When it comes to the lifelong health and happiness of your pet you will need to provide more than just love. Routine exams, dental care and vaccinations can all help. But how often should you take your dog or cat to the vet? Our Bakersfield vets talk about how often you should bring your dog or cat in for a pet checkup and how wellness exams can help them live well into their golden years.
Veterinary Preventive Care Through Routine Dog and Cat Checkups
Preventing serious diseases, or detecting them in the very earliest stages can help your pet to stay healthier longer.
Taking your dog or cat to the vet on a regular basis for pet checkups provides your vet with the opportunity to monitor your pet's overall health, look for the earliest signs of disease (when conditions are most easily treated), and offer recommendations on the best preventive products for your four-legged friend.
Our Bakersfield vets understand that you are concerned about the cost of bringing your dog or cat in for a routine checkup when they seem healthy, but taking a proactive, preventive approach to your pet's care could save you the cost of expensive treatments down the road.
Annual Wellness Exams For Pets
Taking your pet to the vet for a routine checkup is like taking your furry friend in for a physical. As with people, how often your pet should have a physical depends upon your pet's lifestyle, overall health, and age.
Annual wellness exams are typically recommended for healthy adult dogs, while pets that suffer from health conditions as well as puppies and kittens would benefit from more frequent wellness exams.
Care For Your New Puppy or Kitten
For puppies and kittens, there should be annual wellness exams to help provide the necessary routine care and vaccinations.
During your puppy or kitten's first year, they are going to need several rounds of vaccinations to help keep them protected against common infectious diseases. Recommended vaccines for puppies include distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvo, corona, rabies, and leptospirosis. Kittens should receive their FVRCP vaccine which helps to protect your feline friend against 3 highly contagious and life-threatening feline diseases, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FHV-1) Feline Calicivirus (FCV), and Feline Panleukopenia (FPL).
These vaccines will be given to your young friend over the course of about 16 weeks and will go a long way toward keeping your puppy or kitten healthy.
The exact timing of your pet's vaccinations will vary depending on your location and your furry friend's overall health. Typically these can be done during your dog or cat's routine wellness exam.
Between 6 - 12 months our vets recommend having your puppy or kitten spayed or neutered in order to prevent a host of diseases and undesirable behaviors as well as unwanted litters.
Your Adult Pet Between the Ages of 1 and 7
If you have a healthy, active adult dog or cat between 1 - 7 years old, yearly routine vet checkups are recommended. These examinations are annual physical checkups that are done while your pet seems completely healthy.
During your adult dog or cat's checkup, your vet will perform a head-to-tail examination of your pet to look for early signs of illness or other issues, such as tooth decay, joint pain or parasites.
Your veterinarian will also administer any required vaccines, speak to you about your dog or cat's diet and nutritional requirements, recommend appropriate parasite protection and discuss any training or behavioral issues you may be noticing.
If your vet detects any signs of developing health issues during this wellness exam they will discuss their findings with you and recommend the next steps.
Pets Entering Their Golden Years
Dogs are typically considered senior or geriatric when they are about 8 years old, except in the case of giant breeds. Dogs such as Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Mastiffs and Saint Bernards age more quickly than other breeds and will require more frequent preventive care earlier, typically starting around 5 years of age.
Once a cat reaches the age of 11 they will be considered a senior.
Since many animal diseases and injuries tend to be more common in older pets we recommend taking your senior dog or cat to the vet every 6 months. Twice-yearly wellness exams for your senior pet will include all of the checks and advice mentioned above, but with a few added diagnostic tests to provide extra insight into your pet's overall health.
Some diagnostic tests we recommend for our senior patients include blood tests and urinalysis to check for early signs of problems such as kidney disease or diabetes. Your vet may also begin to look for the signs and symptoms of cancer at this stage.
Geriatric care for pets also includes a more proactive approach to keeping your dog or cat comfortable as age-related issues such as joint pain become more common. This may include starting your dog or cat on medication or supplements to help manage pain and age-related conditions. Your vet will be able to help you determine how often your senior pet should be having routine vet checkups.
Emergency Care For Pets
Unfortunately, even with ongoing routine care and cat or dog wellness exams, your pet can experience situations and circumstances that may require urgent or emergency care.
If your pet is showing symptoms including a swollen belly, difficulty breathing, blood in their vomit or stool, or persistent vomiting or diarrhea that lasts for more than 24 hours, please contact our vets in Bakersfield for emergency care.
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.