More than an opportunity to have your pet checked for injury or illness, regular checkups can save you lots of time, money and worry in the long run, as your vet can often spot potential problems before they become major issues. They can also advise you on important diet and exercise points as your pet ages.
Taking Your Pet to the Vet
The ideal frequency of your pet’s vet checkups is largely dependent upon their age and overall health. Kittens and puppies up to one year of age will visit the vet more frequently in order to establish a foundation for good health. They need to receive vaccinations every three to four weeks until they are sixteen weeks old. This includes vaccinations against rabies, distemper-parvo, kennel cough, influenza and Lyme disease for dogs. Cats need to be tested for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus, and receive vaccinations against these and other diseases, including rabies. Your vet will examine your pet to make sure they are growing well and are not showing any signs of illness. They will also recommend you begin heartworm, flea and tick prevention medications. At around six months, your vet will want to spay or neuter your pet and check to see how housebreaking, training and socialization are going.
Adult pets that are between one and seven years of age normally receive yearly vet checkups, unless they are suffering from a specific illness, injury or condition that requires more frequent visits. During the yearly checkup, vets will perform a head-to-tail physical, and he may recommend tests to determine possible conditions if he sees anything unusual. Distemper-parvo and rabies booster shots normally occur during the first yearly checkup, and then again every three years after that depending upon state law. Your vet may recommend other vaccines depending on your pet’s health, lifestyle and location.
Senior pets that are between seven and ten years of age normally receive twice yearly vet checkups. They will receive head-to-tail physical exams, and your vet may recommend blood and urine tests to monitor their kidney and liver health, thyroid hormone levels and much more. Vaccinations may be recommended depending on what your vet sees in the examinations. It is important to notify your vet of any major changes your pet has exhibited, such as increased water consumption or lack of interest in play or exercise, because these can be signs of problems–like kidney disease or arthritis.