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Why Does My Pet Need an Annual Exam?

By August 2, 2018 March 2nd, 2020 No Comments

Have you ever wondered if your pet really needs an annual physical exam? Your dog or cat seems perfectly healthy, so is a regular wellness exam necessary?

You’re not alone—statistics show that while the number of pet owners has significantly increased in the last few years, the number of dogs and cats receiving veterinary care has sharply declined. Recent studies from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) indicate that while regular veterinary visits are declining, instances of preventable diseases in pets are increasing.

It’s important for your pet to be examined at least once a year, even if they appear to be in perfect health. Pets are very good at hiding signs and symptoms of illness, and your pet may be sick without you even realizing it. Many pets hide any signs of illness until disease is very advanced. With regular, ongoing checkups, our veterinarians can catch potential issues before they become painful problems for your pet (and costly for you).

As pets age, every year older is equivalent to several years for their human companions. Depending on your pet’s breed and size, the average pet ages about 5 to 7 years for every human year. Annual checkups become even more critical to monitor your pet for conditions that are common to the aging process.

Personalized care for your pet

Bringing your pet in for an annual exam is the first step to keep them healthy and in their best shape. At Sierra Veterinary Clinic, our primary goal is to provide the best in personalized, professional veterinary care for your furry family members. Our comprehensive annual exams include a complete physical and evaluation of your pet’s age, breed, and lifestyle to determine the risk of potential disease and prevent costly future problems.

Factors including diet, dental care, body condition, mobility, heart health, and preventative care are essential for the health and wellness of your pet. Depending on your pet’s condition and specific needs, exams may also include vaccinations and parasitic disease screening. Senior physical exams evaluate your pet for conditions specific to the aging process.

Recommended Health Screenings

Location in the Body

Potential Health Risk

Possible Results

Teeth and Mouth

Gingivitis, oral cancer, periodontal disease

Oral pain, tooth abscesses, tooth loss, systemic infection, cancer progression

Eyes and Vision

Cataracts, corneal ulcers, dry eye, glaucoma

Pain, progressive blindness, loss of eye


Allergies, fleas, mites, ticks, ear infections, skin infections, lumps

Hair loss, infections, hearing loss


Cancer, Cushing syndrome, inflammatory liver disease

Anemia, jaundice, liver failure, bleeding disorder, cancer progression, death


Acute and chronic kidney diseases, kidney infection, kidney stones

Kidney damage, kidney failure, high blood pressure, anemia, blindness, death

Heart and Lungs

Heart muscle disease, heartworm disease, irregular heart rhythms, leaky heart valves, bronchitis

Poor circulation, congestive heart failure, fluid buildup, pneumonia, sudden death

Joints and Bones

Arthritis, cancer, degenerative back disease, hip dysplasia, torn cruciate ligament in knee

Reduced mobility, pain, progressive disease, paraylsis

Glands, Endocrine

Diabetes, thyroid, adrenal disease

Cataracts, blindness, hair and coat changes, hair loss, skin infections, collapse, death

Digestive, Gastrointestinal System

Intestinal parasites, intestinal infections, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, colitis, pancreatitis

Wasting, abdominal pain, inabitlity to absorb nutrients, cancer progression, death

How often does my pet need an exam?

Puppies and kittens will need vaccines every 3 to 4 weeks, until they reach 18 to 20 weeks of age. At this stage, our veterinarians will check your puppy or kitten for healthy development and check in with you about training, housebreaking, and socialization. For adult pets up to 7 years of age, the AVMA recommends annual physical exams to detect medical conditions as early as possible. Twice yearly check ups are recommended for your senior pets.

What can I expect for my pet during an exam?

A complete physical: A comprehensive check up includes weighing your pet, checking his or her temperature, and a head-to-tail exam. Our veterinarians check your pet’s skin, fur, eyes, ears, nose, teeth, gums, oral cavity, abdomen, paws, heart, and lungs to make sure all is well.

Vaccinations help fight and prevent many common and painful diseases by building essential immunities, and vary for every pet. Our veterinarians can determine which top-quality vaccines are recommended for your cat or dog based on your pet’s age, activities, and lifestyle.

An annual parasitic disease screen is recommended for every annual visit, and screens your pet for a broad spectrum of parasites to make sure they’re free from heartworm, lyme disease, and other diseases. Annual heartworm testing tests your pet for contagious zoonotic diseases that can be passed on to people, and prevents illness in your pet.

Fleas and ticks can make your pet very uncomfortable and transmit bacteria and disease. If you notice signs of fleas and ticks on your pet, our veterinarians can help you effectively treat the problem and prevent it from happening again with a monthly preventative.

Comprehensive semi-annual exams for senior pets are usually more in-depth and may include blood work, dental care, and specific checks for signs of older pet diseases. Our veterinarians can help your pet maintain a great quality of life in their senior years.

Preventative health care for every stage

Annual exams along with recommended health screenings can help your furry friends live happier, longer lives. At Sierra, we provide the best veterinary care to help maintain your pet’s health at every life stage, from puppy or kitten to senior. Are you a new client? Check out our Special Discounts for New Clients to save on your first exam!

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