A physical exam is an important tool to help evaluate your pet’s overall health and to help detect any problems before they turn into a serious illness. There can be changes in your pet that may be too subtle for you to notice, but we may be able to detect them during a physical exam. With the valuable information gathered from you and the physical exam, we hope to help you maintain the wellness of your pet.
During a physical exam, the doctor will check the following areas of your pet:
- Weight — Any increase or decrease in your pet’s weight could be indicators of certain disease states. Overweight pets also need to be monitored due to the increased stress on the cardiovascular and skeletal system.
- Examine the mouth for a sign of dental disease-Periodontal disease is the most common ailment affecting both dogs and cats. They will also check for any loose, broken or chipped teeth and any other tooth abnormalities.
- Examine the eyes for cataracts, glaucoma or inflammation.
- Examine the ears for infection or inflammation.
- Palpate the lymph nodes for swelling or signs of masses.
- Listen to the chest — The doctor will listen to the heart for any murmurs or irregular heartbeats. The lungs will also be checked for any abnormal lung sounds.
- Palpate the abdomen — The doctor will feel your pet’s abdomen to check for any masses or pain as well as checking the shape and size of the internal organs.
- Hair coat and skin — All animals should have a shiny hair coat free of dander and excess oil. Any hair-loss or a dull hair coat could be indicative of a problem.
- Orthopedic exam — The shoulders, elbow, hips, knees and spine will be checked for any pain during movement.
- A rectal exam — This will be performed on all intact male dogs to check the prostate. The rectal area will also be checked on all pets for any obvious signs of tumors.
- Parasite exam — The parasite exam is a multi step process. The doctor will look at the hair coat and skin for signs of external parasites like fleas or ticks. You will be asked to bring in or return a stool sample to check for intestinal parasites. A heartworm/blood parasite test will be performed yearly on all canine patients by testing a few drops of blood collected.
- Blood work — On younger pets a yearly baseline sample may be obtained to check the function of the internal organs. On our senior pets, blood screenings may be done more often.
AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) currently recommends a physical exam with blood work annually on young, healthy pets. Because our pets age more rapidly than humans (on average, five to seven years for every human year), their senior years come more quickly. We recommend that our senior pets (age 6 and over) have a physical exam and blood work every six months. If you have a pet that requires special care or with an illness, our veterinarians will recommend a physical exam schedule based on each individual pet.