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The Importance of an Annual Wellness Exam

By March 29, 2024 No Comments

Routine checkups are the foundation of your pet’s health and wellbeing.

Veterinarians recommend regular wellness exams for the same reason your physician and dentist recommend them – if you can detect a problem in its early stages, it’s more likely to be treated and resolved with less expense, less difficulty and better success.



Unlike humans, pets can’t tell us when something hurts or when they don’t feel good.  Regular physical exams allow us to evaluate your pet’s general health while monitoring for any problems that could become more serious in the future.

Puppies and kittens start their visits at 8 weeks and continue to visit several times until they finish their initial vaccines.  This helps us ensure they are growing properly and help you to address any behavioral, diet, or socialization concerns.

Adult pets should come for a physical every year.  They may not get vaccine boosters at every visit, but they’ll get a nose-to-tail exam and it’s a great time to discuss any concerns you may have or things you may have questions about.

Animal’s bodies begin to change around 7 years so we recommend that after that they come in every 6 months for visits.  Changes can happen much faster as they age so these exams allow us to closely monitor any problems and take preventative action.



If you haven’t been to our practice before, please visit our new client page to learn what to expect during the visit.  Some of the things we discuss and evaluate during the exam are:

  • Eyes — Eye issues can arise at any age and can cause discomfort or vision issues
  • Ears — Routine ear checks can help your veterinarian identify problems that may lead to future infections.
  • Mouth — Dental disease is one of the most common health problems in dogs and cats. We will evaluate their teeth and determine if they need a dental procedure.
  • Skin and coat — Skin issues can be an issue for some patients year round.
  • Heart and lungs — Heart murmurs and abnormal rhythms are often discovered during routine veterinary visits, long before other heart disease signs become evident.
  • Abdomen — Your veterinarian will feel your pet’s abdomen to check for masses, pain, or enlarged organs.
  • Joints — A thorough exam can uncover joint problems, arthritis, or pain you didn’t realize your pet was experiencing. Arthritis is common in senior dogs and cats; however, many owners assume their pet’s decreased activity is simply due to normal aging changes.
  • Nervous system — We will check your pet’s basic reflexes and ask questions about their behavior to evaluate their nervous system.



Yes, we recommend an annual exam for every patient even if you don’t have concerns.  There are several reasons why it’s important:

1) If your pet is on a chronic medication then an annual exam is required to continue to refill it.  This includes preventatives such as heartworm and flea & tick.  Some medications require additional testing such as bloodwork as well.

2) Preventative care can be easier, and more affordable, than treating a disease or condition.  For example, monthly heartworm prevention for a 60lb animal would cost $1600 for 10 years versus heartworm treatment that can cost up to $3000.

3) Animals are very good actors and may not show any signs of feeling ill.  They may not limp if they have arthritis and will continue to eat if they are having dental pain.



Cross Keys Animal Hospital typically sends reminders a month before your pet is due for their annual or vaccines.  The sooner you schedule the easier it is for you to get a day and time that works best for you.  You can schedule it via phone, text, or via our PetPage app!

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