At Dowagiac Animal Hospital, we suggest having an examination done once a year for your pet, generally along with their annual vaccines. This is a critical preventative measure to assess your pet’s health and catch illness as early as possible. It also helps to keep a consistent medical history for your pet and gives us the ability to continue prescribing preventatives or other ongoing medications.
Below is a breakdown of what the doctor will look for during an exam:
- Overall Body Condition: Thinness or obesity are two factors in overall health . The doctor will also note your pet’s stance, assessing whether it is normal or if they have a stiff gait. Finally, looking over the coat to see if it is full and lustrous or dull will give the doctor additional health information.
- Eyes: In the eyes, the doctor examines to see if the corneas are clear and the pupils are black and even in size. They will also look for discoloration of the sclera (the whites of the eyes), mucous, and signs of inadequate tear production.
- Mouth: In the mouth, the doctor examines for visible tumors and signs of dental disease, including excess plaque, odor, or swollen, red, or pale gums.
- Nose: The doctor will look for discharge or crusting and listen for normal air flow through the nostrils.
- Ears: Redness, swelling, odor, and excessive wax can all be signs of irritation in the ears.
- Skin: A number of traits on or in the skin will give the doctor health information, including a full hair coat or hair loss, signs of scales or sores, redness, discoloration, or the presence of skin tumors.
- Heart/Lungs: The doctor listens for crackles in the lungs, the presence of a heart murmur, and to assure the heart rhythm is not too slow or too fast.
- Legs: Legs are checked for lameness. If signs are found, the doctor looks at the overall musculature and checks for clicking or grinding, known as crepitus, in the affected limb.
- Abdomen: The abdomen is palpated (deeply felt by hand) for pain response and signs of lumps, bladder stones, or abnormal ingestion of food in the intestines.
While this list may appear long to the average person, a veterinarian can perform all of these assessments very quickly, if there are no abnormalities found. When such an irregularity is found, the doctor must then look at it more thoroughly.
As you can see, with so much to look over, a yearly exam is a necessary assessment for your pet. This also gives us the opportunity to update their vaccinations. By keeping up to date, we can keep your pet healthy and address many health issues before they become large problems.
If you are unsure when your pet’s next exam is due, please email us or give us a call.