During a routine wellness examination, our veterinarian will ask you questions about your dog's diet, exercise, thirst, breathing, behavior, habits, elimination patterns (i.e., bowel movements and urination), lifestyle, and general health. Your veterinarian will also perform a physical examination of your dog. A physical examination involves observing the general appearance of your dog, listening to their chest with a stethoscope (auscultation) and feeling specific areas of the body (palpation). Based on your pet's history and physical examination, our veterinarian will then make recommendations for specific preventive medicine treatments such as vaccination, parasite control (including preventive treatments for fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, and heartworm), nutrition, skin and coat care, joint health, weight management, or dental care. In addition, our veterinarian will discuss your dog's diet individual circumstances and decide whether any other life-stage or lifestyle recommendations would be appropriate.
Our veterinarian will observe or inspect:- How your dog walks and stands.- Whether your dog is bright and alert.- Your dog's general body condition - whether your pet has an appropriate body weight and body condition (neither too fat nor too thin).- Your dog’s muscle condition to check for any muscle wasting.- The haircoat - looking for excessive dryness, excessive oiliness, evidence of dandruff, excessive shedding, or abnormal hair loss.- The skin - looking for oiliness, dryness, dandruff, lumps or bumps, areas of abnormal thickening, etc.- The eyes - looking for redness, discharge, evidence of excessive tearing, abnormal lumps or bumps on the eyelids, how well the eyelids close, cloudiness, or any other abnormalities.- The ears - looking for discharges, thickening, hair loss, or any other signs of problems.- The nose and face - looking for symmetry, discharges, how well your dog breathes, whether there are any problems related to skin folds or other apparent problems.- Mouth and teeth - looking for tartar build-up, periodontal disease, retained baby teeth, broken teeth, excessive salivation, staining around the lips, ulcers in or around the mouth, etc. Our veterinarian will auscultate:- The heart - listening for abnormal heart rate, heart rhythm ("skipped beats" or "extra beats"), or heart murmurs.- The lungs - listening for evidence of increased or decreased breath sounds .Our veterinarian will palpate:- The pulse - depending on the results of auscultation, your veterinarian may simultaneously listen to the chest and palpate the pulse in the hind legs.- The lymph nodes in the region of the head, neck, and hind legs - looking for swelling or pain.-The legs - looking for evidence of lameness, muscle problems, nerve problems, problems with the paws or toenails, etc.- The abdomen - feeling in the areas of the bladder, kidneys, liver, intestines, spleen, and stomach in order to assess whether these organs appear to be normal or abnormal, and whether there is any subtle evidence of discomfort. In some cases, you may not even be aware that your veterinarian is conducting some parts of a routine physical examination, particularly if your veterinarian does not detect any abnormalities.
Dogs cannot tell you how they are feeling, and as a result, disease may be present before
you are aware of it. To further complicate matters, as part of their survival instincts, most dogs will hide signs of disease in early stages. This means that a health condition may become highly advanced before your dog shows any obvious or recognizable problems. Some early warning signs may be detected by your veterinarian during the physical examination, or subtle changes that are suggestive of underlying issues may be found, prompting recommendation for further testing as outlined above.
If a disease or condition can be detected before your dog shows signs of illness, steps can often be taken to manage or correct the problem before irreversible damage occurs, therefore improving the prognosis for a successful outcome. In addition, early detection and treatment is often less costly than waiting until a disease or problem becomes advanced enough to affect your dog’s quality of life.
Wellness examinations and testing are particularly important in senior and geriatric dogs, since there is a greater chance that underlying disease may be present. This is the reason why semi-annual examinations are recommended for senior dogs.
When you book the appointment with our veterinarian, you should ask whether you should fast your dog before the visit. You should also ask whether you should bring in fresh urine or fecal samples.
Prepare yourself with some basic information, such as the brand and type of food that your dog eats, whether your family feeds any table scraps, whether you give your dog any supplements, and whether anybody in the family has noticed any problems. This is also the
time that you should take note of any concerns you might have and make inquiries into optimal health maintenance strategies for your furry friend.