as you look for a veterinarian that you can trust with the health and wellness of your pets.