The best way to help ensure that your pet has a happy and healthy life is to have regular wellness exams by your veterinarian. Pets cannot tell you when something is wrong; in fact many pets will do their best to hide illnesses. Physical examinations and discussion of your pet’s behavior, activity, appetite, etc with your veterinarian help find problems early, when they are still treatable. Your veterinarian may wish to perform bloodwork, x-rays, or ultrasound based on the results of the examination and your discussion.
“Your observations are one of the veterinarian’s best tools”
Routine blood tests and urinalysis are recommended for senior pets to help detect age related diseases early. Pets of any age should have yearly fecal exams to make sure that they do not have any parasites. Dogs should be tested for heartworm disease annually.
How often does my pet need a wellness exam?
Pets should have routine examinations yearly. It is estimated that pets age the equivalent of 5-7 years for every year that passes. Imagine how much has changed for you over the last 5-7 years! Problems can develop much faster than you anticipate since pets age so much faster.
Traditionally pets were given vaccines yearly. Many vaccines are now thought to be effective for several years and veterinarians often give some vaccines only every 2-3 years. Even if your pet is not “due” for a vaccination, you should still bring them in for a routine wellness exam to make sure that they are healthy.
How a wellness exam works
Your veterinarian will ask if you have noticed any specific problems or issues with your pet. Do not hesitate to share your observations and thoughts with your veterinarian…Your observations are one of the veterinarian’s best tools. Your veterinarian may also ask you a series of questions about activity, appetite, thirst, breathing, urination, and defecation.
Don’t Forget to Tell Your Vet About Any…
• Eating more than usual
• Excessive drinking of water, panting, scratching or urination
• Weight gain or weight loss
Veterinarians often begin their physical exams with an overview of the general appearance and the skin/fur. They may then start examining the front of their patient with the eyes, ears, and mouth. Moving further back they will listen to your pet’s chest to check for any heart or lung problems as well as to record your pet’s heart and respiratory rates. Next they will palpate your pet’s abdomen to feel for any abnormal shape, swelling of the internal organs, or any masses that shouldn’t be present. The temperature is obtained rectally; ear thermometers don’t tend to produce reliable results for our patients. Your veterinarian will then often palpate the neck, back, and legs, especially if they are concerned about arthritis.
After they have completed the examination your veterinarian will discuss their findings with you. Hopefully you will hear “Everything looks great! Your pet is in great health!” However, if your veterinarian finds any problems or concerns they can explain the problems and the significance to you. In addition to pointing out problems your veterinarian will make recommendations about what actions should be taken. This could range from prescribing flea medication to recommending bloodwork, x-rays, ultrasound, or other testing.
Make sure to ask questions so that you understand any problems and recommendations presented by your veterinarian. Don’t forget to make sure your pet has a routine exam wellness exam at least yearly to help them healthy and happy for years to come.