What Should You Include in Your Pet’s Annual Wellness Checkup?

Being a pet owner comes with a lot of responsibility. It involves more than just feeding and providing comfort to your pet. Amongst these responsibilities is ensuring good pet health. As an integral part of this, annual pet wellness checkups are pivotal. But what exactly should these checkups include?

Essentials of an Annual Wellness Checkup

1. Physical Examination

  • A comprehensive physical examination is fundamental to a pet’s annual wellness checkup.
  • The veterinarian will inspect your pet from nose to tail, assessing overall health and detecting abnormalities.
  • They may palpate various body parts, check the skin condition, coat, eyes, ears, teeth, and gums.
  • The vet will also evaluate your pet’s neurologic status and examine the cardiovascular system by listening to the heart and lungs.

2. Vaccinations

  • The annual checkup is an opportune time for pets to receive necessary vaccinations.
  • The specific vaccines administered will depend on factors like age, lifestyle, health, and potential risks.
  • It’s essential to discuss your pet’s lifestyle and environment with the vet to determine the appropriate vaccinations.

3. Parasite Control

  • Routine screenings and preventative treatments for parasites are crucial for maintaining pet health.
  • Common parasites include heartworms, ticks, and fleas.
  • The veterinarian will customize a preventative plan based on your pet’s location and lifestyle to ensure effective protection.

4. Diagnostic Testing

  • Modern veterinary medicine offers various diagnostic tests that can be included in the annual wellness checkup.
  • These tests help identify hidden health conditions that pets may be unable to communicate.
  • Common tests may include blood tests, fecal checks for intestinal parasites, urine tests, and, in some cases, digital imaging like X-rays or ultrasounds.

5. Behavioral Assessments

  • An annual checkup should incorporate behavioral assessments to monitor your pet’s behavior changes.
  • Behavioral changes can sometimes be early signs of underlying health issues.
  • It’s essential to inform the vet of changes in your pet’s appetite, sleeping patterns, aggressiveness, or fearfulness.

6. Nutritional Evaluation

  • A pet’s annual wellness checkup includes a nutritional evaluation to assess their dietary needs.
  • The veterinarian will discuss your pet’s diet, feeding habits, and any necessary adjustments.
  • Proper nutrition is essential for your pet’s overall health and can help prevent obesity and other diet-related issues.

7. Dental Examination

  • Dental health is crucial for pets; the annual checkup should include a dental examination.
  • The vet will check your pet’s teeth and gums for signs of dental disease, tartar buildup, or tooth decay.
  • Dental care may include professional cleaning and recommendations for at-home dental care.

8. Joint and Mobility Assessment

  • For senior pets or those with specific health conditions, joint and mobility assessment is vital.
  • The vet will evaluate your pet’s mobility, looking for signs of stiffness, pain, or reduced range of motion.
  • Joint supplements or pain management may be recommended if needed.

9. Senior Pet Care

  • For senior pets, the annual wellness checkup may include more specialized care.
  • Senior pets may require additional blood tests to monitor organ function and detect age-related health issues.
  • The vet may also discuss age-appropriate dietary changes, exercise modifications, and other senior pet care considerations.

10. Weight Management and Exercise Recommendations

  • Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for a pet’s well-being.
  • The vet will assess your pet’s body condition and provide weight management guidance.
  • Exercise recommendations may also be discussed to keep your pet active and healthy.

11. Preventive Care Planning

  • The annual wellness checkup is an ideal time to create a customized preventive care plan for your pet.
  • To keep track of all these necessary procedures and to stay organized, it can be helpful to establish a dog or cat wellness plan. A pet wellness plan includes all the preventive care your pet needs throughout the year. This could range from scheduled physical exams, vaccinations, and parasite prevention to specific screenings depending on your pet’s breed and age

12. Client Education and Q&A

  • The annual wellness checkup allows pet owners to ask questions and seek guidance on pet care.
  • The veterinarian will provide valuable behavior, nutrition, and pet wellness information.
  • Client education helps pet owners make informed decisions and better understand their pet’s health needs.

Now, while pets have general health needs, you also need to look out for some specific issues. One such case is feline hyperthyroidism. In this condition, your cat’s thyroid gland produces excess thyroid hormone, causing various symptoms. Monitoring regularly for the symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats is essential for early detection and appropriate feline hyperthyroidism treatment. 

Importance of Annual Pet Exams?

  • Early Detection of Health Issues: Annual pet exams allow for the early detection of potential health problems, increasing the chances of successful treatment and better outcomes.
  • Preventive Care: Regular exams enable veterinarians to provide preventive care measures, such as vaccinations, parasite control, and dental care, to keep pets healthy and protected from diseases.
  • Maintaining Optimal Health: Annual checkups help monitor your pet’s overall health and well-being, ensuring they are in good condition and catching any health concerns before they become severe.
  • Tailored Wellness Plans: Veterinarians can create personalized wellness plans based on pet needs, including age, breed, lifestyle, and medical history.
  • Weight Management: Regular exams help monitor your pet’s weight and body condition, allowing for timely adjustments in diet and exercise to prevent obesity-related issues.
  • Senior Pet Care: Annual exams are crucial for senior pets to monitor age-related health changes and provide appropriate care and support.
  • Client Education: Pet owners can gain valuable knowledge and advice from veterinarians during annual exams, improving their understanding of their pet’s health and care needs.
  • Building a Relationship with the Veterinarian: Regular visits to the veterinarian help build a strong bond and trust between the veterinarian, pet, and owner, enhancing the quality of care provided.


Overall, a pet’s annual wellness checkup is vital in ensuring your pet’s long and healthy life. It allows early detection, prevention, and timely treatment of potential health problems, making it an essential part of responsible pet ownership. Remember, our pets may be unable to communicate their health issues effectively. Hence, regular checkups are our best tool in ensuring our furry companions’ good quality of life.