The Importance of the Annual Health Exam

By April 23, 2021 No Comments

Once a year we notify you when it is time for your furry family member’s annual health exam. This is a valuable opportunity for us to thoroughly assess the health status of your pet.

The first step is taking a complete medical history. We want to know if there have been any changes with your pet. Has there been any coughing, vomiting, or diarrhea? Have you changed the diet or feeding routine and if so why? Has there been changes in eating, drinking or bathroom habits? Are you noticing any stiffness when your pet gets up in the morning? Any changes in behaviour or unexplained weight loss or gain?

From this conversation we can gain insight into how your pet is doing at home and this can alert us as to what we can do to help. Do we need to run some tests to further investigate a concern? Can we prescribe a supplement to help with mobility? Has your pet’s lifestyle changed to include socializing at a doggy daycare where we should revisit their individual vaccine protocol?

The next step involves weighing your pet and taking their vital signs (temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate) and grading your pet’s body condition. From there, the veterinarian performs a thorough physical examination from the tip of the nose to the tip of tail. This involves auscultation of the heart and lungs, palpation of the abdomen and lymph nodes, examination of the ears, eyes nose, and joints, assessment of the coat and skin, examining the nervous system and the pet’s mobility. An oral health assessment is also done to determine the degree of periodontal disease present.

And that’s a thorough physical exam! Finally, we need to review your pet’s individualized vaccine schedule and whether or not your pet’s lifestyle has changed enough to warrant the inclusion or discontinuation of any particular vaccine. At the annual visit, we will also take a blood sample to screen for heartworm and tick borne diseases as well a panel of tests to check your pet’s overall organ function (something you can’t assess on physical exam). A stool sample is also required so it can be tested at the lab for any intestinal parasites. Finally, we review your pet’s medication requirements in order to ensure they are properly protected from fleas, heartworms, ticks and other parasites for another year.

All of us at Davis Drive Animal Clinic love keeping pets happy and healthy and can’t wait to see you and your pet soon !

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