At North River Animal Hospital, we offer the Wellness Exam as an annual check-up to gauge the quality of your pet’s health.
Akin to the annual physical exam or “check-up”, a Wellness Exam is recommended for non-sick pets who see their veterinarian on a yearly or bi-yearly basis.
What is Included in the Wellness Exam?
To help improve and extend the quality of your pet’s life, our veterinarians will review the following health indicators during the Wellness Exam:
Reviewing your pet’s history is an important component during the Wellness Exam. Our veterinary support staff will first review and document your pet’s history before meeting with one of our doctors. We will discuss any present concerns related to your pet’s health including any change in physical symptoms or behavior. We will also discuss your pet’s quality of life including appetite, activity level, daily habits, family interactions, parasite control and more. Please note any changes in your pet’s demeanor or physical appearance that may give you cause for concern.
The Physical Exam
During the Physical Exam, our veterinarians will thoroughly explore physical indicators that help determine the overall health of your pet including:
- Condition of Coat – the condition of your dog or cat’s fur can signal health problems when the coat shows signs of dryness, flakiness, or excessive oiliness. Missing patches of fur can also indicate poor or degrading health.
- Eyes – while examining your dog or cat’s eyes, our veterinarians will look for signs of cloudiness, tearing or discharge, healthy eye symmetry and movement and signs of any abnormalities. If your pet has reached his or her geriatric years, a painless eye pressure test may be recommended if any signs of disease or failing eyesight is apparent.
- Ears – conditions that may cause either acute or chronic ear conditions with your dog or cat is quite common. A discharge from one or both ears, an odor, head shaking or scratching are symptoms that can be addressed along with hearing quality.
- Auscultation – listening to the heart and lungs using a stethoscope is a routine procedure during the physical exam to determine if any conditions are present such as an abnormal heart rhythm or other cardiac problem, lung congestion, wheezing or difficulty in breathing.
- Mouth, Teeth and Gums – the mouth of your dog or cat can be a breeding ground for bacteria, fungi, and viruses that can lead to infections possibly caused from injuries due to cuts/lacerations, periodontal disease, gingivitis, dental decay, plaque build-up and other conditions. Signs of abnormal dental and mouth health can include bad breath, abnormal chewing or swallowing patterns, loss of appetite, sores, ulcers or broken teeth.
- Respiratory Tract and Nose – a thorough overview of your dog or cat’s nose, throat and respiratory tract can uncover abnormal conditions highlighted by a runny discharge, dryness, snorting, nasal congestion, or breathing issues.
- Palpitation – during the physical exam, feeling along the areas of the neck, chest, ribcage, stomach, spine, front and hind legs, and tail can help your veterinarian uncover signs of suspicious growths or tumors, cysts, pain indicators caused by injury, lameness, tenderness to the abdomen and internal organs (stomach, spleen, liver, intestines) in order to completely asses your pet’s overall health.
- Weight – dietary management of your pet is important to prevent issues associated with obesity, lameness and other chronic health problems. Weight loss can also be an indicator of health issues associated with your pet’s endocrine system, an injury to the mouth, dental decay, a foreign body obstruction, behavioral issues and more. On every exam, we will update your pet’s weight in our records in order to keep an accurate log of any changes that may occur.
- Mobility – signs of lameness, pain, asymmetry in gait, neurological conditions, and injury are just some conditions that your veterinarian can determine when observing how active, bright and alert, or how engaged your dog behaves in the exam room. This type of observation is very common during a Wellness Exam including watching how your dog walks up and down one of our hallways.
Recommended Bloodwork And Other Laboratory Tests
During the Wellness Exam, a recommendation to obtain a blood sample from your cat or dog is also quite common for preventative care or if your veterinarian feels it is necessary to pursue further diagnostic measures on a pet who is displaying abnormal conditions. Some reasons why bloodwork may be recommended include:
- Yearly Wellness Bloodwork – a comprehensive bloodwork panel which can potentially catch any health issues in the early stages of disease even if no physical symptoms are present.
- Geriatric Profile – highly recommend for aging pets (8+ years of age) in order to review the functionality of internal organs such as the liver or kidneys which may degrade with age.
- Pre-surgical Bloodwork – a blood screening required for pets undergoing an elective procedure after the Wellness Exam such as an ovariohysterectomy (spay) or neuter. Test results can help to determine any health factors or concerns before your dog or cat undergoes anesthesia.
- Comprehensive Canine or Feline Bloodwork – for pets who show signs of health concerns during the Wellness Exam, bloodwork may be recommended by your veterinarian in order to explore issues associated with sickness, an infection, liver or kidney issues, diabetes, and more.
- Parasite Screening – obtaining a stool sample from your dog or cat may be necessary to determine the presence of any parasites such as giardia, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, or tapeworms.
- Heartworm Test – a heartworm test is recommended on a yearly basis for canines because of the prevalence of heartworm disease, especially in our region of the United States. This test is required annually when purchasing heartworm preventative from our hospital in order to ensure the continual health of your dog. Laboratory tests are sent out immediately and results are usually returned to us within 24 hours if not the same day.
- Urinalysis – frequency of urination, signs of blood in the urine, indications of bladder stones discovered during the physical exam, constipation, or a show of abnormal behavior during urination are just some of the reasons your veterinarian may recommend retrieving a urine sample during the Wellness Exam.
- Skin Test – when signs of abnormal skin conditions are apparent during the Wellness Exam, a skin test may be recommended which can be performed during the exam. Test results can uncover issues that can include the presence of parasites (mange), fungal and bacterial infections, skin allergies, and dermatitis.
Upon physical examination or after discussing an abnormal history of your pet’s mobility or behavior, your veterinarian may recommend an x-ray. This in-house test can help determine any specific causes of pain, lameness, mobility issues or internal abnormalities.
At North River Animal Hospital, our x-ray unit has been upgraded with the latest state-of-the-art digital imaging technology. In order to ensure that your dog or cat always receives expert care, we also incorporate the services of a top-level veterinary radiologist if further consultation is necessary after a review of your pet’s images.