Importance of wellness exams in your Vail Valley Pet
In my many years of veterinary practice I have seen many trends in veterinary care.
Most recently, I have seen a trend towards “vaccine clinics” and “Quick stop shopping” for cheap veterinary care. I feel as a profession, we are forgetting what is the most important part of our patient’s overall health-The annual wellness exam.
By administering vaccines only, we are doing our patients and customers a disservice as we are leading our customers to believe that a “vaccine” is assuring the pet is “healthy,” which is so untrue.
The most important component of assuring a pet has a good healthy start to their life and has the longest, pain-free, healthy life as the years progress, your pet should have an annual examination. The annual examination, is so important in many ways.
Firstly, A full history of the pet’s background is obtained.
During the history, your veterinarian is able to learn about what habits in your pet’s life may or may not have changed which can indicate early disease. Your veterinarian can also assess your pet’s diet, as well as travel plans so that your pet may be protected against diseases prevalent in other parts of the country. Examples where history can be so important are in older pets where perhaps appetite is decreased, or water consumption has increased, or perhaps new “lumps” have appeared that could be cancerous. All of these are discussed in detail and are so important as your veterinarian tries to assure your pet is receiving the best medical care necessary for their age of life.
During the physical examination, so many things are assessed.
Temperature- increases or decreases can indicate infection, neoplasia (cancer), inflammation, hypothermia, etc.
Pulse- A pulse will allow us to assess cardiac arrhymias, anemia potential, dehydration, etc.
Respiration: Respirations reflect the breathing pattern in a pet which can be altered due to infections, infiltrative lung disease, asthma and even heart disease.
You veterinarian will perform a very complete examination from “ head to toe.”
Eyes are examined for evidence of early cataracts, tumors, eyelid masses, as well as neurological diseases in addition to many immune disorders that can alter your pet’s vision. “The eye is is the window to the body” is a common phrase indicating the eyes can tell us a lot about the health of your pet.
Ears are examined for evidence of inflammation, infection, “foreign bodies” as well as parasites which can effect your pet’s hearing.
Mouth: The mouth is examined for evidence of oral disease, fractured teeth, oral cancers, abscessed teeth, and early evidence of “cavities” for example in cats, they develop “resorbptive” lesions indicating decay.
Lymph nodes: The lymph nodes harbor the immune componets for your pet’s blood. Enlarged lymph nodes can indicate systemic disease and even cancer such as lymphoma.
Heart and lungs: The heart and lungs are examined to determine pulse, and respiration as well as heart diseases including heart murmurs, heart failure, arrhythmias etc.
The abdomen is palpated to feel all the organs to check for normalcy. Enlarged organs, tumors, abdominal foreign bodies, etc can all be detected with abdominal palpation.
Muscles and Joints: Your pet’s joints can all be felt for arthritis, congenital abnormalities, sports injuries, or other orthopedic conditions which could be causing your pet pain.
Skin: your pet’s haircoat can reflect the overall health of your pet. Underlying diseases can be reflected in your pet’s coat, for example lack of grooming can indicate disease.
The skin is also checked for lumps which can potentially be cancerous.
A Fecal sample may be obtained during the exam to check your pet for parasites as well. In addition a complete laboratory analysis of your pet’s bloodwork may be obtained to give your veterinarian a more complete look at your pet’s inner health.
In conclusion, to provide your pet the healthiest life possible, schedule that annual wellness exam today!