Pet Wellness Exams
What is a Wellness Examination?
A pet Wellness Examination is a regular check up that allows your veterinarian to evaluate your pet's health and
diagnose any problem before it becomes serious. Pets cannot tell you how they're feeling, and changes in their behaviour
and health can be quite gradual, therefore more difficult to pick up when you see your pet every day.
By thoroughly examining your pet and discussing any changes you may have noticed, potential health issues can be recognised sooner and addressed promptly. Regular pet Wellness Exams provide for monitored health, and the opportunity to perform diagnostic lab tests such as blood panels and urinalysis, help in early detection of conditions like kidney and liver disease, diabetes, and heartworm infections.
Early detection allows us to diagnose and begin treatment at the beginning stages of a disease. Sometimes preventive action can be taken immediately; other times, the correct course of action is simply to monitor a particular issue and ensure it does not worsen dramatically.
How often does my pet require a Wellness Exam?
Every year of your pet's life is equivalent to 5-7 human years. Just as dogs and cats age faster
than humans, so their diseases can progress quite rapidly by comparison. This can mean a shorter window of
opportunity for disease detection and treatment.
Like people, too, pets need to visit the veterinarian more often as they get older to treat age-related issues and diseases. It is recommended young healthy animals have a yearly Wellness Exam, while senior pets (over 8 years of age) come in for six-monthly Wellness Examinations.
What happens during a pet's Wellness Exam?
The vet will request a complete history of your pet’s health and listen to any observations you may have made
relating to behaviour and general health.
For example, you may have noticed that your pet has a cough after running around, or that it seems quite stiff
when let out of the kennel in the morning. Such minor observations by you as the pet's owner, can prove to
be vital warnings signs to a veterinarian.
The vet will then perform a complete "nose to tail" physical examination including:
- Body weight
- Head and neck
- Mouth and teeth
- Heart and lung function
- Palpation of the abdomen
- Flexion of joints and assessment for osteoarthritis
- Checking for lumps and growths
- Skin and coat health
- Checking for fleas and mites.
In order to obtain more clinical information, blood, urine and faecal testing may be advised. These types of laboratory tests are strongly recommended for senior pets to check for any underlying diseases that may be developing, such as disease of the liver, kidney and pancreas.
Does a Wellness Exam include vaccinations?
Yes. Any vaccinations due for your pet can be given during the Wellness Exam, avoiding the need for an extra visit. Regular vaccination against canine distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and kennel cough [C5], and feline enteritis and flu[F3], are essential for your pet's health.
Can a Wellness Exam mean better health for my pet?
The effectiveness of a Wellness Exam was demonstrated recently, when Dr. John Brown of Bendigo Animal Hospital
saw a beautiful nine-year-old fox terrier, Jess, for her six-monthly Wellness Exam. When Dr Brown asked
the owner if she had noticed any change in her pet's behaviour since the last exam, the owner commented that
Jess had started to develop a cough, particularly at night. This prompted tests that diagnosed
a heart condition which is now being treated successfully.
Once the Wellness Exam has been completed, a health report card is completed for you. This report provides you with a clear picture of the state of your pet's health, as well as any suggested proactive measures to help ensure your pet's on going health. Examples of such measures include a cardiac ultrasound to determine the significance of a heart murmur, or a dental hygiene treatment.
Wellness Exams are an excellent opportunity for you to discuss any concerns you may have with your pet, such as weight control. Do not underestimate the importance of taking your pet for a regular Wellness Exam. Regular check-ups will help you and your pet have a healthier and happier life together.