Why Annual Exams?

They’re The Best Way to Catch Problems Early

The single most important thing you can provide for your pet from a medical standpoint is a complete physical examination once a year. Because your pet cannot tell you when something is wrong, the exam gives the doctor an opportunity to look for subtle signs of disease or other issues that are not apparent in your pet’s everday life. By catching issues early, we can try to prevent more major problems down the road.

They’re the Best Way to Keep Your Pet Healthy

In addition to the physical exam, we recommend certain other procedures be done annually in conjunction with the exam. These include vaccinations, heartworm testing in dogs, and checking for intestinal parasites.

The Exam: Head to Tail

A lot happens during the exam! You might think the doctor is just holding and petting your animal, but he or she is thoroughly evaluating your pet, assessing all the major systems and organs inside, as well as watching their breathing, energy level, gait, and any other issues.

Be sure to let the doctor know if anything has seemed “off” or unusual for your pet.

When it’s time to work up close with your pet, the doctor will do so at your pet’s own level and, as much as possible, on your pet’s own terms. The doctor may sit on the floor next to your dog or hold your cat in his lap. For most pets, the exam can take place wherever you and your pet prefer.

The exam will include:

  • looking for signs of upper respiratory disease or congestion.
  • assessing the eyes and ears for evidence of infection or disease.
  • evaluating the health of the teeth and gums.
  • looking and feeling for any abnormal masses or growths on or under the skin.
  • feeling the internal organs in search of any abnormalities.
  • assessing the nails to make sure they appear healthy.
  • listening to the heart for evidence of abnormal rhythm or other heart diseases.
  • listening to the lungs for evidence of concerns like pneumonia or a more chronic condition like asthma.
  • weighing your cat or small dog.
  • assessing the bones and joints, with particular attention in older animals for signs of arthritis.

The physical exam may highlight some areas in need of further evaluation. The doctor can initiate these tests at the appointment, including taking blood and urine samples, monitoring blood pressure, or other diagnostics as needed.