Regular Pet Health Examinations
Your pets physical exam is important!
The Importance of Your Pet's Physical Exam Our goal is to help you enjoy your pet for as many years as possible. We strive to educate you about preventative well care and how to manage your pet's medical needs. We are dedicated to the proper care for your pet--a team effort involving you, our veterinarians and our veterinary support staff.
Why you Want Your Pet to Have a Physical Exam:
Unlike when we go to our doctor, your pet can't always tell you where it hurts. Pets often mask their pain; this is a survival behavior learned in the wild. A comprehensive physical exam and discussion of symptoms with clients allows our doctors to detect any abnormalities that can help uncover disease. Early detection and treatment are essential to avoid undue suffering and to prolong the quality and longevity of your pet's life. The doctor may ask about any changes in your pet's body weight, appetite, water intake or urination and bowel habits, as well as general attitude and activity level. These changes may signal diseases such as liver, kidney or heart problems. Lumps and bumps under the skin may seem harmless but can be cancerous. Ear infections, abscessed teeth and gum disease are common, painful conditions that may not become obvious until seriously advanced. A comprehensive physical exam is the basic tool our doctors use to evaluate your pet's health status and to help you make informed decisions about the care of your special companion.
What happens during a Comprehensive Physical Exam:
A physical exam is a complete hands-on assessment of your pet's health status. Our doctors are trained to detect disease by listening (auscultation), feeling (palpating) and looking (visual evaluation). First, we weigh your pet and evaluate his or her heart rate and respiration. After taking these basic measurements, your pet is examined from head to tail while all vital organs along the way are gently palpated. Every body system is checked for disease. During the physical exam, your doctor assesses the risks your pet has for contracting preventable diseases caused by internal parasites (heartworms and intestinal worms) and external parasites (fleas, mites and ticks). You will receive advice on how to prevent these disease causing agents with medications and/or vaccinations. What we check during a
Comprehensive Physical Exam
- Eyes: The eyes are examined with a PanOpticTM ophthalmoscope for cataracts and retinal disease. This is a special ophthalmoscope that allows us to view the entire retina at one time. Some retinal diseases indicate systemic (whole body) problems such as high blood pressure or infections. The eyelids are also be ex amined to check for conformation, abnormal hairs (entropion or ectropion), or any growths or cysts. We may also use a TonopenTM to check for glaucoma.
- Ears: The ears are examined with a special otoscope called MacroviewTM, an instrument used to see into the long and angled ear canal to the eardrum of dogs and cats. Ear infections and parasites are quite common. In some extreme cases, a more detailed view of the inner ear may be necessary. Additionally, we have a video otoscope that can be utilized in the exam room without sedation. We also have a StorzTM rigid endoscope that can be used to visualize the ear canal while the patient is anesthetized. The rigid endoscope can also be used to remove the chronic, built-up debris that cannot be easily removed with a simple ear flushing. Owners who have dealt with chronic recurring ear infections understand how frustrating ear infection after ear infection can be for you and your pet. Many of our patients who have had the ear canals examined endoscopically report a much improved quality of life with few to no ear infections when a regular ear cleaning regimen is followed.
- Mouth: Teeth are examined for tartar build-up, abscesses, fractures, missing teeth and gum disease. The mouth is visually checked for lesions and tumors.
- Heart & Lungs: The heart and lungs are checked by auscultation with a stethoscope and by feeling the pulse. The gums are examined for their color, felt for how moist or dry they are, and gently pressed and observed for capillary refill time.
- Abdomen: The abdomen is palpated for anomalies of organ size and character, such as enlargement of the liver or spleen, change in kidney size, bladder stones, tumors, and intestine abnormalities.
- Skin: The skin is examined for parasites, lesions, and abnormal growths. Lymph Nodes: The lymph nodes are palpated for symmetry, size, and tenderness.
- Nervous System: The nervous system is evaluated by observing your pet's behavior and testing reflexes.
- The External Genitalia: The external genitalia are examined for abnormal discharge, color, swelling, or growths. The prostate gland may be palpated for abnormal size and character.
- The Gait: Manner of walking is observed for lameness and joints are palpated to detect tenderness and inflexibility that may indicate problems like arthritis.
How often is a Comprehensive Physical Exam and Blood Screen Necessary? Every species of animal ages at a different rate, and so does every breed of dog. Generally, large dogs age faster than small dogs. Ask your veterinarian how to plan for your individual pet's optimal life-span. Described here are the 'average' life stages for a dog or cat and our advice for basic well care management.
- The First Year: Begin with several thorough physical examinations to evaluate your pet's basic health and to detect congenital problems that need to be managed. Most animals are born healthy, but some pets are born with heart disease, bone abnormalities, or hernias. Some congenital conditions are not immediately evident, so young pets benefit from frequent visits to their veterinarian. Young animals are especially susceptible to infectious diseases until they build up immunity. Immunization is accomplished through a series of vaccines beginning between seven and nine weeks of age, completed at four to five months of age, and will continued to be boostered yearly as recommended by your veterinarian. Ages
- Two through Six: We recommend an annual comprehensive physical exam and blood screening as indicated. This wellness program helps our doctors determine your pet's physiological 'individual normal' rather than compare him or her to an 'average normal'.
- Ages Seven and Beyond: Age seven for most pets is similar to midlife for a human between forty and fifty years old. At this time, organ systems begin to deteriorate depending on lifestyle and genes. The challenge for us is to detect and manage health problems so pets can enjoy life to the fullest. It may be wise to step up the number of exams to twice a year since pets age about five years for every human year. Good Health for your Pet may Include Periodic Blood Testing Early detection and treatment is essential for your pet's long and healthy life. A Blood Chemistry Screen or Complete Blood Count can pick up a problem before it's caught on physical examination. Early detection of diabetes, kidney and liver disease, as well as metabolic imbalance, is possible with blood screening. Your veterinarian or veterinary support staff may discuss Senior Wellness Testing as part of your pet’s yearly physical examination. Detecting and Managing Disease Conditions Pets with disease conditions require more intense monitoring than healthy pets. Medical technology changes rapidly and visiting your veterinarian regularly ensures that your pet is receiving the very best and up-to-date care. Of course, a physical exam is appropriate anytime you suspect a problem.
Recommended Schedule of Exams and Vaccines
Feline Schedule of Exams & Vaccines
Canine Schedule of Exams & Vaccines