Regular Checkups for Healthier Pets
Routine wellness exams are key to early detection and keeping your pets as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Even before your pet shows any signs of discomfort at home, a wellness exam can reveal many issues at their initial stages, so your veterinarian can begin treatment sooner.
All pets should be examined at least once a year. For senior pets and pets with chronic conditions, that number may be more frequent, to allow for closer monitoring.
What to Expect
Before performing any of the standard tests, most veterinarians will ask you to complete a checklist to indicate any changes you may have noticed in your pet’s health. Since you spend the most time with your pet, this provides an opportunity for your veterinarian to learn from your observations and help direct the focus of the appointment. Based on the information provided, your veterinarian may want to run additional tests.
During a typical pet wellness exam, your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination, followed by blood tests, urinalysis, and a parasite screening if necessary.
A physical exam is a comprehensive inspection of your pet’s entire body, during which your veterinarian will do the following:
- Feel your pet’s body for lumps and irregularities
- Check vital signs, including temperature, pulse, and respiration
- Record your pet’s weight
- Inspect the nose and mouth for abnormalities
- Listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope
- Look inside the ears with an otoscope
- Examine the eyes with an opthalmoscope
These simple steps will alert your veterinarian to any diseases or conditions with outwardly visible symptoms.
A pet wellness exam will often include blood tests, since not all health issues can be detected or diagnosed through a physical exam alone. The tests will include:
- Blood cell count (CBC), which can diagnose a range of disorders including anemia
- Chemistry panel, a series of tests to assess levels of minerals and other compounds present in the blood
The combination of these tests gives your veterinarian insight into what’s happening inside your pet’s body at the chemical level. Because of the data they provide, blood tests are invaluable in diagnosing specific conditions.
Depending on your responses to the preliminary checklist and the results of the physical exam, your veterinarian may recommend further blood tests to check for specific health issues.
Testing pets’ urine can provide valuable information about their overall health. Your veterinarian will collect the sample and send it to a lab so that the color, concentration, pH, and cells and sediment can be tested. The presence of bacteria or blood, for example, can indicate a problem.
Some of the functions of urinalysis are to:
- Test kidney function
- Diagnose diabetes
- Diagnose a urinary tract infection
- Reveal signs of other health issues
Your veterinarian may ask you to bring a fresh sample of your pet’s stool to the wellness exam appointment or have one collected at the clinic. This is to check for evidence of parasites. Not all parasites can be detected through a stool check, however, so a heartworm blood test may also be recommended.
For every step of your pet’s health, Noah’s Ark Veterinary Hospital offers experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate care. Set up your next (or first) appointment with our team and help your companions live healthier, happier lives.