Your pet seems fit as a fiddle. Their appetite is great, energy level is high, and they are the picture of health. You booked their wellness visit last month when you got the reminder email, but you are busy on the scheduled day. Does such a healthy pet really need a check-up? The team at Emerald Animal Hospital wants to explain what our veterinarians can ascertain when they perform a wellness exam on your pet, and how your pet benefits.

What is included in a pet wellness exam?

Our Emerald Animal Hospital veterinarians will examine your pet thoroughly from head to tail. We will leave no hair—literally—unturned, to ensure we have physically evaluated your pet’s every body part.

  • Brain From the time your pet walks in the door, we begin assessing them. The way they walk and hold their head and body tells us about their brain function.
  • Eyes — We examine your pet’s eyes, including the cornea, lens, optic disc, and retina, looking for issues such as conjunctivitis, glaucoma, and cataracts.
  • Ears — We assess the outer and inner structures for infection, polyps, or parasites.
  • Mouth — We examine your pet’s mouth to find tumors, and loose teeth that may need extraction.
  • Back We palpate all the way down your pet’s back to test for pain.
  • Skin — We inspect their skin for infection, inflammation, and parasites.
  • Heart — We listen to their heart to assess heart rate and determine if a murmur or arrhythmia is present.
  • Lungs — We listen to all lung fields to check for congestion, wheezing, or crackles, which could indicate infection, asthma, or heart disease.
  • Abdomen — We  gently palpate the abdomen, checking to ensure the organs are the correct size and to determine if any masses are present.
  • Limbs — We manipulate all four limbs testing for pain, and watch your pet walk, looking for lameness.
  • Temperature — We take your pet’s temperature. The normal temperature for dogs and cats ranges from 100 to 102.5 degrees. An elevation indicates possible infection or hyperthermia. 
  • Weight We weigh your pet at every visit. A significant change could indicate an issue that requires further work-up.

The screening tests performed on your pet

A thorough physical exam gives us much information, but an exam cannot reveal some disease processes, so we will perform some non-invasive tests for more information regarding your pet’s health.

  • Complete blood count (CBC) — The CBC helps us assess white and red blood cell and platelet counts. Irregularities can indicate conditions such as anemia, infection, or certain cancers, such as leukemia.
  • Chemistry panel — This test provides information about your pet’s electrolyte levels, and many major body organs. 
  • Urinalysis — We evaluate your pet’s urine’s concentration, content, and appearance, which helps us know if they are suffering from issues including kidney disease, urinary tract infection, and diabetes.
  • Fecal check — We microscopically inspect your pet’s feces for parasites.
  • Heartworm and tick-borne infection test — We recommend testing your pet for heartworms on an annual basis, whether or not they are on a regular heartworm preventive. This test can also tell us if your pet is infected with a tick-borne illness, such as Lyme disease.

My pet seems too healthy to need a vet visit

Our pets have retained some wild instincts. They feel vulnerable when they are sick, and will go to great lengths to hide an illness. Some pets, especially cats, are exceptionally good at remaining stoic when affected by a severe disease, but our veterinarians are well-trained to see the slightest abnormality. However, some diseases cannot be detected by physical exam alone, and further screening tests are a valuable tool for us to ensure your pet is healthy.

The wellness check is relatively low stress, making this visit the perfect opportunity to assure your pet our veterinary clinic is a safe, happy place. You can also see how our veterinarians interact with your pet. If you have any questions or concerns, this is a great time to address those issues. We will use this visit to tell you about preventive measures, such as vaccinations, heartworm preventives, and parasite control, that we recommend for your pet. If they suffer from any ongoing issues, such as allergies or anxiety problems, this is the ideal moment to discuss how your pet is progressing.

Carving out time during our busy lives to take our pets to the vet can be hard, especially when our pets seem healthy. Hopefully, you now appreciate how crucial this is for your pet’s overall health. Our team at Emerald Animal Hospital looks forward to scheduling your pet’s next wellness visit.