Importance of Annual examinations in your Vail Valley Pets

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Importance of Annual examinations in your Vail Valley Pets

As your Vail Valley Veterinarian for over 25 years,  I have seen a very common trend in pet care. I see many pet owners who feel that “vaccination” of their pet signifies that their pet will not succumb to any other forms of disease. So many times recently on after hours emergencies, I’m faced with a sick pet and an owner who says, “But Doc, I just had a vaccine at that vaccine clinic.” Unfortunately, just because we have vaccinated our pets, doesn’t mean they are in perfect health. That brings me to educate my clients as to the most important part of their pet’s overall health is the Annual Examination.

Once a year, your pet should have a full Physical Examination, just as we should for ourselves. As we all know, vaccinations prevent against disease, but they do not prevent against heart disease, or kidney disease for example.

What does a physical exam entail?

A physical exam on  your pet includes:

  1. Temperature: An elevated temperate can mean many things, such as infection, stress, inflammation, or even cancer.
  2. Heart exam: Your DVM will listen to  your pet’s heart to assess rate, rhythm,and ausult for heart murmurs.  Young pets can have congenital disorders which cause significant murmurs and can effect the longevity of your pet. Older pets can develop murmurs which subsequently can lead to heart failure and early death.
  3. Lung exam: Your DVM will assess respiration rate as well as listen to the sounds in the lungs to detect disease processes such as fluid in the lungs secondary to heart disease, or pneumonia as well .
  4. Oral exam:  Evaluation of the oral cavity is performed to evaluate for broken teeth, abscessed teeth, as well as  oral cancers .
  5. Ear Exam: Your pet’s ears are checked for infection, inflammation, or even foreign bodies this time of year such as ear ticks and fox-tails .
  6. Eye exam: “The eye is the window into the body,” is a common saying about ocular exams. The eyes are checked for cataract formation, intact retinas, corneal diseases , immune-mediated disease, etc all which can influence your pet’s vision.
  7. Lymph nodes: The lymph nodes in your pet can become inflamed from systemic inflammation, immune disease, and cancer.

They are palpated to assess size during the annual exam.

  1. Joints:  Your DVM will feel all your pet’s joints to assess, for example in young pets for genetic disorders, or in older pets, arthritis.
  2. Skin: The skin can easily tell underlying disease such as metabolic disease, parasitic disease, allergies. “Lumps” are evaluated to determine if they are cancerous or benign.
  3.  Organ palpation: By feeling your pet’s abdomen, your DVM can detect liver and spleen enlargement, kidney issues, abdominal foreign bodies, etc.

In conclusion, your DVM obtains a tremendous amount of useful information on your pet’s health during that annual exam and thus it is critical to keep up with those exams annual to ensure a long, healthy life for your pet.

We look forward to seeing you!