You may think your pet is happy and healthy, but regular wellness screenings commonly catch significant problems that can affect a pet’s health and wellbeing. These examinations can improve your pet’s quality of life and prolong their time by your side. Our team at Animal Medical Hospital of Naples wants to explain how your pet benefits from regular wellness screenings.

#1: Regular wellness screenings can prevent obesity in pets

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States are classified as clinically overweight by their veterinary healthcare professionals. This is significant, because overweight pets are at higher risk for serious issues such as cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and arthritis. During a regular wellness screening, our veterinary team will evaluate your pet to determine whether their weight is healthy. This process involves:

  • Body weight — We use accurate scales to assess your pet’s body weight.
  • Body conditioning score (BCS) — A BCS score is a number from one to nine assigned to your pet based on fat evaluation at a few key body locations.
  • Muscle conditioning score (MCS) MCS is assessed by visualizing and palpating your pet at various body points that we grade as normal, mild loss, moderate loss, or severe loss. 
  • Weight management strategy — We will devise a safe weight loss strategy for your overweight pet, or offer advice to ensure your healthy weight pet maintains their fitness and weight level. If your pet is underweight, we will determine the underlying cause, and develop a plan to return them to their ideal weight. 

#2: Regular wellness physical exams can detect serious pet health issues

A regular wellness screening includes a thorough physical exam that includes a nose-to-tail evaluation of your pet, looking for any abnormalities or illness indicators. During this exam, we can detect conditions such as:

  • Eye conditions — Pets adapt well to conditions such as cataracts or glaucoma that cause gradual vision loss, and you may not realize their vision is impaired. 
  • Dental disease — Most pets have some dental disease by the time they are 3 years old, and the condition can lead to many issues, such as bad breath, bleeding gums, painful, loose teeth, and tooth root infections. In addition, oral bacteria can enter their bloodstream, and damage many organs if their condition is not addressed appropriately. 
  • Heart abnormalities — When we auscultate your pet’s heart, we can detect abnormalities, such as heart murmurs and arrhythmias, that may indicate heart disease.
  • Abdominal masses — We palpate your pet’s abdomen to ensure they have no masses, and their organs are the correct size.
  • Arthritis — Many pet owners don’t realize their pet is experiencing joint problems, so we assess your pet’s gait and palpate their limbs and joints to ensure they have no joint pain.

#3: Regular wellness diagnostics can detect serious pet health issues

Your pet may live in the lap of luxury, but they still have their ancestor’s instincts to hide vulnerabilities. Many pets don’t exhibit illness signs until the condition has advanced and become difficult to manage, decreasing their chances for a good prognosis. We commonly perform diagnostics, as well as a physical exam, during a regular wellness visit to detect conditions in their early stages. Diagnostics we typically perform include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) — A CBC is a blood test that evaluates your pet’s red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, and can detect issues such as anemia, infection, and inflammation.
  • Biochemistry profile — A biochemistry profile is a blood test that evaluates several body systems to assess your pet’s overall health status, and is used to detect issues such as diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Urinalysis — We assess your pet’s urine for color, content, concentration, and pH to detect issues such as urinary crystals, urinary tract infections, and diabetes.
  • Fecal check — We perform a fecal check to detect intestinal parasites that can cause health issues for your pet.
  • Thyroid panel — We may recommend a thyroid panel for senior pets, who are at a higher thyroid disease risk.

#4: Regular wellness screenings ensure your pet’s preventive care remains current

Keeping your pet’s vaccines up to date protects them from dangerous, but preventable, diseases. Not every pet needs every vaccine, and our veterinary professionals will tailor a vaccine protocol based on your individual pet’s lifestyle. Year-round prevention medication also is important for your pet’s protection from parasites, including:

  • Heartworms — Mosquitoes transmit heartworms, which can significantly damage your pet’s heart and lungs. Mosquitoes can stay active for most of the year in Florida’s warm temperatures, so your pet should receive year-round heartworm protection.
  • Fleas — Fleas can cause anemia in puppies and kittens, and can also transmit tapeworms. Many pets are allergic to the flea’s saliva, causing a significant, widespread skin reaction.
  • Ticks — Ticks transmit diseases, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis, that can cause debilitating illness in pets.
  • Intestinal parasites — Hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms can cause gastrointestinal issues and malnutrition in pets.

Regular wellness screenings are the best way to keep your pet happy and healthy. Every pet should be evaluated by a veterinarian at least once a year, and senior pets should be seen every six months. If you would like to schedule a wellness screening for your pet, contact our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited team at Animal Medical Hospital of Naples, so we can help ensure they have a long, healthy life.