General Health Examinations
This is the first part of any visit to the vet with your pet; whether it is for a routine vaccination, a preventative health exam, a new health problem or to monitor an ongoing problem.
It involves a thorough physical examination of your pet as well as collecting information from you, the owner. We rely heavily on an owner's observation of his/her pet at home because our patients are unable to explain their symptoms for themselves.
The more information you provide on subjects such as behaviour, appetite, toileting habits and other clinical signs (such as scratching or vomiting), the easier it will be for us to pick up on any problems, so that a diagnosis and treatment plan for any illnesses present can be made.
This is also the time when you are able to discuss any questions you may have relating to nutrition, parasite control, skin care, dental care, preventative medicine, behaviour and training, and specific conditions that your particular animal may be predisposed to. Remember that regular health exams in an otherwise healthy pet are vital parts of a preventative health plan to ensure that your pet remains happy and healthy!
During the consultation, the vet will take your pet's temperature, listen to the heart and lungs, check the eyes, face and ears, feel the abdomen and assess general condition. If any problems are identified, further tests may be required in order to come to a final diagnosis and treatment plan (see links to laboratory tests and diagnostic equipment).
While an annual health exam is essential for young healthy pets, keep in mind that pets age more rapidly than humans and so more frequent health exams are important as they get older. A once yearly check for a 13-year-old Labrador would be the equivalent of an 82-year-old man or woman only going for a check-up at the doctor once every four years! For this reason, we often recommend more frequent (six-monthly) health checks for senior pets i.e. dogs older than seven years and cats older than eight years. If your pet has a long-standing condition (e.g. arthritis, diabetes or heart disease) more frequent checks are also recommended as this allows closer monitoring of his/her condition and allows us to keep treatments and therapies at the most appropriate levels.
While a general health exam is done in the consulting room, extensive advice on nutrition, behaviour and training, skin and dental care, exercise and environmental enrichment is freely available. Please chat to one of the vets or nurses if you'd like to find out more.