Bringing your dog or cat in for their annual wellness exam allows your vet to monitor your pet's health, check for early signs of disease, and provide preventive treatments that can help to protect your pet against potentially life-threatening conditions. Today, our Harrisburg vets explain the benefits of preventive care for pets.
Why should I bring my pet to the vet if they seem healthy?
Preventive care is about maintaining your pet's good health and providing the care they need to give them their best possible chance at living a long and healthy life. Preventive care for pets starts with routine wellness exams either annually or twice yearly depending on the needs of your dog or cat.
These routine exams are physical checkups for your pet.
Bringing your dog or cat to the vet, even if they appear perfectly healthy, allows your vet to monitor your pet's health, check for early signs of disease (when conditions are most easily treated), and provide preventive care such as vaccines and parasite prevention to keep your dog or cat looking and feeling their best.
Catching health issues like parasites, ear infections, or gastrointestinal issues early, before obvious symptoms appear, means that treatment can begin early when it is most effective.
How often do I need to bring my pet in for preventive care?
Our vets recommend yearly routine wellness exams for most dogs and cats. However, each pet is different and has different needs (especially as they age). And because of that, the recommended frequency for your four-legged friend will depend on your pet's age and medical history.
Puppies and kittens are vulnerable to health conditions that adult pets can easily resist. This also applies to senior or geriatric pets. You should bring your puppy/kitten in for regular checkups to give them the best start in life (every month for puppies and kittens under a year old). It is recommended that geriatric pets be examined twice a year, or more frequently if necessary.
What's involved in a routine wellness exam?
When you bring your fur baby into our Harrisburg veterinary clinic for a checkup, our vets will review their medical history and ask you about any specific concerns you might have.
In some instances, we will have asked you to bring in a sample of your pet's stool in order to do a fecal exam. We will take that sample and examine it for signs of common intestinal parasites which would be very difficult to detect otherwise.
After these initial steps, your veterinarian will perform a physical checkup of your pet which will usually include any or all of the following:
- Listening to your pet's heart and lungs
- Checking your animal's weight, stance, and gait
- Checking your pet's eyes for signs of redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- Inspecting the pet's coat for overall condition, dandruff, or abnormal hair loss
- Looking at your pet's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
- Looking at your pet's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Examining the condition of your pet's teeth for any indications of periodontal disease, damage, or decay
- Examining your dog or cat's skin for a range of issues from dryness to parasites to lumps and bumps (particularly in skin folds)
- Palpate your pet's abdomen to access whether the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
- Feeling along your pet's body (palpating) for any signs of illness such as swelling, evidence of lameness such as limited range of motion, and signs of pain
All of these tests are designed to detect any signs of health problems in your pet. Because our dogs and cats cannot tell us when they are in pain, these tests and checks help to determine how your pet is feeling in general.
What about getting my pet their shots?
Vaccines are designed to protect your dog or cat against common, contagious, and potentially life-threatening diseases. The vaccines recommended for your dog or cat will be based on where you live and your pet's lifestyle.
Core vaccines for dogs and cats are recommended for all pets, whereas lifestyle vaccines are typically recommended for pets who interact with other animals on a regular basis. Visit our vaccine schedule to learn more about the vaccines recommended for your pet.
Adult pets will need to be provided with 'booster shots' on a regular basis in order to maintain their protection against disease. In most cases, boosters are given annually or once every three years. Your vet will be sure to let you know when your dog or cat's booster shots are due.
Does my pet really need parasite prevention?
Parasites pose a serious health risk to Harrisburg pets. Ticks and mosquitos carry parasites that can infiltrate your pet's body and cause potentially fatal conditions; therefore, your veterinarian will advise you on how to keep parasites at bay. It's also worth noting that some of these parasites can be passed from pets to their owners!
Parasite prevention can help to protect your pet from conditions such as:
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Is preventive care expensive?
Compared to treating advanced forms of conditions, disorders, or diseases, (especially heartworm) regularly scheduled wellness exams will save you money.
Not only that, but they will ensure that your pet suffers as little discomfort or pain as possible as a result of any health issues. The earlier a medical problem is discovered, the sooner it can be diagnosed and treated.
Our vets understand that the idea of budgeting for annual healthcare for your pet can be daunting, that's why we offer Wellness Plans.
What are Pet Wellness Plans?
Pet Wellness Plans at Harrisburg Veterinary Hospital Urgent Care + Surgery bundle all the preventive services your cat or dog needs to stay healthy, including annual checkups, vaccinations, parasite prevention, and more. Then we offer a discounted rate to help you stay on budget, and spread the annual cost over 12 months to help make your pet's regular veterinary care more affordable.
You get the benefit of saving money and your pet gets the benefit of regular preventive care! It's a win-win for you and your beloved pet!
We offer Dog Wellness Plans for small, medium, large, extra large, and even giant breed dogs. Our Cat Wellness Plans are designed to keep both indoor and outdoor cats happy and healthy.
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.