You may be tempted to skip your pet’s annual wellness screening if they seem healthy, but these visits are extremely important to their overall health and wellbeing. Our Town and Country Animal Hospital team wants to explain how your pet can benefit from regular wellness screenings to ensure they get the care they need to live a long, healthy life. 

#1: Regular wellness screenings help foster a relationship with your veterinarian

Proper veterinary care should be tailored for each pet to provide care specific to their needs, lifestyle, and health concerns. When we see your pet on a regular basis, we get to know you and them so we can devise a health care program that ensures their individual needs are met. These visits also provide a time when you can ask questions about your pet’s health or behavior, and we can take the time to address your concerns appropriately.

#2: Regular wellness screenings help your pet maintain a healthy weight

Obesity is an increasing problem in the United States, affecting humans and pets. While you may not think a few extra pounds will cause a problem for your pet, overweight pets are at higher risk for serious health complications such as cancer, endocrine disorders, kidney disease, and arthritis. When you bring your pet in for a wellness screening, we assess their weight status, and track this status to ensure they stay at a healthy weight. In addition to weighing your pet, we evaluate their body conditioning score, which is a better method to determine whether their weight is acceptable. If we determine your pet is overweight, we will formulate a weight loss strategy to help them safely lose the excess pounds. Conversely, if your pet is underweight, we will perform diagnostics to determine if an underlying health condition is causing the weight loss. 

#3: Regular wellness screenings help detect pet diseases early

When a pet is sick or injured, they frequently hide any signs of problems to avoid appearing vulnerable. Your pet’s ancestors developed this trait to protect themselves from predators, and this instinct is hard-wired into your pet. This means they may not show signs indicating an illness until the condition is advanced. Regular wellness screenings help detect health complications in the early stages when they are easier to treat, and the prognosis for your pet is better. Diagnostics used to detect problems include:

  • Physical examination — We perform a thorough physical examination, evaluating your pet from nose to tail. Conditions we can find on a typical physical examination include:
  • Cataracts — Cataracts can cause your pet to lose their vision, and if the process occurs gradually, many pets adapt so well their owner doesn’t realize they are blind. We evaluate your pet’s eyes to help detect any issues, such as cataracts.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes — Enlarged lymph nodes can indicate conditions such as infection, tick-borne illness, and cancer. We carefully palpate your pet’s lymph nodes to detect abnormalities. 
  • Heart abnormalities — We listen to your pet’s heart, allowing us to detect conditions such as heart murmurs or arrhythmias.
  • Abdominal masses — We palpate your pet’s abdomen to assess their organs and determine if an abdominal mass is present.
  • Blood work — We perform blood work to assess your pet’s overall health status and check for parasites. These tests include:
  • Complete blood count (CBC) — A CBC assesses your pet’s red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets to detect conditions such as infection, inflammation, certain cancers, and clotting disorders. 
  • Biochemistry profile — A biochemistry profile assesses numerous body systems to detect conditions such as liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and electrolyte abnormalities.
  • Heartworm and tick test — We perform a test to ensure your pet isn’t affected by heartworm disease or tick-borne illnesses. 
  • Urinalysis — We perform a urinalysis to assess your pet’s urine color, content, pH, and concentration to detect conditions such as diabetes, urinary calculi, urinary tract infections, and kidney disease.
  • Fecal exam — We assess your pet’s fecal sample to detect intestinal parasites.

#4: Regular wellness screenings help prevent pet dental disease

Dental disease can cause significant health problems, including painful teeth, tooth root infections, and missing teeth. In addition, if the bacteria causing the problem enter your pet’s bloodstream, the pathogens can damage organs throughout your pet’s body. During a wellness screening, we evaluate your pet’s mouth and determine if they are affected by dental disease. If we see signs, such as bad breath and red, swollen gums, we may recommend a professional veterinary dental cleaning to address the issue.

#5: Regular wellness screenings help detect pet age-related problems

Pets age faster than humans. Cats and small dogs reach senior status at about 7 years of age, and large-breed dogs become seniors at about 5 to 6 years of age. Senior pets are at higher risk for health complications, and they should be evaluated by a veterinary professional every six months. Common senior pet health problems include:

  • Arthritis — Arthritis can cause significant pain and decreased mobility. Several treatments are available to help address the problem, and during a wellness screening, we assess your pet’s joint range of motion to determine if they are affected.
  • Cognitive dysfunction — Cognitive dysfunction causes a pet to lose their mental acuity and leads to increased anxiety and behavioral problems. We ask pointed questions to determine your pet’s mental state.
  • Thyroid disease — Many senior pets suffer from thyroid disease, and we may recommend a thyroid panel to determine if your pet is affected. 

Regular wellness screenings have many benefits, such as improving your pet’s quality of life and increasing their longevity. If you would like to schedule a wellness screening, contact our Town and Country Animal Hospital so we can help your pet live a long and healthy life.