Preventive Health Exams are Key to Your Pet's Good Health

 

Protect your pet's health and quality of life by taking it to your veterinarian for a health exam at least once per year. Twice a year is recommended, especially for senior pets.

A health exam will help determine the general well-being of your pet and can identify potential problems. Early detection of diseases can improve your pet's chances of successful treatment, and save you money over the long run, too.

Pets Age Faster Than Humans

Pets age at a faster rate than humans; they may experience age-related health changes before you realize it. Taking your pet to the veterinarian once a year is equivalent to you seeing a doctor or dentist about only once every seven years! Use this calculator to determine your pet's age in human years.

Keep your pets healthy with yearly preventive health exams. A happy, healthy pet starts with a plan:

  1. An annual health exam (twice a year recommended, especially for senior pets)
  2. Disease prevention, including parasite prevention and vaccinations
  3. Pet health insurance
 
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What to Expect at Your Pet's Preventive Health Exam

History

Be prepared to discuss your pet's health history. This is the time to mention any unusual behavior, changes in appetite, or other changes you may have observed. Your veterinarian will check the pet's temperature, pulse, respiration rate, and weight.

 

Nose, Ears, & Eyes

Your veterinarian will check your pet's nose for abnormal discharges, as well as changes in color, texture, moisture, or shape. Pets who shake their heads or scratch their ears may have an ear infection. Your veterinarian will perform a visual check of your pet's ear canals for signs of inflammation. Your pet's eyes will be examined for inflammation, cataracts, and overall condition.

Teeth & Mouth

Your veterinarian will check your pet's gums, teeth, tongue, and palate for abnormalities. Dental tartar can lead to infection, gingivitis, and periodontal disease. A teeth cleaning and polishing may be recommended.

Heart & Lungs

Your veterinarian will listen to your pet's heart and lungs. Early heart disease and respiratory problems can be detected during this examination.

Reproductive System

Your pet's reproductive system will be examined. If your pet is not already spayed or neutered, your veterinarian may discuss its many health benefits beyond birth control.

Skin & Coat

The skin and coat are indicators of your pet's health. Your veterinarian will check the condition of the skin and hair, and will also check for fleas, ticks, tumors, and wounds.

Overall Body

Your veterinarian will feel the pet's abdomen to assess the condition of internal organs and will check the condition of the legs, feet, joints, muscles, and lymph nodes. Blood work and urinalysis may be warranted, especially for senior pets. Tests and/or treatment for heartworm or intestinal worms may be recommended or performed.

This head-to-toe examination will help keep your pet happy and healthy!

Published: October 5, 2009;    Updated: February 15, 2013

Filed Under: Animal Care Health Basics, Companion Animals, Cats, Dogs

Author: Oregon Veterinary Medical Association

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