Many of us attend regular appointments with our doctors so that our health and wellness can be monitored by a professional. However, did you know it’s just as important for your pet to attend routine wellness exams too? Just like us, our animals can develop health problems and become sick, but since they aren’t able to verbally communicate with us to tell us what’s wrong, they rely on us picking up clues from their behavior to find out that they need medical attention. Fortunately, routine wellness exams are also designed to pick up any developing health problems so that they can be addressed quickly, before your pet suffers unnecessarily.
Here’s what you need to know about what to expect during a routine wellness exam:
This is an informal conversation and usually takes place at the beginning of your pet’s appointment. We will ask you how you feel your pet’s health is and if you have any concerns. You may be asked about their diet, exercise pattern, and general behavior. This helps us create a bigger picture about your pet so we can try to identify if there is anything specific to look out for and give you any appropriate advice which may enhance the way that you care for your pet.
A nose to tail examination of your pet lets us assess their physical, visible wellbeing. We’ll be looking to see how alert your pet is and how they respond to certain actions, which will give our vet team an idea of their cognitive function. Other things that the physical examination may include are:
Vital signs, e.g., heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature
Assessment of the eyes, ears, nose, and face
Assessment of their coat and skin
Palpation of the abdomen to check for the position of the vital organs
Evaluation of the limbs
A check for lumps, bumps, or other abnormalities
Rectal exam (if needed)
If your vet notices anything that they are concerned about, further diagnostic testing may be recommended, such as an x-ray and/or bloodwork.
There are a variety of tests that can and may form part of a pet wellness exam. These reveal vital information about your pet’s health and wellbeing that might not be obtainable through a physical exam alone. Some of the tests that your pet may be required to undergo could include:
Blood tests. Blood tests can be used to provide a wealth of information about the health of your animal. For example, red and white blood cell counts can determine if your pet is anemic or suffering from an infection. Meanwhile, blood chemistry testing can tell your vet how well your pet’s organs are working and can be used to detect conditions like diabetes or liver failure.
Heartworm testing. Heartworms are the one parasite that can only be detected using a blood test and since heartworms can be fatal if left untreated, regular testing is recommended.
Urinalysis. This test of your pet’s urine is used to assess the condition of their renal system including how well their kidneys are functioning.
Fecal testing. A sample of your pet’s stool may be requested, and this can be used to rule out the presence of certain internal parasites, such as hookworms and roundworms.
In some cases, routine wellness exams can be an opportunity to administer any vaccinations which may be due, and to speak to you about at-home preventatives to protect your pet against parasites like worms, ticks, fleas, and mites. If you need any advice about which preventatives may be best for your pet, this is an ideal time to ask.
To learn more about what to expect at a routine pet wellness exam, or to schedule an appointment for your pet, please speak to our friendly veterinary team at Animal Hospital of Padre Island by calling 361-949-8200 today!