Regular wellness screenings focus on disease prevention and detection to help your pet achieve optimal health and prolong their life. Our Palm Valley Veterinary Center team explains five reasons why these visits are so important to maintaining your pet’s health.

#1: Your pet is great at concealing illness

To avoid being targeted by predators, your pet’s ancestors concealed their vulnerabilities. While your pet’s worries of being stalked by a ferocious beast no longer apply, they retain their instinct to hide illness. As a result, your pet may not exhibit clinical signs until their condition is advanced. Through regular wellness screenings, our veterinary team can detect diseases in the early stages—when they are easier to treat—offering your pet a better prognosis.  During a typical wellness screening, we use the following diagnostic tools:

  • History — Our veterinary team asks you detailed questions about your pet’s habits and behavior to determine if any concerning issues are present.
  • Physical examination — We examine your pet from head to tail, looking for abnormalities that may indicate an underlying condition.
  • Routine blood work — Our veterinary team performs a complete blood count (CBC) and biochemistry profile to evaluate your pet’s overall health, and look for conditions such as infection, anemia, diabetes, and kidney and liver disease.
  • Heartworm test — We test for heartworms to ensure these dangerous parasites are not damaging your pet’s heart and lungs. These tests can also detect debilitating tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease.
  • Urinalysis — Our veterinary team evaluates your pet’s urine to detect issues such as urinary tract infection, diabetes, urinary crystals, and kidney disease.
  • Fecal check — We check your pet’s fecal matter to ensure they have no intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms.

#2: Your pet ages at a fast rate

Pets age at a much faster rate than people. Cats and small-breed dogs are considered seniors at about 7 years of age, and large-breed dogs are usually considered seniors at 5 to 6 years of age. Because senior pets have a higher disease risk, once your pet reaches old age, your veterinarian should examine them at least every six months. Senior pets’ common conditions include:

  • Cancer — Senior pets’ leading cause of death is cancer. If our veterinary team suspects your pet has cancer, we may recommend further testing such as additional blood tests, biopsy, X-rays, or ultrasound.
  • Arthritis — Many senior pets develop arthritis, which can cause them significant pain and mobility problems. During your senior pet’s wellness examination, our veterinary team evaluates your furry pal’s gait and joint range of motion. If we suspect your pet has arthritis, we may recommend an X-ray to assess their joint health.
  • Thyroid disease — Hypothyroidism in dogs and hyperthyroidism in cats are common conditions that affect senior pets, and our veterinary team frequently recommends older pets have thyroid testing.
  • Heart disease — Heart disease is another common condition senior pets develop. During a regular wellness examination, our veterinary team carefully auscultates your pet’s heart, and if we detect a murmur or arrhythmia, we may recommend additional diagnostics. 

#3: Your pet should be maintained at a healthy weight

The majority of U.S. pets are overweight, which increases their risk for significant health complications such as diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, and arthritis. During your pet’s regular wellness screenings, our veterinary team evaluates and tracks your pet’s weight. Your pet’s weight assessment includes:

  • Weighing your pet — We accurately weigh your pet at every wellness visit to determine if they are at a healthy weight, and we track their weight over time.
  • Assessing your pet’s body condition score (BCS) — We palpate various areas on your pet’s body to assess their BCS. This score—in conjunction with their weight—is the most accurate weight status evaluation for pets.

#4: Your pet’s preventive medication should be kept up to date

During your pet’s regular wellness examinations, our veterinary team administers your furry pal’s vaccinations and ensures their parasite prevention is up to date. Preventive medication is important because:

  • Vaccinations protect your pet from disease — Keeping your pet’s vaccinations up to date protects them from dangerous diseases such as rabies, distemper, parvovirus, feline panleukopenia virus, and feline leukemia virus. 
  • Preventives protect your pet from parasites — Providing year-round preventive medications protects your pet from dangerous parasites such as heartworms, fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites.

#5: Your pet’s oral health is important

The majority of pets have some dental disease by age 3, which can cause problems such as bad breath, swollen and bleeding gums, loose teeth, and tooth root infections. In addition, the bacteria that cause dental disease can enter your pet’s bloodstream, damaging organs throughout their body. During a regular wellness screening, our veterinary team evaluates your pet’s mouth to check for dental disease. To protect your pet’s oral health, follow these recommendations:

  • Schedule a professional veterinary dental cleaning — To remove the damaging bacteria under your pet’s gumline, our veterinary team must perform a professional dental cleaning. In addition, to ensure we can thoroughly evaluate your pet’s mouth, remove plaque and tartar, and address complications, we must anesthetize your furry pal. 
  • Brush your pet’s teeth — Between professional veterinary dental cleanings, you should brush your pet’s teeth to prevent plaque accumulation. Ensure you use pet-safe products, because human dental products can be toxic to pets.

Your pet’s regular wellness screenings are important to prevent certain diseases and detect conditions in the early stages—when they are easier to treat. If you would like to schedule your pet’s wellness screening, contact our Palm Valley Veterinary Center team, so we can help your pet achieve optimal health.