What to expect at an annual health examination

    When you bring your pet for their annual health maintenance examination it is often tempting to view updating vaccines as the main reason for the visit. Although updating your pet's immunity is important, it is the accelerated aging of pets that makes it so important to screen regularly for new health issues with a yearly physical examination. A general rule of thumb is that one year of time in your pet's life is equivalent to 6-7 years of a human's life. When you realize this, it is easily understood that a yearly physical examination for a pet is the equivalent of a human going to the doctor for a physical examination every 7 years. Obviously alot can change over that year's time. For example, in the year from your pet's puppy/kitten visit until the next year's exam, your puppy/kitten will have gone through the stages (equivalent to humans) from baby, through adolescence to early adulthood! Regular checkups are important even if your pet appears healthy because animals tend to hide signs of illness until the disease is quite advanced. Before our pets were domesticated, they learned to hide signs of their ailments to prevent being seen as weak or debilitated, which would make them a target for predators looking for their next meal. A veterinarian through a through physical examination (and sometimes diagnostic testing) is specially trained to pick up on subtle signs of illness that often goes unrecognized by those who care for a pet on a daily basis. For this reason, the annual health examination for pets that are 1-7 years of age centers around the physical examination, and as appropriate the following preventative care tests and treatments:
A complete physical examination will be performed with attention to:
We will weigh and record your pet's weight and vital signs so we can compare to it in the future.
Ears:  examined for signs of infection such as pain, odor or discharge.
Eyes:  examined with attention paid to the eyelids, conjunctiva, cornea and internal structures.
Mouth:  examined including the teeth, gums and oral cavity.  Periodontal disease assessment is performed.
Lymph nodes/Immune system: lymph nodes will be palpated for enlargement or pain.
Skin: examined for lumps, rashes, parasites (fleas and ticks), and signs of infection, bruising or change in hydration
Cardiovascular: the heart is examined for murmurs or arrythmias, pulses and mucous membranes evaluated
Respiratory: lungs will be asculted for abnormal sounds or congestion
Abdomen: will be palpated to feel for masses or organ (e.g. liver, spleen, intestines) enlargements or thickening
Musculoskeletal:  spine, muscles and joints examined for pain, swelling or decreased mobility
Submit a stool sample for analysis for intestinal parasites.
Perform heartworm and tickborne disease (dogs) or Leukemia/FIV (cats) blood testing as needed.
Administer vaccinations for Distemper, Rabies, Lyme (dogs), Leukemia (cats) and Bordatella (dogs) as needed.
Perform Bartonella testing for cats that have never been screened.
Discuss dental care (cleaning or preventative care, as appropriate).
Dispense heartworm medication for ongoing prevention.
Dispense flea and tick prevention for ongoing prevention.
*** depending on prior vaccine history a booster visit may be needed 3-4 weeks later to ensure complete immunity