Pets at every life stage need routine veterinary care, and regular wellness screenings are an easy, affordable way to keep your pet happy and healthy, because they provide our 360 Pet Medical team with valuable information that can help improve your pet’s quality and quantity of life. We explain how your four-legged friend can benefit from routine wellness screenings.

#1: Wellness screenings establish a normal baseline for your pet

Regular wellness screenings help our team get to know your pet and establish their normal baseline. Normal values have been established for diagnostic tests, but what is considered normal typically varies widely. For instance, the normal hematocrit count (i.e., red blood cell percentage) in a dog ranges from 41% to 58%. This wide range makes determining your pet’s normal before they experience an illness or veterinary emergency important, so we can provide more individualized care. 

#2: Wellness screenings protect your pet from infectious diseases

Vaccines that protect your pet from dangerous infectious diseases are commonly administered during your pet’s wellness exam. All pets need the core vaccines, and our team may recommend other vaccines based on your pet’s lifestyle and infection risk. Core vaccines include:

  • Dogs — Core vaccines for dogs include rabies, distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus, and parainfluenza.
  • Cats — Core vaccines for cats include rabies, feline herpesvirus-1, feline calicivirus, feline panleukopenia, and for cats younger than 1 year of age, feline leukemia.

#3: Wellness screenings protect your pet from parasites

Parasites commonly target pets, and parasite screening tests, such as a flea comb test, heartworm tests, fecal checks for intestinal parasites, and tick-borne disease tests, are often performed during a regular wellness screening. In addition, our team ensures your pet has the necessary preventives for protection against these dangerous parasites. We recommend year-round protection against:

  • Fleas — Flea bite dermatitis is the most common pet skin disease and causes severe itching and potentially secondary skin infections. In addition, these parasites carry tapeworms and other harmful pathogens.
  • Ticks — Ticks carry diseases, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and anaplasmosis, and female ticks can inject a neurotoxin that causes temporary paralysis.
  • Heartworms — Transmitted by mosquitoes, heartworms can seriously damage an affected pet’s heart and lungs, and can be life-threatening.
  • Intestinal parasites — Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, giardia, and coccidiosis, leach nutrients from pets and can cause gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances.

#4: Wellness screenings protect your pet from undetected disease

Pets often don’t exhibit disease signs until their condition is advanced. A recent study evaluating 221,804 seemingly healthy pets found clinically relevant abnormalities in one out of seven adult pets, one out of five senior pets, and two out of five geriatric pets. These findings highlight the importance of regularly screening your pet, because conditions are easier to treat and typically have a better prognosis when detected early. Diagnostics commonly performed during a routine wellness screening include:

  • Physical examination — We examine your pet from nose to tail to detect conditions such as cataracts, skin disease, heart murmurs or arrhythmias, lung congestion, and abdominal masses.
  • Complete blood count (CBC) — Our team pulls blood for a CBC to check for conditions such as anemia, infection, and blood clotting disorders.
  • Biochemistry panel — We perform a biochemistry panel to detect conditions such as diabetes, electrolyte abnormalities, kidney disease, and liver disease.
  • Urinalysis — Our team evaluates your pet’s blood to check for conditions such as urinary tract infection, urinary calculi, kidney disease, and diabetes.
  • Thyroid panel — Older pets are at higher risk for thyroid disease, and we may recommend a thyroid panel for your senior four-legged friend.

#5: Wellness screenings protect your pet from dental disease

The majority of pets have some degree of dental disease by the time they reach 3 years of age. The most common dental disease sign in pets is bad breath, but many pets suffer much more serious consequences, such as painful, bleeding gums, loose or missing teeth, and tooth root infections. In addition, the bacteria can invade the bloodstream, damaging organs such as the kidneys, liver, and heart. Our recommendations to help protect your pet from dental disease include:

  • Professional veterinary dental cleaning — These procedures, which are performed under general anesthesia, are the only way to effectively remove bacteria from under your pet’s gum line where the most damage occurs.
  • Toothbrushing — Plaque starts forming quickly after a professional cleaning, and home care, including daily toothbrushing, is necessary to prevent bacterial accumulation. Ensure you use pet-specific dental products, since human toothpaste can be toxic for pets.
  • Dental treats — Chewing can help remove plaque from your pet’s teeth. Provide Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)-approved treats to ensure they are effective. 

#6: Wellness screenings protect your pet from obesity

More than 50% of pets are considered overweight or obese by their veterinary healthcare provider. Extra weight is more than a cosmetic issue for affected pets—the pets are predisposed to serious health conditions such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease. During a routine wellness visit, our team weighs your pet and assesses their body condition score (BCS) to determine their weight status. If your pet is overweight, we will devise an individualized healthy weight-loss strategy.

Contact our 360 Pet Medical team today to schedule your pet’s wellness screening, so we can ensure they are living their best life.