Vet examining Golden Retriever

Why Your Pet Needs an Annual Physical Examination


When you’re not feeling well you know it and you seek medical attention. But our pets can’t talk, and they can’t tell us how they feel. That’s why it’s often so difficult to know when something is wrong.

In addition to the communication issue, pets are also very good at hiding their illness and injury. They know that slower, weaker, less hardy prey will find themselves at the mercy of stronger predators. So they instinctively do their best to hide their symptoms and appear strong and healthy. By the time pets actually begins to show symptoms of an illness, it has usually progressed to the point where they are so ill they simply can’t hide it any more.

Yearly exams help pets live longer

An annual examination is your pet’s best opportunity for a long healthy life.

Just because your pet appears to be in good health doesn’t mean there’s nothing wrong. Sometimes a thorough annual physical examination will uncover important health issues that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Cats often receive less care than dogs. They are very independent animals and they’re easier to care for than dogs. Unfortunately, that often means they get less routine veterinary care. Cats visit the vet about half as often as dogs.

Both dogs and cats need annual physical exams to monitor their health, and to identify dangerous health issues before they become more serious. With proper care and routine veterinary supervision, your pet can lead a longer, healthier life.

Pets age faster than humans

A year may not seem like such a long time to you, but in “pet years” that one year is comparable to 5 – 10 years of aging for a human.

Your pet’s health can change a lot in just a few months. That’s why pets need routine preventive care. Your pet should be examined at least once a year. As adult pets age, these annual veterinary visits become even more important. Hence, seniors should be examined every 6 months.

The importance of annual screenings

Here are some of the reasons that routine physicals are so important:

  • Obesity and nutritional counseling – We see our pets every day, so it’s easy for us to overlook gradual weight gain. This is even more of a problem with smaller pets – they can go from “normal” to “overweight” by gaining just a few ounces or pounds.  Your veterinarian keeps detailed records of your pet’s weight and can tell you when it is time to take action. Diet and nutrition are an important part of keeping your pet healthy and preventing or managing certain diseases. Your pet’s specific nutritional needs are based on age, weight, activity level, and medical condition. Your veterinarian can provide sound nutritional counseling to help keep your pet healthy throughout its life.
  • Early disease detection – Routine physical examinations can uncover problems before they become severe. As with pet owners, routine blood and urine tests can identify both risk factors and early forms of disease that are not detectable through a physical exam or extensive history.
  • Heartworm – As part of an annual examination, in parts of the country where it is a problem, your veterinarian can perform a simple test to detect heartworm disease and treat it with medication. Routine screening is important because there are no visible signs of the disease until it has already caused serious, irreversible damage. Undetected, the disease will cause weakness in the heart and lungs, leading to multiple organ failure or death.
  • Behavioural issues – Your veterinarian is an expert on animal behaviour. During the annual physical you will have an opportunity to ask questions about training and other behavioural issues that can improve your quality of life with your pet and your pet’s health.

Your veterinarian is your partner in providing the best possible care for your pet. By working together, you can give your pet a longer, happier, healthier life… and isn’t that really what it’s all about?