Our pets are a part of our family, and every owner wants to ensure that their pets are in the very best of health. Most conditions that animals are susceptible to have no obvious signs early in the illness. Once they do present themselves, many pets may already be suffering and may then require extensive medical assistance. Your pet is not able to tell you what is wrong, but our examinations aim to discover the source of any problem or indeed prevent them before they arise.
To help keep your pet in optimum health we recommend full nose to tail wellness examinations at least once per year, every 6 months for all of our senior pets. If you have recently purchased a pet, then we strongly recommend that you book an appointment for their first examination within the first few days to weeks of ownership. Younger animals are more vulnerable to illness and this will allow us to reassure you of their health and give us a starting point for their medical records.
Your pet’s comprehensive physical examination will include some or all of the following:
- Temperature and weight
- Your pet will be weighed during his or her exam so we can keep careful track of their condition. Weight loss or gain can indicate disease so we take these things seriously!
- Temperatures are taken rectally by one of our experienced veterinary nurses at the beginning of the exam.
- Temperatures are very important, as some pets can be feverish which can indicate a more serious disease. We do not want to administer vaccines to pets that are running a fever, but some pets will be understandably anxious at the doctor’s office which makes their temperatures rise slightly!
- A temperature above 102.5 can be considered a fever.
- Eyes, ears, and mouth
- Your pet’s eyes will be examined, looking for discharge, redness or opacities in the eye. Several tests may be done, including looking at the optic nerve, light responses, and vision tests.
- The ears are inspected for redness, discharge, odor, or irritations in the ear canal. We also look for growths or parasites in that area.
- An oral exam is performed looking at the health of their teeth, inspecting for any growths, ulcers, congenital issues or dental disease.
- Heart and Lungs
- We listen to your pet’s heart for abnormal sounds, beats or rhythms. We also feel their pulses to make sure they are strong. This is the point where we can identify concerns like heart murmurs
- We listen to the lungs for sounds of crackles or wheezing or other abnormalities, which can indicate lung or heart diseases. We may feel along your pet’s throat to check for a cough as well
- Abdomen and skin
- We palpate your pet’s abdomen feeling for swelling or thickening of the liver, spleen or other organs. In cats, we can often feel their kidneys and will palpate them as well. Sometimes we identify gas or other concerns with their intestines as well. Bladders can be felt in many cases.
- While examining your dog we often feel for swellings, masses or skin diseases to bring to your attention. We may check for fleas if we are suspicious of external parasites.
- Examining the condition of the coat and skin - this can indicate the overall health of the animal.
- Bones and joints
- We palpate joints to check for swelling, heat or thickening, as these signs can indicate problems such as ligament injuries or arthritis.
- We also feel for movement of the small kneecap bone, which in small dogs is often loose and can slide out of place causing problems walking or running
- Certain limbs and joints can be flexed looking for pain or decreased range of motion which can further indicate the source of limping or stiffness
- Full dental check-up including looking for any signs of periodontal disease, as well as any issues with the mouth
- Dental care for pets is very important as poor dental hygiene can worsen many conditions, including diabetes mellitus and kidney disease and may predispose pets to the development of liver disease as well
- Blood tests
- An important part of any checkup may include running blood work. This allows us to look “under the hood” so to speak, and identify problems with specific organs or metabolic imbalances
- We recommend blood work done at least yearly to check for issues – many times we have caught diseases so early there were no outward signs!
- Fecal testing is required and so you may be asked to provide a stool sample from your pet. Fecal testing is vital to allow your veterinarian to check for internal parasites which live in your pets’ gastrointestinal tract. These parasites can be deadly in pets and some can cause health problems for humans. Examples include roundworms and hookworms.