Preventive Care: Why Does My Pet Need a Checkup?

As pet parents, we want our pets to live the longest, happiest and healthiest lives possible with us. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association's preventive care guidelines say that dogs and cats should visit the veterinarian at least annually; in many cases, more frequent healthy-pet checkups are necessary. Below, learn more about the importance of bringing your pet to the veterinarian for checkups, as well as some surprising things that may prompt a visit to the veterinarian.

Healthy-Pet Checkups

Reviewed by Dr. Peter Kintzer

Not sure your dog or cat needs to go to the vet? Check out this video!

Healthy-Pet Checkups

Reviewed by Dr. Peter Kintzer

It’s actually really important to have your pet examined, blood work and all, at least once a year. Why? Think about it: as humans age, checkups become more and more important in order to monitor for conditions that become more common with aging. The same goes for your pet.

Healthy-Pet Checkups

By Dr. Mike Paul

Most pet owners seek medical care relatively soon when things go wrong with their pet: Injuries, or sudden onset of diseases are obvious issues calling for care. But perhaps the greatest value and need for veterinary attention lies in providing reassurance of the well-being of our pets and early detection of problems before they become critical.

Healthy-Dog Checkups

Reviewed by Dr. Peter Kintzer

While it’s important to start cuddling and training your new puppy early, it’s also crucial to get a head start on your puppy’s health. Depending on your new puppy’s age and expected lifestyle, there are a lot of different things you can expect from your veterinarian.

Healthy-Cat Checkups

Reviewed by Dr. Peter Kintzer

You want to make sure your new friend gets off on the right foot, and this means scheduling your kitten’s first veterinary visit. Depending on your new kitten’s age and expected lifestyle, there are a lot of different things you can expect from your veterinarian. Read on to learn more.

Healthy-Pet Checkups

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Getting a new pet is a big deal and everyone knows it’s important to get off to a good start. So besides buying supplies and making your home pet-safe, what else should you be doing if you’re adding a new, furry, four-legged member to the family? Read on to learn more.

Healthy-Dog Checkups

Reviewed by Dr. Peter Kintzer

Regardless of your dog’s age, you play a key role in helping her combat illness and remain as healthy as possible. Remember, your dog cannot describe symptoms to you, but she can show you signs of disease. Find out some of the most common signs that your dog may be sick.

Healthy-Cat Checkups

By Dr. Phil Zeltzman

Cats are masters of disguise -- disguising illness, that is. Find out ten subtle signs your cat may be sick and make sure to schedule kitty for a regular checkup.

Healthy-Pet Checkups

By Dr. Mike Paul

More than 70% of pet parents say they research their pet's health before or after veterinary visits. The Internet can be a useful tool to help you ask your veterinarian the right questions, but how do you know you're getting "vetted" information? Read on to learn more.

Healthy-Pet Checkups

By Dr. Ernie Ward

To optimize your pet’s next routine appointment, I suggest you jot down your own version of these five simple questions. By preparing questions you want answered before you go, you’re less likely to forget them during the time crunch that hampers many visits.

Preventative Care Package Options for your Pet

Vaccines, lab work and veterinary services that are recommended to keep tabs on your pet’s heath. The goal of preventative care is to stay ahead of the game for any possible illnesses that your pet could be exposed to or to catch underlying disease before it develops into a greater issue.

Vaccinations: help protect your pet from viruses and bacteria that they may be exposed to.

Lab work / Blood draws: can screen your pet’s organs and measure functionality. This can be a key component to detecting early stages of kidney and liver failure or diabetes in your animal.

Intestinal Parasite Testing: a simple method to ensure that your pet stays parasite free. This screening can ensure that you and your family are protected from being exposed to any parasites that can be transmitted from your pet.

Preventive Care for Pets

Posted by Fuzzy Help on June 12, 2019

Your pet is everything to you. A source of endless affection and wet kisses. Loud purrs and morning cuddles. At Fuzzy Pet Health, we’re all about preventing illness, not just curing it, because we recognize the incredible role your pet plays in your life. As a pet parent, you make decisions every single day that can impact your pets’ health. The decisions that ensure you’re doing everything you can to keep your pet as healthy as possible is what we refer to collectively as preventive care.

Does Preventive Care Really Matter?

Preventive care for pets goes beyond the boosters your kitten or pup need to get, and sure, an annual exam with your vet is a good start. However, much like the measures you take to protect yourself against the flu in the winter, the food choices you make to avoid high cholesterol, and even routine activities like brushing your teeth and flossing to prevent gum disease – your pet needs much of the same care to protect them against similar health issues.

If you need a more practical and economic reason to consider implementing a strong preventive care program: proactively preventing future issues will most likely save you money on vet bills, trips to the emergency clinic and emotional distress in the short and long run.

We put together a a list of preventive care basics to get you started on the track towards a happy and healthy life with your pet. Reach out if you have any questions and our vet team will be happy to answer them!

Regular Wellness Exams With A Veterinarian

A regular wellness exam is a full physical nose-to-tail assessment of your pet that checks for a variety of health issues. Having these done every year increases the chances of catching any health issues early on the earlier a health problem is detected, the more proactive the treatment. Older pets, should have a physical exam more frequently. Your vet should take the time to dive in to the other aspects of your pet’s life with you as well - their lifestyle, medical history, behavior, diet and activity levels. They should give you practical tips, suggestions or even praise you for being the rockstar pet parent you are. We recommend a vet checkup every twelve months for healthy pets, and every three to six months for older (ahem, more experienced…) pets, or those with chronic conditions.

Preventive Medications

Much like it sounds, preventive medications are essential to preventive care. Regular doses of heartworm, flea, intestinal parasites and tick prevention help keep your pet healthy and protected year-round. Whether your fuzzy is an outdoor adventurer or the indoor Boss of the House, these nasty parasites can find their way in to your home via you, guests or other fuzzies they interact with, so it’s best to keep them protected no matter the season or environment.

Diet &Amp Exercise

It’s okay…we’ve all shared our own food and treats with our pets at some point. Those big ol’ begging eyes are hard to resist but pet parents – STAY STRONG! A treat here and there doesn’t deem you the worst pet parent in the world, but a pet’s diet is probably the biggest contributor to their longstanding health. In order to make sure your pet is fueled with the proper foods, have a chat with your veterinarian (or if you want to take matters into your own hands, take a look a at AAFCO standards for a complete and balanced diet). A healthy diet prevents dozens of health problems from developing over time, such as arthritis or diabetes. As pets age, their diet becomes of even greater importance.

Exercise goespaw in pawwith your pet’s diet and is important for your pet’s physical, mental and in many cases, behavioral health. Depending on factors like your pet’s energy level, age, breed and body condition score, they’ll need different types and amounts of exercise to keep them healthy and stimulated. It’s important to have a chat with your veterinarian about the right, personalized exercise program best fit for your pet’s goals.

Dental Care

Did you know that dental disease is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases in adult pets? Dental disease can quickly spread to internal organs causing serious health issues and severe discomfort. Vets recommend brushing your pet’s teethat least three timesa week to help prevent tartar buildup and gingivitis. But, just like you and me, daily care is best! If your pet is more than 3 years old, he may also need regular dental cleanings to check under the gum line. We do not recommend anesthesia-free cleanings due to potential harm to your pet.


It’s nice when your pet is looking and smelling fabulous after a stylish cut, but grooming is more than looks. You should be sure to trim your pet’s nails regularly to protect against them tearing! Long nails make it painful and awkward for your pet to walk and stand. It’s also important to keep their ears clean by flushing them periodically to avoid potential infection. As long as you have the proper guidance, you can take care of your pet’s nails and ears at home as often as needed.

The Effect Of Proper Nutrition On Dog Wellness

Overall dog health and quality of life depend heavily on the amount and type of food consumed on a daily basis. Low quality dog food, and treats high in fat or sugar can negatively affect your canine companion physically, emotionally and mentally. This is why dogs of all ages and life stages can benefit from a sound nutrition program, including:

  • Puppies: Generally speaking, puppies may need increased frequency of feeding and more proteins and fats
  • Adult Dogs: Concern for weight management, breed specific and lifestyle specific nutrition choices
  • Senior Dogs: Many senior dogs have health concerns that may require specific nutritional choices

It is important to understand that the above bullet points are meant to demonstrate that the nutritional needs of dogs do change through different stages of life. However, it is also important to understand that the above bullet points are not meant to serve as the basis for the nutritional program for your dog. There are many factors that must be considered when creating a nutritional plan for a dog, including breed, age, health conditions and more. This is why you should discuss the nutritional needs of your dog with a veterinarian at your next appointment.

Other considerations when choosing a diet include:

  • The best canned or kibble diet for the breed, age and activity level
  • Items ok to add to your dog's food - ie some cooked veggies
  • Supplements - what you may be using and what our vets want you to consider using
  • Healthy dog snacks
  • What to avoid feeding your dog

Many clients are afraid or embarrassed to discuss what they feed their dog with a veterinarian. You should always be open and honest with your veterinarian about what you are actually feeding your dog. We are happy to discuss any supplements or treats you may be using and it will help us have a complete picture of your dog's health. This is a great topic for discussion that can allow us to partner with you and take a team approach to optimizing your dog's health. Some of your "people" food may even be a great addition to your dog's diet. However, let us help you to determine the type and amount that is best.

For more information on dog nutrition, visit the dog nutrition page.

Top 10 things you need to know about these guidelines

  1. Get your dog or cat a veterinary checkup at least once a year. It’s the key to helping them live as long as possible. Don’t assume an indoor cat doesn’t need an annual exam or that a seemingly healthy pet can sit a year out—animals can be very good at hiding pain and disease. Additionally, since time seems to speed up in our aging senior dogs and cats, they benefit from exams every six months to help keep pep in their step.
  2. Start a dialogue with your veterinarian. Use the annual exam as a chance to discuss your pet’s wellbeing. Talk about their lifestyle—hunter or couch potato? How much time is spent indoors versus outdoors? Do they interact with other pets or wildlife? Your veterinarian will also tailor a preventive care plan based on your pet’s life stage—there’s a big difference in how to care for a puppy or kitten versus an adult or a senior, for instance.
  3. Bring up any behavior issues. Some people save questions about behavior for trainers (or, unfortunately, “Dr. Google”), but your veterinarian can help determine if there is an underlying medical cause. They can also offer solutions you might not have considered for common issues like inappropriate urination, aggression, or separation anxiety.
  4. Test annually for dangerous diseases. Every dog and cat should have an annual test for heartworm and internal parasites (the dreaded worms!), and cats should be tested at least once for feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus, which can shorten their lifespans and be transmitted to other cats. Parasite infections can cause vomiting and diarrhea and be transmitted to humans. In older pets, your veterinarian may recommend monitoring organ function and overall health with blood and urine testing, blood pressure monitoring, radiographs (X-rays), and ultrasound.
  5. Watch their weight. Pet obesity is reaching epidemic proportions—an estimated one out of every two pets is overweight or obese 1 . Being a fat cat or plump pup can have disastrous health effects, such as increasing the risk of diabetes, heart and respiratory disease, cancer, and arthritis. A slight adjustment to your pet’s diet or exercise regimen can make a huge difference, so ask your veterinarian for your pet’s target weight.
  6. Keep those whites pearly. By the time they turn three years old, 70%–80% of dogs and cats have signs of dental disease. 2 Left untreated, dental problems can cause pain, infection, and inflammation, and take years off your pet’s life. So, smile when your veterinarian checks your dog or cat’s teeth and gums—it’s a vital part of their care.
  7. Battle the bloodsuckers. Every dog and cat should receive year-round parasite control to prevent against heartworms, intestinal parasites, fleas, and when appropriate, ticks. Even if your pet spends most of his time indoors, he can still pick up diseases from these sneaky pests that can fly, crawl, or hitchhike on you to get inside your house. These bugs spread serious (even fatal, in the case of heartworms) diseases that are easily preventable with monthly medications.
  8. Tailor vaccination protocols to your pet. While some vaccines, like rabies, are required by law because of the risk to humans, others may be necessary for your pet’s lifestyle. In some scenarios, a titer to previous vaccines can be measured to help decide if a booster vaccination is necessary. Your veterinarian will know what’s best for your pet.
  9. Check the chip. Every dog and cat should be microchipped—even indoor cats and fenced-in dogs can escape and get lost. Make sure your contact information is current with the microchip manufacturer, and ask your veterinarian during your pet’s annual exam to “check the chip” by scanning it to make sure it is still reading properly.
  10. Discuss when to spay or neuter. Spaying and neutering provides several health and behavior benefits. If it hasn’t already been done, talk to your veterinarian about the best time to perform this procedure. It could save your pet’s life by decreasing the risk of life-threatening diseases like pyometra (a uterine infection) and mammary, uterine, and testicular cancer. Plus, it will prevent unwanted litters of puppies and kittens from entering animal shelters.

Watch the video: The Importance of the Annual Pet Checkup and How to Prepare For It. Vet Guide

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