Scheduling your pet’s wellness exam may seem unnecessary, but these visits are a vital part of your pet’s health care plan and help optimize their quantity and quality of life. Our Alpine Animal Hospital team wants to ensure your pet has a happy, healthy, and productive life, and we explain what to expect during a routine wellness exam and why these visits are so important.

Why does my pet need regular wellness screenings?

Pets instinctively hide vulnerabilities, such as pain and illness, and often show no disease signs until their condition has advanced. Regular wellness screenings help our veterinary team detect serious health complications in the early stages when they are easier to manage, and allow us to establish a normal baseline for your pet to assist with diagnoses throughout their life.

How often does my pet need a wellness screening?

Frequency recommendations for wellness screenings depend on your pet’s age:

  • Puppies and kittens — Puppies and kittens need wellness care about every three to four weeks, starting when they are 6 to 8 weeks old and ending when they are 16 to 20 weeks old. 
  • Adult pets — After your pet’s last puppy or kitten visit, they should be evaluated by a veterinary professional about once a year.
  • Senior pets — Senior pets are at higher risk for health issues, and they should receive wellness care about every six months. 

What does a veterinary wellness screening involve?

A wellness screening is a comprehensive examination to thoroughly assess your pet’s health. These visits involve:

  • History — Our team asks you to provide a detailed history about your pet, including diet, activity level, behavior, and any changes you’ve noticed.
  • Weight assessment — Our team weighs your pet and evaluates their body condition score to ensure they are at a healthy weight. 
  • Temperature, pulse, and respiration rate (TPR) — We take your pet’s temperature and measure your pet’s pulse and respiration rate.
  • Ophthalmic exam — We use an ophthalmoscope to examine your pet’s eyes for abnormalities such as cataracts and uveitis.
  • Ear exam — We evaluate your pet’s ears for discharge, inflammation, odor, swelling, and debris, which can indicate infection or that parasites are present.
  • Dental exam — Our team performs an oral exam, and we may recommend a professional veterinary dental cleaning if we detect periodontal disease.
  • Auscultation — We listen to your pet’s heart and lungs with a stethoscope to detect issues such as lung congestion and heart murmurs and arrhythmias. 
  • Abdominal palpation — Our team palpates your pet’s abdomen, checking for pain, fluid accumulation, changes in organ size, and abdominal masses.
  •  Skin assessment — We evaluate your pet’s skin and hair coat, looking for hair loss, lumps and bumps, inflammation, and evidence of itching.
  • Orthopedic examination — Our team evaluates your pet’s gait, palpates their limbs, and manipulates their joints to check for pain and normal range of motion.
  • Complete blood count (CBC) — We perform a CBC to assess your pet’s red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
  • Biochemistry profile — Our team pulls blood for a biochemistry profile to evaluate your pet’s electrolytes, organ health, and other important bodily functions.
  • Urinalysis — We evaluate your pet’s urine, checking for abnormalities that may indicate diabetes, kidney disease, urinary crystals, and urinary tract infection.
  • Fecal check — Fecal exams are important to check for intestinal parasites, such as hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, giardia, and coccidia.
  • Heartworm tests — Pets older than 7 months should be tested for heartworms before starting a prevention regimen, and adult dogs should be tested annually. Some tests also screen for tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease.
  • Vaccines — Your pet’s wellness screening is the perfect time to administer their vaccinations so they are up to date. Our team assesses your pet’s lifestyle to determine an appropriate vaccination protocol. 
  • Parasite prevention — All pets, including those who live solely indoors, should receive year-round parasite protection against fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites. Our team will devise an appropriate parasite prevention plan based on your pet’s specific needs.
  • Microchip — Microchipping your pet greatly improves their odds of being found should they go missing. If your pet isn’t microchipped, their wellness visit is a perfect time to perform this easy procedure.

How do I prepare for my pet’s wellness screening?

Preparing for your pet’s wellness screening helps ensure you and your pet get the most out of the visit. Recommendations include:

  • If your pet has been cared for at another veterinary practice, bring their medical records, or have them forwarded to our Alpine Animal Hospital, so we know the vaccines that your pet needs and we don’t duplicate diagnostic tests.
  • Make a list of your pet’s medications and supplements, as well as all the food, including treats, you give your pet. 
  • Collect a fresh stool sample, if possible, for the fecal check.
  • Write down any questions you have about your pet’s care, so you remember to discuss these issues with our team during your pet’s visit. We are more than happy to address any concerns you may have.

Regular wellness screenings help keep your pet happy and healthy. Contact our Alpine Animal Hospital team today to schedule your pet’s appointment, so we can help optimize their quality of life.