Which Health Tests Are Done at Vet Checkups?

When you bring your furry friend to the vet, it’s like taking your kid to the pediatrician. Your pet can’t tell you what’s wrong, so it’s up to the vet to decode any potential health issues. During a routine vet checkup, a menagerie of tests and examinations ensure that your pet’s health is in tip-top shape. So, what exactly can you expect at these veterinary visits? Let’s walk through the basic health assessments and the more specific tests that help keep our beloved pets healthy.

Physical Examination

The cornerstone of any vet visit is a thorough physical examination. Your vet will check your pet from nose to tail. This includes looking at the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth to assess for any abnormalities. They’ll listen to the heart and lungs, evaluate the skin and coat, palpate the abdomen, and examine the limbs and joints for any signs of discomfort or swelling.

Vital Signs

Beyond the initial look-see, your vet will get down to specifics. They’ll check:

  • Temperature

  • Pulse

  • Respiration rate

These vital signs offer clues to your pet’s overall health and can indicate if something is amiss.

Blood Work

A drop of blood can tell a thousand stories. It’s one of the most telling health indicators. Here’s what vets typically look out for:

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

This test measures red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It helps diagnose conditions like anemia, infections, and blood disorders.

Biochemistry Profile

A biochemistry profile offers a window into your pet’s organs. It measures enzymes, proteins, glucose, and electrolytes. All of these provide important information about the health of kidneys, liver, and other organs.

Heartworm Testing

Especially vital in areas prone to mosquitoes, this test can quite literally save your pet’s life. Heartworm disease is no joke, and early detection is critical.

Thyroid Hormone Testing

If your vet suspects a metabolic issue, they might test for thyroid hormone levels. Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are conditions that can be managed with proper care.


Just as important as blood work, analyzing your pet’s urine can uncover a plethora of issues. It’s a non-invasive way to check for infections, diabetes, dehydration, kidney problems, and more.

Fecal Exam

No one likes talking about poop, but it’s a gold mine for detecting parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and giardia. A fecal exam is a simple test that can prevent a lot of complicated health issues.


Vaccinations are a routine part of a vet checkup. Whether it’s updating rabies shots or getting the annual distemper-parvo vaccine, staying on top of these can fend off preventable diseases.

Dental Health Assessment

Just like humans, pets need their teeth checked, too. Veterinary dentistry has become a vital aspect of pet care. Vets will often examine your pet’s teeth and gums, looking for signs of tartar buildup, gingivitis, or tooth decay. Sometimes, they’ll recommend a professional cleaning or specific treatments to keep those pearly whites in good shape.

Additional Specialized Tests

Depending on your pet’s age, breed, or known health issues, your vet might suggest some additional tests:


X-rays, ultrasounds, and even MRIs can be part of your pet’s health assessment, especially if there’s a suspected injury or an internal issue that needs a closer look.

Eye Examinations

Eyes are the window to the soul, and they’re also the window to health. For certain concerns, your vet might refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist to get a closer look at your pet’s vision and ocular health.

Allergy Testing

If your pet is constantly scratching or has recurring skin issues, an allergy test can be done to identify what’s irritating them.

Genetic Testing

Want to know if your pet is predisposed to certain genetic conditions? Tests are available that can give you a roadmap of sorts to potentially head off future health issues.

Preparing for Your Vet Visit

Whether you’re booking a vet checkup in Seattle, WA, or any other place, being prepared can make all the difference. Write down any concerns you have and observe your pet’s behavior and habits before the appointment. And, of course, bring along any health records if you’re visiting a new clinic.

Young and Seniors: Special Considerations

Puppy and kitten visits might include discussions on spaying/neutering, diet, and training. For our senior companions, vets might focus more on pain management, cognitive function, and overall quality of life.

Final Thoughts

In sum, a complete picture of what goes on during your pet’s vet checkup includes a variety of health tests that are crucial for monitoring and maintaining their well-being. Embracing a proactive stance toward your pet’s healthcare can prevent minor issues from becoming major concerns. Think of regular vet visits as an investment in your pet’s long-term health and happiness, safeguarding them through all stages of life. So, keep up with those appointments—it’s the commitment to diligence that keeps our beloved pets thriving by our sides.