Adopting a pet is an exciting journey that also requires a big commitment. When you bring home a puppy or kitten, you are adding a family member who will be with you for the next 10 to 15 years. Adopting an older pet comes with unique responsibilities, however, as they are more susceptible to health issues as they age. Your new pet should have a veterinary examination to determine their current health status and to initiate their relationship with a veterinarian. The first weeks with your new furry family member are the perfect time to schedule a new pet wellness exam with one of our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers teams to ensure your four-legged pal starts on the path to good health and happiness. Our team explains the benefits of a new pet wellness exam and what we include in this essential first visit. 

Why does my new pet need a wellness exam?

A new pet wellness exam is a proactive step in safeguarding your furry friend’s health and ensuring they lead a fulfilling life. A Neighborhood Veterinary Centers’ new pet wellness exam provides the following benefits:

  • Establishes your pet’s health baseline — The screening tests your veterinarian will perform at your new pet’s wellness exam help determine your pet’s normal baseline values. Over time, your veterinarian can see patterns and compare baseline results with future testing results, which helps them identify your pet’s potential health conditions before a disease has progressed, rather than spot-checking your pet’s screening test results after they become seriously ill.
  • Identifies health issues — Not all health issues can be detected immediately. Your new pet might be harboring internal parasites or other health conditions that aren’t apparent without a professional veterinary examination. Identifying health problems before your pet exhibits disease signs can improve their outcome and minimize treatment time and complexity.
  • Protects your pet from disease — Puppies and kittens need vaccinations and dewormings at regular intervals up to a certain age to ensure protection from illness and disease. Adult pets also require vaccine boosters every one to three years, so the protection remains effective. 
  • Receives individualized care recommendations — During a new pet’s wellness exam, you have a great opportunity to discuss any concerns and receive care guidance for your new pet. By getting to know your pet at their wellness exam, your veterinarian can tailor care recommendations specifically to help you meet your new pet’s health, nutritional, and behavioral needs. 
  • Creates a relationship with your pet’s veterinary team — When you bring your new pet in for a wellness exam, you are building your and your pet’s important relationship with your veterinarian. This rapport ensures that your veterinarian is well-acquainted with your pet’s medical history and can make the best possible decisions for their wellbeing throughout your furry pal’s life. 

What does a new pet wellness exam include?

During your new pet’s wellness exam, your Neighborhood Veterinary Centers veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination. Depending on your pet’s age, lifestyle, and health status, your veterinarian may perform the following common diagnostic screening tests:

  • Blood tests — Blood testing provides your veterinarian with a deep look into your pet’s internal functions, and may reveal potential issues related to the liver, kidneys, and other organs. Blood testing usually includes:
    • Complete blood count (CBC) — A CBC evaluates and quantifies your pet’s red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. A CBC commonly detects anemia, blood loss, blood-based cancers (e.g., lymphoma, leukemia), infection, and inflammation, and can also indicate immune-mediated diseases.
    • Blood chemistry panel — A blood chemistry panel evaluates your pet’s organ function and can help determine their hydration status. Important blood chemistry panel results include kidney and liver function, and blood sugar and serum protein levels.
  • Fecal tests — Your veterinarian may ask you to bring in your new pet’s fresh fecal sample. They will check for parasite eggs that can leach your pet’s nutrition and cause gastrointestinal (GI) issues. Fortunately, heartworm preventives can protect pets from intestinal parasites. 
  • Blood-borne parasite testing — Heartworm and tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis, can cause serious health issues and possible death. Routine parasite testing ensures your pet’s parasite prevention protocol is effective and if not, allows your pet’s veterinarian to make adjustments and provide prompt care.

Depending on your pet’s basic wellness screening test results and their age, lifestyle, and health status, your veterinarian may recommend a few extra diagnostic screenings. Additional tests may include:

  • Urinalysis — A urinalysis evaluates your pet’s kidney function and can be used to detect urinary tract infection (UTI) and urinary crystals. Diabetic and senior pets often need regular urine testing to monitor urinary tract health.
  • Thyroid testing — A thyroid test evaluates the thyroid gland’s function and can detect a dog’s hypothyroidism and a cat’s hyperthyroidism. 
  • Blood pressure check — Senior pets are more likely to develop hypertension in conjunction with other health issues such as heart disease.

How often does my pet need a wellness exam? 

After your new pet’s first visit with their Neighborhood Veterinary Centers veterinarian, your four-legged friend will need regular wellness exams to monitor their health and potentially have their care needs adjusted. Each pet is different, and their wellness exam frequency depends on their age and health status:

  • Puppies and kittensPuppies and kittens should have three to four wellness exams between 8 and 16 weeks of age to ensure they’re developing properly and receive their vaccines on schedule. 
  • Adult pets — Most young, healthy pets should have annual wellness care unless your veterinarian raises a health concern or issue that requires more frequent visits.
  • Senior pets — Pets age much more quickly than humans, and a health change can affect them in a short time. A senior pet may need a wellness exam every three to six months, so your veterinarian can detect and address any potential problem early, before it becomes a serious issue.

By taking a proactive approach to your new pet’s health right from the start, you set your four-legged friend on a path for a long, happy, and healthy life. If you have a new pet or are planning to adopt one soon, contact our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers team to schedule your furry pal’s wellness exam.