If you've never taken your pet for a routine exam, you might be curious about what to expect. Our Douglasville Veterinary Hospital located in Douglasville will explain what happens during a routine veterinary exam and why it's important for your pet's health.
What Happens at a Vet Appointment
Understanding what happens during a routine exam can help make the experience stress-free and enjoyable for both you and your pet.
When You Arrive
When you and your pet arrive at the veterinary hospital, you may walk into the reception area to check in or be asked to call upon arrival. The receptionist will take your and your pet's name and ask you to wait while a room is prepared for your pet.
Once a clean examination room is available, you will be escorted to the examination room. A veterinary technician, nurse, or staff member will ask you questions about your pet's health and medical history. Your answers will be recorded for review. You may be asked about your pet's diet, exercise routine, lifestyle, thirst levels, urination, bowel movements, and behavior.
The person taking your pet's medical history may also conduct a casual examination to obtain additional details to include in the notes for your vet.
Your Pet's Checkup
Your veterinarian will then review the notes before beginning your pet's examination. They may ask you additional questions and listen to your concerns about your pet's health, symptoms, or behavior.
If requested, you may have been asked to bring a fresh sample of your pet's feces for a fecal exam to check for intestinal parasites. Fecals can help your vet identify parasites that are otherwise hard to detect.
During the examination, your veterinarian will perform a physical exam on your pet, which typically includes the following and more:
- Checking your animal's weight, stance, and gait
- Testing your pet's temperature
- Checking your pet's eyes for signs of redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- Feeling along your pet's body (palpating) for any signs of illness such as swelling, evidence of lameness such as limited range of motion, and signs of pain
- Looking at your pet's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
- Looking at your pet's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Inspecting the pet's coat for overall condition, dandruff, or abnormal hair loss
- Examining the condition of your pet's teeth for any indications of periodontal disease, damage or decay
- Listening to your pet's heart and lungs
- Examining your dog or cat's skin for a range of issues from dryness to parasites to lumps and bumps (particularly in skin folds)
- Palpate your pet's abdomen to access whether the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
If your vet doesn't find any issues during your dog or cat's physical exam, the list of checks and tests they have to run will fly by quickly. Your vet may even maintain a conversation with you as they go through the process. If your vet finds anything that they are concerned about, they will be sure to take the time to explain what they have noticed and recommend what the next steps or treatments would be.
Vaccinations & Parasite Prevention
After the physical examination, your vet will review your pet's history and discuss vaccines and parasite prevention with you. If your pet needs any vaccines, a qualified staff member will administer them. In most cases, pets don't notice getting a vaccine, and the process is fast and painless. During your pet's wellness exam, they will receive annual vaccinations according to their appropriate schedule.
Additional Testing Recommended for Some Pets
In addition to the basics, your vet may also recommend additional wellness testing for your pet. When making the decision about whether to have your pet undergo additional testing, it's important to remember that the early detection and treatment of a disease is always less expensive and less invasive than treating an advanced condition.
The following tests screen for a range of conditions and can help detect the very earliest signs of illness before symptoms appear:
- Complete blood count (CDC)
- Thyroid hormone testing
If your pet is a senior animal or a giant breed dog, more detailed diagnostic testing may also be recommended including x-rays and other imaging.
At The End of Your Pet's Exam
After completing the testing and examination, your vet will administer your pet's annual vaccines and discuss any findings with you.
If they find signs of injury or illness, your veterinarian will explain the diagnosis and discuss treatment options.
If your pet is generally healthy, the discussion might focus on improving their diet and exercise, oral health care, and parasite prevention.
How Often to Visit Your Vet
The recommended frequency of your pet's physical checkups depends on their age and medical history.
If your pet is healthy but has a history of illness, it may need to see the vet twice a year or more to stay healthy. Your vet will recommend how often your pet should come in for wellness exams.
Puppies and kittens are more susceptible to diseases, so your vet may recommend monthly checkups for the first few months of their lives. These visits will also allow your vet to administer their complete series of vaccinations.
Adult dogs and cats without a history of illness should have an annual wellness exam. However, senior dogs, cats, and giant breed dogs are at higher risk of many conditions and may require twice-yearly exams to detect early signs of illness.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.