The main reason that regular veterinary exams are so important are because our pet’s shorter lifespan means that their bodies age at an accelerated rate. This means that age-related changes and any illnesses or health problems that are developing will happen at a much faster rate than you expect – and this can have disastrous consequences for your pet if her health is not monitored carefully. For example, it might take years of growth for a tumor to threaten the health of a human, but in the case of your pet, the growth and detrimental effects of the tumor might only take a matter of months.
When you register your pet with a veterinarian or animal hospital, they will recommend that your pet attend annual and possibly semi-annual exams. However, if you haven’t had a pet before, you may well be wondering what these appointments are for, what is involved and how they differ from one another. To help clear up any confusion, here is what you need to know about annual vs. semi-annual exams.
What are annual exams?
As you may have guessed from their name, annual exams are undertaken on a yearly basis. They actually comprise of a series of assessments that are all designed to evaluate the health and wellbeing of your precious pet. Exactly which assessments and services are included will depend on the package offered by your vet, but the following services will be performed or recommended:
A full, nose to tail physical examination. This looks at a variety of the visible aspects of your pet’s health including the condition of her ears, eyes, coat and skin. Any unusual rashes, discharge or soreness could indicate an underlying health problem. Your vet will also palpate your pet’s body to check the size and positioning of her organs, seek out any unusual lumps and bumps, and check the mobility of her joints.
Blood, urine and fecal testing (if required, additional charges could apply). These tests may be recommended and may require an additional charge, but if your vet suspects an illness, these tests provide valuable information about the health of your pet from the inside. Blood tests might show problems such as anemia, infection, diabetes, thyroid disease, poor organ function and more, while urine analysis will often indicate if there is a problem with your pet’s renal function. Finally, fecal tests often show up internal parasite infestations such as tapeworms or hookworms.
Parasite check and recommendation of preventatives (if required, additional charges could apply). Your pet’s physical examination or potential fecal testing will often yield results if your furbaby is already battling a parasite problem. However, in addition to these your vet might request a separate blood test which will check for the presence of heartworms. Heartworms are an internal parasite that can be prevalent in unprotected dogs and, left untreated, can be fatal for your furry companion. If your pet’s parasite preventatives are due, your vet will likely recommend you take care of that as part of your visit.
Vaccination boosters (if required, additional vaccination charges could apply). Vaccinations form an essential part of your pet’s preventative care. However, each vaccine is only effective for an approximate period of time before another dose is due. Your vet will work with you to create a vaccination schedule specifically for your pet and in many cases, the due date for booster shots will tie in with your pet’s annual exam.
What are semi-annual exams?
Semi-annual exams, also sometimes referred to as 6-monthly exams, often comprise of primarily the same elements as a full, annual exam.
Semi-annual exams are typically recommended for senior pets. This is because as your furbaby ages, she is more likely to suffer from ill health. Her accelerated ageing means that it is even more important than before to closely monitor her health. However, semi-annual exams can also be performed on any other age of pet if your vet feels that they would benefit from increased scrutiny of their health and wellbeing.
If you have further questions about annual or semi-annual pet exams, or if you would like to schedule an appointment for your pet at our animal hospital in Gainesville FL, please call our friendly, reassuring veterinary team at 352-289-8540.