Annual exams may seem time consuming and pointless to many pet owners, especially if their pet is not due for any vaccinations. However, bringing your pet into the clinic yearly is very beneficial to the health and care of the animal.
Annual physical exams are important for all animals because it is a thorough examination of the pet for any issues the owner may not be aware of. If these issues are detected early, it could save time and money in the long run. Detecting a disease or problem early and treating it will also benefit the animal and lead to a longer, healthier life.
Physical exams start with the technician having you step into an exam room. They will ask several questions to get a good understanding of your pet’s typical health and behavior. Some of the information collected during the exam includes diet, medications, and any atypical behavior or issues observed at home. A few atypical behaviors include: vomiting, diarrhea, accidents in the house, or coughing/sneezing. The technician will also obtain a measurement of the pet’s vitals to make sure there are no abnormal variations to those numbers. Normal temperature of a dog/cat ranges from 100.0 F to 102.5 F. Once the technician has asked all the necessary questions regarding the patient’s health and gotten vitals, they will leave the exam room to find a doctor to perform the examination.
The doctor will enter the room and begin the full body examination. Starting at the head of the animal, they work their way down to the tail. At the head of the animal, they check the eyes for differences in pupils or any changes to the eyes themselves. They check the ears for any debris that may lead to ear infections, and the nose for discharge or drainage. They also check the teeth to look for any broken or retained teeth. Tartar may cause gum disease, or any other problems that could be resolved with a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment procedure.
Next, the veterinarian listens to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope.
This allows them to be able to hear heart murmurs or odd heart beats, called arrhythmias, that may cause issues such as heart disease. They then move onto the abdomen where the veterinarian feels the internal organs such as liver, kidneys, bladder, and stomach/intestines to make sure there are no apparent tumors or foreign objects that could cause a blockage.
The veterinarian also checks front and rear legs for any signs of bone deformities or joint issues, by putting the leg through a range of motion. The genital areas are examined to check for difficulty in urination or abnormal anatomy. The last few steps are checking the skin and hair coat for signs of parasites, skin disease, lumps/growths, etc.
If there are any concerns, those will be addressed during this time and the veterinarian will focus on the area of concern. Ears may be swabbed to check for infections, skin scraped for parasites, and eyes stained to look for ulcers. Other body parts can be worked up to figure out the problems that may have been discovered or brought up by the owner. Once the exam is over and diagnostics performed, the pet has been thoroughly checked over and now it is time for the animal to head home and enjoy their clean bill of health.
Article written by: Lindsey G.