Maintaining your pet in top physical shape and optimum health is the goal of every responsible pet owner. It is also your veterinarian’s goal, and together, you can ensure that your pet stays healthy for years to come. Crucial to maintaining your pet’s good health is the routine physical examination that your veterinarian performs on your pet. Why are regular check-ups important?
Early Disease Detection
Check-ups are important because they provide an opportunity to prevent diseases, detect them early, or even avoid them altogether. Unfortunately, many pet owners tend to underestimate the value of these visits because their pets appear to be healthy. However, this may be deceiving since many diseases and ailments, such as high blood pressure or a heart murmur, are often not evident in the early stages.
Feeding a proper diet rates as one of the most important considerations in health maintenance. Its importance lies not only in optimizing a pet’s health, but also in the prevention and management of many diseases. Nutritional counseling is an essential part of the veterinarian’s check-up, and many pet owners use the annual examination as an opportunity to gain valuable advice on what to feed their pets.
Your veterinarian also uses the annual examination to determine whether or not your pet has an obesity problem. Obesity affects almost one out of every three pets, making it the most common nutritional disease among dogs and cats. Through visual assessment and palpation, your veterinarian can advise on whether or not your pet could benefit from a weight-reduction program.
The check-up also provides you with the opportunity to ask questions answered regarding training and hygiene. Obedience training is important for your pet’s health, because behavioural problems account for more deaths in dogs than any known disease. In fact, a well-trained and obedient dog is more likely to live to a ripe old age than a poorly trained one.
Obedience-trained dogs are also less likely to be involved in car accidents and dogfights, tend to be happier, and are less likely to have behavioural problems. Properly trained cats are less likely to have problems using their litter box. The check-up provides an opportunity to discuss training techniques and behaviour concerns with your veterinarian.
What happens during an examination?
Before the physical examination begins, your veterinarian asks you questions concerning your pet’s state of health. This is very important for determining whether or not there are problem areas that need to be addressed. For example, a “history” of poor weight gain or weight loss can provide a clue to your veterinarian that there may be a parasite problem. Intestinal parasites (worms and protozoans) are a common problem in pets, and carry with them the potential to seriously harm your pet. This is particularly true in young puppies and kittens, but also holds true for adult animals. With a simple stool test, your veterinarian is able to detect the presence of these parasites.
After obtaining a history, your veterinarian performs a physical examination on your pet. Starting at the head, your veterinarian examines the eyes, ears, face, and mouth. Examining the teeth is especially important since up to eighty-five percent of all dogs and cats over four years of age have some degree of periodontal disease. Early detection of periodontal disease is important, not only for effective treatment, but also future prevention.
The veterinarian will then examine your pet’s coat, looking for signs of parasites (such as fleas), and ensuring that the coat is not too dry or too oily, which may indicate a dietary imbalance. The veterinarian will also check your pet’s weight. If the pet is too heavy, a change in diet may be required to avoid health problems related to obesity. If the pet is losing weight over time, that could be a sign that the pet has a related medical problem which needs further examination.
During the physical examination, your veterinarian also listens to the chest with a stethoscope to make sure there are no respiratory or cardiovascular problems. The early warning signs of heart failure can be detected in this way. Since more than 12% of the dog population experiences some form of heart problem in their lifetime, leading to heart failure, early detection is crucial.
How often should my pet be examined?
When you don’t feel well, you know it, and you seek medical help when appropriate. Unfortunately, since your pet can’t talk, you don’t always know when it’s not feeling well. In fact, because predators in the wild tend to prey on the sick or the infirm, an animal’s natural instinct is to try to hide health problems, You should therefore take your pet to your veterinarian at least once a year for a complete physical examination. As the life span of a typical pet is very short (12.5 years for dogs, 15 years for cats), and your pet’s health can change a great deal over the course ov even a few months, many pet owners choose to have a physical examination done every six months.
The Importance of a Yearly Exam for Your Dog:
The Importance of a Yearly Exam for your Cat:
Pocket pets benefit from yearly examination as well!
Annual Wellness Testing
Throughout your pet’s life, wellness testing can help us detect early signs of disease even when your pet appears to be healthy. It is also a helpful way to prevent or avoid common health problems. Since your pet cannot tell you how they are feeling, problems may be lurking before anyone notices them. Detecting a disease or condition before symptoms appear, makes it easier to manage or correct the problem before irreversible changes occur. In short, wellness testing is the best way to help make sure your pet lives a long, healthy & active life!
We recommend an annual wellness blood profile tailored to the needs and lifestyle of your pet. Pairing this with an annual heartworm test allows us to extend a significant discount to our clients between the months of March 1st to July 31st.
Pets don’t complain!
Their constant cheerfulness, loyalty, understanding, and amusing antics make them an important part of our lives. These desirable behavioral traits have been selectively bred for over thousands of generations as pets have lived closely with their human companions. Also, ancestral species of dogs and cats were better able to survive in difficult environments if they showed relatively little effect of illness, thereby evading predators.
This inherent lack of complaining can often result in an apparently normal pet. It is not until the illness has progressed to a severe state that the pet can no longer “pretend” to be well and this is the time we usually take notice. Because pets are programmed to cover up all signs of illness, there was no way for these owners to know there was a problem at an earlier stage.
Routine diagnostic laboratory wellness testing of pets (especially seniors) and pre anesthetic testing of younger pets is extremely beneficial in establishing normal values for individuals and discovering illness in seemingly healthy pets. Through wellness testing we have been able to uncover and treat many common ailments including: bladder infections, bladder stones, kidney infection and insufficiency, hormonal problems including thyroid disease, adrenal disease, diabetes, anemia, liver diseases, pancreatitis, etc.