It’s easy to put off taking your dog or cat to the veterinarian for an annual checkup. This is especially true if your pet has not displayed any symptoms of obvious health problems. But just because an animal looks “fine” doesn’t mean they are as healthy as they could be. A checkup with a vet is the best way to detect serious disease in advance, and improve long-term health.
To make the most of your pet’s visit, do some homework before your appointment. Make a complete list of any medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, so your vet can review and document everything on your pet’s permanent medical record. Keep a current vaccination record as well, particularly if you visit multiple veterinarians.
Be sure to also know what type of pet food you use. Frequently pet people forget the brand name and we play the “what color is the food bag” game. Take a picture of the bag with your phone before your appointment. Speaking of technology, phones are the perfect way to document any odd or unusual behaviors you notice with your pets. It is extremely helpful for your vet to actually see behaviors that you might not be able to describe.
Compile a list of questions that have come up over the year related to your pet’s behavior, feeding or exercise. Informing the vet of changes in your pet’s lifestyle or changes in your life (new baby, new house or another pet) can also help with decisions regarding vaccinations, parasite control and other health care.
Tracking a pet’s weight and body temperature over time tells us a great deal about an animal’s metabolism and overall health. Close examination of the eyes, ears and coat also provides insight regarding allergy and parasite issues. Veterinarians are highly trained to palpate or feel your pet’s abdomen, joints and lymph nodes, as well as listening to the heart and lungs. These important annual physical examinations are critical for the overall well-being of your pet.
Don’t put it off. Make sure your pets always have a yearly checkup so they can be around for years to come.
Originally published May 2016 in the Huntersville Herald.