With so much going on in our lives, it is sometimes hard to keep track of our own appointments, let alone our pets’. While your furry family member may look and act normal, there can be underlying health issues that cannot be diagnosed with just the naked eye. For pets 1-7 years of age, we recommend bringing them in for annual exams; for pets over 8 years of age, we recommend bi-annual exams. Since our pets age at a faster rate than people, it is important for your veterinarian to keep an accurate record of their health!
During the annual exam, your veterinarian will go over a detailed history – including questions about your pet’s diet, exercise, behavior, lifestyle and overall health. Your veterinarian will also perform a thorough physical exam on your furry family member. The physical exam includes:
- Listening to their heart and lungs – checking for any abnormalities such as a heart murmur
- Examining their eyes – looking for any discharge, redness, swelling or cloudiness
- Examining ears – making sure there is no debris, hair loss or discharge
- Examining their mouth and teeth – inspecting the teeth for tartar build-up, periodontal disease, broken or missing teeth and ulcers
- Examining their skin and coat – verifying the coat is shiny and smooth, and the skin is not dry or flakey
- Assessing their body condition – determining if your pet is at an appropriate weight, watching them walk and stand, and checking their attitude (i.e. are they bright and alert)
If your pet is due for any vaccinations, the doctor will discuss this with you and make their recommendations on what should be done. Based on your pet’s physical exam, the doctor may recommend other diagnostics such as lab work (blood or urine samples) or a dental procedure. The doctor will also discuss preventive wellness measures you can take at home for your pet such as heartworm and flea/tick medication, as well as any dietary or nutritional changes.
Here at Blum, we strive to practice preventive medicine, meaning we recommend bringing your furry family member in at least once a year for a doctor to evaluate their overall health and risks of disease or other health-related issues. This way your doctor will be able to notice any changes and hopefully diagnose any problems or diseases before they worsen.
For more information, watch this video of Dr. Georgesen explaining why annual exams are important and what they entail!
Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.