Wellness Examinations – What Do We Examine?

2017-01-05

Welcome to 2017! With a new year comes new opportunities to ‘Paws to Protect’ your pets. Our ‘Paws to Protect‘ topic for January is Wellness Exams. At Lawndale Veterinary Hospital, we fully believe that wellness examinations and routine preventive care can go a long way in keeping your pet healthy and protected. We also know that you as the pet owner play a critical role in keeping things up to date. That’s why this month, we want to show our appreciation for your efforts and faithfulness by offering 10% off wellness examinations all month long!

Wellness examinations provide an opportunity for you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about your pet with our team. Wellness examinations are the perfect time to update necessary vaccines, perform wellness labwork, confirm your pet is receiving appropriate preventive care (like heartwormintestinal parasite, flea and tick protection), discuss nutritional needs, and learn more about home dental care options. During a wellness examination, our doctors will examine your pets thoroughly. Using a systematic approach, your pet is evaluated from nose to tail. Have you ever thought about all the things our veterinarians are checking when performing a physical exam? It’s a lot! Take a look:

  • Weight / Body Condition: Your pet is weighed each time he or she comes to our clinic. We compare the weight to previous visits to see if things have changed, and we also determine if your pet is overweight or underweight.
  • Eyes: Externally, the eyes are evaluated for things such as discomfort, discharge, redness, inflammation, or even changes in vision. An ophthalmoscope can be used to visualize the internal ocular structures to make sure things like the lens, iris, retina, optic nerve, and internal chambers appear normal. The eyes can be a window into the animal’s body, and sometimes we will only find hints of systemic illness by looking at the internal ocular structures.
  • Ears: Hearing can be subjectively evaluated, and the ears are examined both externally and internally. The ear canal as well as the ear drum are visualized and assessed. The ears can be a common place for us to find evidence of infection.
  • Nose: The nose is assessed for abnormalities including conformational or pigmentary changes, the presence of discharge or inflammation, and abnormal air flow.
  • Oral cavity: The condition of the teeth and gums will indicate whether dental disease is present. Additionally, the oral mucosa, throat and tongue are evaluated for abnormalities including inflammation, infection, ulceration or masses.
  • Mucous Membranes: Mucous membranes should be pink and moist. If a color change is present or the mucosa is dry, the animal could have problems with hydration status or oxygen carrying capacity.
  • Heart: Using a stethoscope, we listen to the heart. We assess the heartbeat, heart rate, heart rhythm, and whether a murmur is present. We also check the animal’s pulse quality.
  • Lungs: The respiratory system is evaluated by listening to the lungs with a stethoscope, watching the animal breathe, and counting the respiratory rate. If an animal has an abnormal respiratory effort or abnormal lung sounds, it can indicate the presence of respiratory disease.
  • Abdomen: When our doctors palpate (feel) the abdominal cavity, a number of things are being assessed including size, shape and placement of internal structures, the presence of discomfort with abdominal palpation, or whether abnormalities might be present (e.g. fluid, masses, foreign materials, etc.).
  • Lymph nodes: Lymph node size and shape are checked. Enlarged lymph nodes can be an indicator of problems such as infection, inflammation or cancer.
  • Skin: The patient’s hair coat quality and skin integrity are assessed. The skin is a common place for allergies to manifest, and some endocrine conditions can cause skin changes. Additionally, skin folds can be problematic for certain breeds as well as some overweight patients. Evidence of external parasites can also be found on the skin (e.g., fleas, flea feces, ticks, mites, lice).
  • Musculoskeletal System: The pet is assessed for evidence of changes in muscling as well as hints of joint pain or orthopedic disease. Arthritis is a common problem in aging animals that can manifest as joint discomfort during a physical exam.
  • Neurological: The patient’s mentation and overall neurological function are evaluated. If any neurological concerns are present, additional reflex testing and a full neurological exam will be performed.
  • Urogenital: The urogenital system is evaluated for structural abnormalities and the presence of abnormal discharge or inflammation.

After performing the physical examination, our doctors will discuss the findings with you. If abnormalities are noted, then recommendations can be made regarding further investigation. The wellness examination is so important because it can help us identify problems earlier.

Is it time for your pet’s annual check-up? Give us a call today!

Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS

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