Pet wellness exams are a lot like regular check-ups with your own doctor. There may – and hopefully will not – be anything wrong. However, by closely monitoring your pet’s health it is possible for your veterinarian to spot any developing problems early and make recommendations which may be able to reverse the issue before your pet starts to suffer any ill effects. For example, if your pet is gaining weight – something which is the leading cause of many health problems in animals – then your vet will be able to suggest dietary and exercise changes that will help keep his weight under control, thus potentially preventing conditions such as arthritis and diabetes from developing.
Because they are so valuable in the early detection of disease and can help your pet to live a longer, happier life, wellness exams are considered a critical part of any pet’s preventative care plan.
What is included in a pet wellness exam?
A pet wellness exam usually involves a variety of different elements. These include the following:
This nose to tail check of your pet’s body looks for any obvious anomalies such as lumps, bumps, unhealed wounds, poor coat condition, problems with the joints, skin issues and more. Your vet will also palpate your pet’s lymph nodes to check that they aren’t enlarged, and his abdomen to check that his organs all feel normal-sized and in the right locations.
Your pet’s urine can tell your vet important information about the health of his kidneys and urinary system. However, it can also reveal problems in other organ systems and is an essential test for the diagnosis of metabolic disease such as diabetes, which is just as likely to affect animals as humans.
Fecal testing is another routine veterinary test that is used to check for the presence of internal parasites – better known as worms. This is because many types of internal parasites, such as hookworms and tapeworms, pass their eggs out of your pet’s body via his intestine, where they appear, microscopic in size, in his stool sample. In some cases, whole worms will pass out.
Blood tests are one of the best ways to your veterinarian to ascertain what is happening with your pet’s health on the inside of his body. This is important since many animals’ mask symptoms of illness for as long as possible, enabling diseases and health problems to progress significantly before we become aware and can treat them. There are several types of blood tests carried out. One is a complete blood count (CBC) which looks at the number of red and white blood cells, and the number of platelets in your pet’s blood. These tell your vet information about issues such as anemia, clotting ability and whether your pet is already fighting some sort of illness. Another blood test is called a blood chemistry profile, and this looks at the different chemicals present in your pet’s blood to determine how well his body systems are working.
If you have an older pet, you can expect him to be given a thyroid test as part of his wellness exam. This is a blood test that enables your veterinarian to assess the function of his thyroid gland – something that often deteriorates with age.
Your pet’s dental health is as important as your own. Poor dental health in animals has been linked to the development of many issues, ranging from unnecessary pain and difficulty eating to persistent bad breath, tooth loss and even health problems that have developed as a result of an infection caused by periodontal disease. Your pet’s wellness check will normally include a comprehensive check of his mouth and teeth, plus advice on how to take care of them.
How often should my pet have a wellness exam?
Every pet is different, and this means that the frequency of your pet’s wellness exams will be tailored to your pet’s individual requirements. For example, when your pet is very young and still growing and developing quickly, he is likely to be seen every 3-6 months. His initial series of vaccinations provide an ideal time for your veterinarian to do a quick physical check of him with some regularity. Similarly, older pets that are more likely to experience deteriorating health may also be seen on a fairly regular basis, particularly if they are also taking medication.
The average adult pet is usually recommended to have a wellness exam every 6-12 months. Your veterinarian will be happy to make a recommendation for the schedule of wellness exams that best suits your pet.
If you would like more information about pet wellness exams, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with our experienced veterinary team.