What is a Wellness Exam?
A regular wellness exam is an important piece of your pet’s preventative health care in the same way that routine physicals are important for maintaining your own health.
We believe that the vast majority of pet owners pay close attention to their companion’s health, but unfortunately the gradual onset of health problems can very easily go unnoticed. Once symptoms are significant enough for you to notice, the condition may be more difficult and costly to diagnose and treat. Additionally, for our older pets there are a number of age-related conditions that if diagnosed early can be reversed or controlled for extended periods of time.
Without a routine wellness exam preventable and curable conditions very likely will go unnoticed. For this reason we recommend yearly exams, though more frequent exams may be best for your pet depending on age, condition, type and breed.
The most important piece of any exam comes before we have even touched your pet and involves taking a moment to allow you to communicate any concerns or ask any questions you may have. Throughout the exam, your veterinarian will inform you about home health care for your pet and offer important advice and new information on the care of your particular type and breed of animal.
During your pet’s nose-to-tail wellness exam at Deer Park Animal Hospital your veterinarian will:
Listen to your pet’s heart – Early signs of cardiac disease such as heart murmurs and abnormal heart beat patterns known as arrhythmias can be heard through a stethoscope. Discovering these initial indicators of trouble ahead can lead to identifying and treating the underlying condition before it becomes a more serious health threat.
Listen to your pet’s lungs – Health issues such as infections, obstructive diseases and other problems can be detected by listening to your pet's lungs through a stethoscope. The doctor can also assess the overall pulmonary health of your pet.
Examine your pet’s teeth and oral cavity – Examining your pet’s teeth and mouth is an important method to prevent dental disease, one of the most common health concerns in pets. Very young animals, such as kittens and puppies, also need to be checked to ensure they are developing an appropriate bite and that they are losing their baby teeth at the right time. We also take the time to discuss proper home dental care with you.
Evaluate your pet’s vision – All diseases follow relatively predictable processes and if found early can be more easily treated. Ocular conditions, which can also be prevented through regular care and screenings, are no exception.
Look into your pet’s ears – As with dental disease, ear disease is relatively common in many types of pets. Issues such as low-grade allergies, swimming or bathing, reactions to certain foods, mites and other parasites can all cause and contribute to otitis or ear disease. Though you may feel this is an area that can be well-handled at home, the fact is that many ear diseases are difficult to detect and require medical treatment.
Palpate the lymph nodes, abdomen and skin – By feeling the skin, we are looking for unusual lumps or swellings as well as evaluating for skin discolorations, lesions or patterns of hair loss or thinning. These can indicate the presence of more systemic problems, especially metaboli
c diseases, which most commonly occur in middle-aged animals.
Palpate joints and muscles – By examining the joints, legs and other areas of the body, we are able to evaluate for swollen joints, decreased muscle tone and variations in muscle size between the limbs. We also observe your pet's gait for developmental issues. In puppies, we look for early indications of hip or elbow problems. For older pets, we look for signs of arthritis, which can be well-treated if found early.
Lab work – A complete physical includes a heartworm test, parasite screening, and should include a full blood workup. Not only can a full chemistry panel and complete blood count identify the presence of underlying disease processes, but these tests help create a baseline should your pet become ill between routine examinations. Additionally, blood work is necessary if your veterinarian recommends a dental cleaning, removal of skin masses, or any other procedure that requires anesthesia.