Part of keeping your pet healthy and happy is taking them in for routine exams at the veterinarian.
Much like humans need annual wellness check-ups with their doctors, pets also need this same type of care. Annual wellness exams may be even more important for pets because they can not talk to tell you what is wrong, so they could suffer from an illness or injury without you even noticing.
During your pet’s annual wellness examination, you can expect there to be three main parts: Health history, physical exam, and veterinarian recommendations.
This is the portion where the veterinarian reviews your pet’s file to check if there are any conditions you were keeping an eye on from the last exam and to see how much they weighed last year. If your pet has never been seen by the veterinarian before, they will ask you basic questions about your pet’s overall health and well-being, including any chronic conditions or injuries.
You may also be asked about your pet’s diet, including what, how much, and how often they are fed; how often they receive exercise; whether they seem to be sleeping more or less than usual; and if there have been any changes to their toileting habits.
These questions give the veterinarian an idea of what to look for during the physical exam.
The physical exam likely will make up the bulk of your pet’s wellness exam appointment.
Some of the things you can expect your vet to check include:
- Temperature: This will be taken rectally (Your pet may not like it, but it is not painful) and can be one of the first signs that your pet may be ill.
- Weight: If your pet is overweight, you may be given recommendations for a diet and exercise regimen, as overweight animals are more prone to illness and injuries. A large difference in your pet’s weight from last year, either up or down, can also indicate an underlying condition.
- Mouth: Your pet’s teeth and gums are checked for signs of plaque buildup or other dental diseases.
- Eyes: The veterinarian looks at your pet’s eyes for signs of corneal changes, cataracts, or glaucoma, as well as overall retinal health.
- Ears: Some infections can begin deep in your pet’s ear canal, and it may be a while before you notice. Your veterinarian checks this area to see if there are signs of infection that may need to be treated.
- Skin and fur: Your pet’s overall coat and skin condition are assessed, as well as their skin, checked for growths.
- Heart: While your pet may be a little stressed and have an elevated heart rate, their pulse still is checked for any signs of abnormal rhythm or murmur.
- Lungs: Abnormal breathing patterns could mean a disease that needs fast treatment.
- Muscles and bones: Finally, your veterinarian will palpate your pet’s limbs, abdomen, neck, and back to check for any abnormalities.
Following the physical exam, your veterinarian may have recommendations for the continued care of your pet.
If your pet is in overall good health, these recommendations will be minimal, and may simply include telling you to just keep doing what you are doing.
If your veterinarian found anything concerning, further testing may be ordered. This can include urinary, fecal, or blood tests, as well as, imaging such as X-rays. Your veterinarian may want to do these tests right away, at your appointment, or you may be asked to make a separate appointment.
Your veterinarian also may recommend lifestyle changes to help your pet, including changes to food type, feeding routine, dental care, increased exercise, or behavioral recommendations.
Falls Road Veterinary Hospital
10229 Falls Road Potomac, MD 20854
Mon-Thur: 8:00am - 8:00pm
Fri : 8:00am - 6:00pm
Sat: 8:00am - 1:00pm