You have a longtime companion who’s always been healthy. Or, let’s say you brought home a furry friend. Your new puppy is going to grow into an amazing family companion. Your new kitten is going to rule your house like a lion. You know about potty training, it’s important to you that your animal has manners, and you are all set when it comes to food. 

husky at the vet

But, in either case, what about the vet? The fact is that all animals should see their vets at least annually for a checkup. Trips to the vet aren’t just about staying current on vaccines — some of which now last multiple years in a row — but also ensuring that your animal has a thorough exam and a record of their condition throughout life. Even if your pet has never had any issues, a history of exams can make a huge difference in the event they need a diagnosis down the road. Not to mention, regular checkups can help you catch things that may fly under the radar, like failing dental health.

With this in mind, let’s discuss why you should take your pet to the vet once a year, no matter what vaccine schedule they are on.

The First Few Months of Life

We would be remiss to not at least briefly mention the first several months of your new friend’s life. You will need to be visiting the vet every 4 to 6 weeks until your pet has received its entire round of vaccinations — including boosters. Once your little one receives their final booster shots, your vet will tell likely you that they are good for a year, unless there have been any specific health concerns worth following up on.

The Adult Animal: Yearly Checkups Are Important

Your pet isn’t exhibiting signs of ill health. He has already been neutered. She has already been spayed. Your dog’s teeth are shiny and white. Your cat’s fur is soft and silky. There’s no reason to visit the vet. Right? 

Not so fast! Before you decide that the only time your pet needs to see their doctor is when they’re sick…read on.

The Annual Physical

Whether your veterinarian offers vaccinations that are good for three years or those that are only good for 6 months — or a combination of both — your pet needs to have an annual physical. You may be surprised at just how much information a vet can glean simply from running their trained hands over your pet’s body.

Included in the physical will be a temperature check, a heart evaluation, and a good look at the pads of the feet along with the ears and teeth. Older animals may submit a sample for a blood panel, allowing you to monitor important vital signs for possible issues like kidney disease or osteoporosis. The yearly physical can alert you to an issue with your pet before it is something that becomes overly expensive to handle — or, worse, untreatable.

Internal Parasites

Dogs and cats can both carry a literal intestinal load of parasites. Hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms are nothing to scoff at. Bacteria like coccidia can also cause gastrointestinal upsets. 

By taking a stool sample to your veterinarian once a year,  you can be sure that your pet is not holding on to internal friends that you can’t see! 

If you don’t think this is important, let us offer one tidbit that might change your mind: some intestinal parasites are zoonotic. In other words, they are transmissible from pets to humans, usually by fecal-oral contact. 

The good news is, if the veterinarian detects intestinal parasites, they can be easily treated. Regular treatment also prevents secondary complications that include anemia, bacterial infection, or digestive issues.

Heartworm Disease

A yearly heartworm test for your dog is extremely important, as undetected heartworm can be fatal. Cats are not typically tested because the tests can be difficult to interpret correctly, so cats should be on a monthly preventative, especially if they go outside.

Heartworm infections occur even in pets that are on monthly preventive, however. Keep in mind that no preventive is 100% effective. Because of this, many veterinarians require a yearly heartworm test to monitor their condition in order to continue refilling your pet’s prescription of preventive.

My Dog Is HOW Old?

Most pet lovers have heard the old adage that a dog year is equivalent to seven human years. 

This is no longer believed to be the case. 

Let’s use a medium-sized dog as an example. The first year of life is equivalent to 15 years of a human’s life. The next year of life is equivalent to nine years of life. By the time your dog turns three years old, he is the same age as a 24-year-old person. Each year after, your dog ages about five human years. Small dogs age more slowly, while large and giant breeds age more quickly. 

Consider how many changes can occur in your body in 24 years. Then in 29, 34, 39 and so on. What takes five years to happen in your own body happens within your dog in a single year. Check-ups are a must!

Cats age similarly, with years three and beyond equating to four human years instead of five. Detecting health issues in your cat before they become obvious can mean the difference between life-saving treatment and hospice care.

Mental and Emotional Health Is As Important As Physical Health

We’ve spent a bit of time discussing your new pet’s physical health, but what about their mental health? The staff at Greenlin may not be trained in how to operate on your pet or repair a broken leg (although we can provide animal first aid), but we are experts in your pet’s everyday well-being!

We have a dog daycare that operates daily, giving your dog or puppy a safe place among friends when you can’t be there with them. Boarding offers your pet a safe and fun place to stay when you are away from home. 

No matter the reason you choose to leave your pet in our loving care, we promise that they will be socially and emotionally stimulated. And it goes without saying, they will be given as much love as they can handle!

Find a Greenlin pet resort location near you, and let your pet discover their home away from home. After all, they deserve to have just as much fun as you do!