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Home DOG GROOMING Pet Wellness Exams: Costs and What to Expect

Pet Wellness Exams: Costs and What to Expect

by Bella Woof

You know the saying: Prevention is better than cure.

Although it has become a cliché, it is true. Regular wellness checks help detect problems early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. They also keep pets happy and healthy and can save a lot of money on vet bills in the long run.

How often should dogs and cats go to the vet?

The recommended frequency for wellness checks depends on the age of the pet.

Puppies and kittens

Puppies and kittens grow and develop incredibly fast! They typically need to see a veterinarian for wellness care every 3 to 4 weeks, starting when they are 6 to 8 weeks old and ending when they are 16 to 20 weeks old. Then, your next wellness exam is usually scheduled about a year after your puppy or kitten’s last visit.

Adult dogs and cats

Most adult pets in the prime of their lives do well with annual wellness exams.

Senior dogs and cats

Because pets age faster than we do, it’s a good idea to start taking your pet to the vet every 6 months once they reach senior age. This transition occurs around 7 years of age for medium-sized dogs, a year or two earlier for large and giant breeds, and a little later for cats and small dogs.

What to Expect at a Pet Wellness Checkup

There is a lot to cover during a pet wellness checkup. At each visit, the veterinarian, technician and other clinic personnel:

  • Measure your pet’s weight, temperature, pulse and respiratory rate. By doing this at least once a year, your veterinarian will be able to get an idea of ​​what is normal for your pet and see what is changing.

  • Ask questions about your pet’s diet, lifestyle, behavior, and health history. This is the time to raise any concerns you may have.

  • Perform a complete physical examination. The veterinarian will examine your pet from head to toe for early signs of health problems. This will include an oral exam, listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope, examining the eyes with an ophthalmoscope, looking at the ears with an otoscope, assessing body condition (a way to monitor weight), palpating lymph nodes and organs. inside the abdomen, perform a rectal exam, check reflexes, watch how your pet moves, assess its pain, and much more.

Next, the veterinarian will review your pet’s records to determine what diagnostic tests are necessary, based on your pet’s age, lifestyle, and overall health:

  • fecal examination – Most adult dogs and cats should undergo a fecal examination at least once a year to check for intestinal parasites. Young animals are especially susceptible to worms and benefit from fecal examinations at each puppy or kitten visit.

  • heartworm test — Dogs and cats older than 7 months should be tested for heartworm disease before starting prevention. The American Heartworm Society recommends annual testing of dogs, even when they are on heartworm prevention treatment, so that any breakthrough infections can be caught early.

  • FeLV/FIV test – It is important to know if a cat is infected with feline leukemia virus (FeLV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, the timing and frequency of testing should be based on the cat’s age, history, health, and lifestyle.

  • Blood tests and urine tests. – When pets reach old age, it makes sense to perform a panel of laboratory tests to detect diseases that become more common with old age. Veterinarians typically recommend a complete blood count, blood chemistry panel, urinalysis, and thyroid tests (for cats) at least once a year for their older patients.

Finally, the veterinarian will talk to you about what type of preventive care your pet needs:

  • Vaccines – At each wellness visit, the veterinarian will evaluate the pet’s need for new vaccines and vaccine boosters (some may be given every 3 years). It is also possible to check a pet’s vaccine titer to determine if a booster is necessary. Basic vaccines are immunizations that virtually all pets should receive.

    • Basic vaccines for dogs: rabies, distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus

    • Basic vaccines for cats: feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia, rabies

The decision to administer supplemental vaccines such as Bordetella, canine parainfluenza, canine influenza, Lyme and leptospirosis (dogs) or feline leukemia virus (cats) is based on the age, health and lifestyle of the pet.

  • Parasite prevention – Dogs and cats have varying degrees of risk for fleas, ticks, heartworms, intestinal worms and other parasites depending on their age, where they live and their lifestyle. Your veterinarian can put together an appropriate parasite prevention plan based on all of these factors. Many products now treat multiple types of parasites with a single dose, administered monthly or less frequently.

  • Pet ID – Combining visible forms of pet identification, such as a collar tag along with a microchip, greatly increases the odds of being reunited with a lost pet. Once a pet has a microchip, you must keep your contact information up to date with the chip company. Inserting a microchip under the skin is a quick and relatively inexpensive procedure that your veterinarian can perform at any appointment.

  • Castration – Most pets that will not be part of a breeding program must be spayed or neutered. Your veterinarian can discuss the benefits, risks, and timing of spaying and neutering.

  • Dental care – Good dental care is essential for the well-being of pets. Your veterinarian can tell you if your dog or cat needs a professional dental cleaning and recommend appropriate home dental care.

  • Cleanliness – Regular brushing, bathing, nail trimming, hair trimming, and ear cleaning may be necessary to keep your pet looking and feeling his best. Your veterinarian can help you determine what care your pet needs.

  • Daily life, behavior, diet and exercise. – Your veterinarian will give you advice on behavior, diet, exercise, environmental enrichment, litter box management, diseases that can be transmitted between pets and people, and disaster preparedness.

How much does a veterinary checkup cost?

Below are some typical costs associated with routine wellness care for dogs and cats:

  • Office visit/physical exam: $40 – 90

  • Screening Blood Test Panel: $50 – 200

  • Urinalysis: $20 – 60

  • Fecal exam: $25 – 50

  • Basic vaccines (each): $20 – 45

  • Microchip placement: $20 – 75

  • Heartworm test: $20 – 50

  • FeLV/FIV test: $20 – 40

  • Nail trimming: $10 – 20

Veterinary offices should be able to provide you with a detailed estimate of your pet’s expected wellness care. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for a quote before scheduling an appointment.

The cost of pet checkups can vary widely, depending on several factors, including your pet’s age, where you live, and the type of clinic.

The health and age of your pet

For example, a wellness visit for a healthy 2-year-old Shih Tzu who does not need vaccine boosters will be relatively inexpensive. On the other hand, a wellness checkup for a 15-year-old Siamese cat who routinely goes outdoors might include multiple vaccine boosters and lots of lab tests, and those costs add up.


Location also plays an important role in determining the cost of veterinary care. The 2019 Purdue/National Veterinary Price Index shows that the highest weighted average price for veterinary services ($406 in San Francisco) was 1.5 times higher than the lowest weighted average price ($265) for remote rural areas of the big cities.

Type of Clinic

Finally, the type of clinic you go to affects what you will pay. Some nonprofits provide basic care, such as rabies vaccinations, at a cost. Vaccination clinics are also usually affordable, but you may not be able to access all the care your pet needs.

Getting pet wellness care through a full-service veterinary hospital may not be the cheapest option, but it offers a comprehensive service and allows you to establish a relationship with the doctors and technicians you will trust if your pet is injured or injured. sick.

How to Prepare for Your Pet’s Wellness Exam

Being prepared will make your pet’s wellness exam easier, less stressful, and even save you money. Here are some steps to take to prepare:

  1. If your pet has received veterinary care elsewhere, take your medical records with you or have them sent to your current clinic. This will help avoid unnecessary duplication of diagnostic testing or preventive care.

  2. Take pictures or make a list of all the medications, supplements, and foods (including treats) you give your pet.

  3. If possible, bring a fresh sample of your pet’s stool with you, but don’t worry if that’s not possible. Your veterinarian will probably be able to collect a sample from your pet if necessary.

  4. Write down any questions you have about caring for your pet’s well-being. Your vet will be happy to talk to you about anything, but you have to ask!

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Jennifer Coates


Dr. Jennifer Coates is an accomplished veterinarian, writer, editor and consultant with years of experience in the fields of veterinary…

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