The Importance of New Pet Exams and Annual Pet Exams

Greetings from Mesa Veterinary Clinic, Paws N’ Hooves Mobile Veterinary Services, and San Francisco Stables!!!

Tip of the Week, by Dr. Amy Starr

The Importance of New Pet Exams and Annual Pet Exams

As we enter the New Year, we see many clients acquiring new pets! This is a great new gift and a wonderful addition to your home. It is important, as you bring this new friend into your home, which you don’t forget to bring it in to meet its Doctor within the first week. There are many reasons to schedule this first visit with your veterinarian.

The first, and very important reason, is to build a relationship between the two. The better your veterinarian gets to know your pet, the better care and advice they can provide. As a veterinarian, it is very difficult (and illegal) to give any advice on a pet that we have not seen.

Secondly, it is vital that you obtain the necessary education to take care of your pet’s health over the duration of his/her life. As veterinarians, it is our job to help you take the best care possible of your pet. This means educating you on all of the necessary wellness factors, such as when your pet needs it’s vaccines (babies require a series to be fully protected), how to prevent dangerous parasites (to both your pets and your family), what food to feed, how to potty train, and when to spay or neuter (along with the importance of these things). When looking for a veterinarian, if you are a new pet owner, make sure you find a vet that you can bond with, you feel comfortable with, and that thoroughly educates you on your pet’s needs. If you are obtaining an older new pet, there will be other needs, such as annual blood work and dental cleanings that your vet can inform you of.

A third reason for obtaining your new pet exam is to ensure that your pet is completely healthy! There are many issues that may be found with a new pet, ranging from congenital problems to certain illnesses and parasites. Many congenital problems we find can easily be remedied or managed to keep your pet healthier and more comfortable if they are diagnosed early. Many pets from shelters harbor diseases such as kennel cough and giardia. These diseases may go unnoticed originally but them continue and worsen until they affect other family members.

In summary, this is a short list of some of the important reasons to ensure that your new pet meets its Doctor as soon as possible! If you have any questions regarding this information, please feel free to contact us!


As we start the New Year, I also wanted to discuss the importance of having your pet examined by its Doctor every 6-12 months. Again, there are several reasons why this is so important, and obviously, as pets age it become more and more essential.

The first point I can make on why a semi-annual or annual exam (depending on the age and needs of your pet) are essential, is the fact that animals age differently than humans. As a human, we know that we should be seen by our doctor and dentist at least annually. Our dentists like us to come in every 6 months for our routine cleaning, and our doctors want to see us every year if we are young and healthy, and more often if we have health concerns. Animals age more quickly than we do, averaging approximately 5-10 pet years for every actual year in time. If we are only getting our pets examined every 3 years when their Rabies vaccine comes due, that is like us getting a doctor’s exam every 15 or 30 years! So many things can happen in that time!

It is SO important to prevent rather than treat! “An ounce of prevention is worth a 1000 pounds of cure!” There are many diseases that pets face (including heartworm disease, other parasites, mammary and testicular tumors, kidney failure, dental disease, etc) that can easily be prevented if the correct wellness actions are taken. Once some of these diseases take form, they are very difficult to treat and may result in death. If we can either prevent them or catch them early, we can give your pet the health and comfort it deserves!

Congenital Disease are sometimes hidden! Many times owners are offered internal exams such as blood work, fecal exams, or X-rays on healthy exams as a means of “screening” for any problems. These laboratory screening are very important even if your pet seems healthy. Many diseases, such as congenital liver problems, can go unnoticed until the pet suddenly appears very sick, at which time treatment may be futile. During these screenings, we as doctors, are doing two things: the first is checking for any underlying acquired or congenital diseases that may not have shown up outwardly yet. The second is obtaining a baseline for that particular pet. Each animal (and human for that matter) has its own normal levels of blood work and internal organ function. If we are only looking at the “Sick” values, we don’t know what normal for that pet is and we may not be fully evaluating the situation. Therefore testing on young and healthy animals gives us a lot of important information.

Lastly, another important reason for annual exams, testing, and procedures such as dental cleanings is that as we all age, issues occur and we want to treat these and manage these as quickly and efficiently as possible. If we just consider one topic: dental cleaning, it is easy to visualize the importance I am discussing. As humans we get our teeth cleaned every 6 – 12 months, and the same should happen in our pets. Unfortunately, if we allow the bacteria and tartar to build up to an extent that it can be seen by the owner or smelled by the owner, it has already spread bacteria to the heart, liver, kidneys, and other important organs. Pets can die of bacterial infections on their heart, simply from dental disease.
In summary, an annual exam and testing, and annual dental cleanings are vital to your pet’s overall health and wellbeing. If you have any questions regarding the above information, please feel free to contact us or schedule a consult with your veterinarian.

For more information on our clinic, as well as other tips make sure to check out our website (, Facebook, Twitter (@PawsNHoovesVet), Pinterest and YouTube(Amy Starr) channel!

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