Regular veterinary visits are essential for cats and dogs throughout their lives. We typically recommend wellness exams once a year for healthy adult dogs and cats and more frequently for young pets, senior pets, and those with chronic medical conditions. We also recommend bringing in any newly adopted pet for a wellness exam.
Many pets don’t tend to show signs of disease, especially in the early stages. That’s where regular checkups play a crucial role: They give us a chance to catch potential diseases or conditions as soon as possible. Early diagnosis can provide us with more options for treatment and may also give pets a better quality of life.
By being proactive, we can sometimes even prevent certain conditions or illnesses.
Regular testing of pets, including blood work, urinalysis, and fecal screening, helps us identify any hidden diseases or health conditions. Because certain diseases may have similar symptoms, we use screening tests to figure out what’s wrong and how to properly treat pets.
What to Expect During Your Pet’s Checkup
Puppies and Kittens
When dogs and cats are young, we need to see them frequently to make sure they’re adequately protected against common contagious diseases through the puppy or kitten series of vaccines. We also want to see kittens and puppies several times over that first year to make sure they’re gaining weight and body mass as expected, their teeth and bones are developing normally, and their heart, lungs, and other organs are healthy. In addition, we’ll look inside your young pet’s ears, examine the eyes, and record temperature and weight.
This is also when your Westmount veterinarian will typically perform a spay or neuter procedure. Spaying/neutering can help reduce some undesirable behaviours, protect your pet against certain cancers, and protect female pets against a potentially life-threatening type of uterine infection called pyometra.
We’ll deworm your puppy or kitten several times to get rid of any intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. We’ll also recommend parasite control to help protect your pet against ticks, heartworm disease, fleas, and intestinal worms.
Making sure pets receive the right nutrition throughout their lives can help keep them healthy. We can recommend a high-quality food that meets your pet’s specific nutritional needs. Our technicians will also provide nutritional consult to assist your pet in meeting the required calories he or she needs. We will also assist in helping overweight/obese pets stay on track to lose weight.
As pets move into their adult years, we want to see them at least once a year for a regular checkup. During these visits, we’ll:
- Perform a thorough physical exam of your pet
- Give your pet needed vaccine boosters to help provide continued protection against serious, highly contagious, and potentially deadly diseases
- Recommend additional vaccines to help protect against diseases that your individual pet may be at risk for because of lifestyle, exposure risk, and other factors
- Check blood work for heartworm disease, tick-borne diseases, and breed-specific conditions, such as heart disease or joint issues, as appropriate for your individual pet
- Make sure your pet remains free of fleas and ticks
- Check for intestinal parasites by recommending yearly fecal testing
- Examine your pet’s mouth and teeth and recommend any dental care that’s needed
- Perform a nutritional assessment to help ensure that your pet is continuing to get the right nutrition for his or her breed, life stage, health, and lifestyle
Once pets have reached senior status, we like to see them more frequently. So when does that change tend to happen?
- We consider most dogs to be seniors between 7 and 8 years of age (a bit younger for larger dogs).
- Most cats move into their senior years between 7 and 11 years of age.
Remember that pets age far faster than we do—unfortunately, this is why we have less time with them than we’d like!
Senior checkups help us detect any potential diseases or conditions, like arthritis, cancer, diabetes, dental disease, thyroid issues, and heart, kidney, and liver disease, which may become more common as pets age. The earlier we can catch any changes, the better. More frequent veterinary exams may even give you more quality time with your pet.
At Westmount Animal Hospital, we don’t want to wait until something’s wrong if we can catch diseases early, when they may be easier to treat or manage.
Ideally, we like to begin senior screening (blood and urine tests) at 7 years of age or earlier, so we can get a baseline of what’s normal for your individual pet.
How Wellness Exams Help You
In addition to playing a crucial role in helping to keep your pets healthy throughout life, regular checkups give you the opportunity to:
- Ask us about any questions or concerns you might have
- Bring up anything you’ve noticed that seems different with your pet, like a behaviour that’s new or a lump or bump you hadn’t noticed before
And screening tests can not only give us an early start on treatment, but if they come back negative, the results will give you peace of mind and provide us with a baseline that is normal for your pet that can be used for referencing in the future.
Practicing Preventive Care
If anything changes in your pet’s health or behaviour in between regularly scheduled exams, or if something just doesn’t seem right, get in touch with us quickly. When possible, we want to catch anything that isn’t normal early on.
Stress can make pets more prone to other health issues. At Westmount Animal Hospital, we aim to create stress-free veterinary visits for pets and their owners. Ask us how we help keep pets calm and comfortable during exams.
If your pet tends to be anxious at other times, we’ll work with you to come up with a personalized solution to help relieve your pet’s anxiety.