What is my veterinarian looking for during an exam?
The answer to this question depends on your pet's age and current health status. During early kitten and puppy development wellness exams may be recommended on a monthly basis, while for the average adult pet annual visits are the norm. For middle age and geriatric pets, semi-annual examinations are recommended.
It is a popular misconception that one calendar year equates to seven years in a pet's life.
Pets age faster than people. In fact, in one calendar year a dog may age the equivalent of four to fifteen years in a human's life. The reason for the dramatic difference is that puppies reach maturity very quickly, and are essentially adolescents or young adults by a year of age; thus they are considered to be the equivalent of a 15 year old by their first birthday. During the second year, the rate of ageing slows down a little so that the average dog is considered to be the equivalent of a 24-25 year old by their 2nd birthday.
After that, the rate of aging is estimated to be 4-5 dog years per calendar year, depending on the size and the breed. Large breed dogs age relatively more quickly than small breed dogs. Your veterinarian is your pet care expert and can recommend how often your dog should have a wellness examination based on breed, health status and lifestyle.
An exam generally involves observing the general appearance of your pet, listening to the chest with a stethoscope (ascultation), and "palpation" - feeling specific areas of the body.
*How your pets walks and stands
*Whether your pet is bright and alert
*General body condition including appropriate body weight
*The haircoat - looking for excessive dryness, oiliness, dandruff, shedding, abnormal hair loss
*The skin - looking for oiliness, dryness, dandruff, lumps or bumps, areas of abnormal thickening
*The eyes - looking for redness, discharge, evidence of excessing tearing, abnormal lumps or bumps on the eyelids, how well the eyelids close, cloudiness, or any other abnormalities
*The nose and face - looking for symmetry, discharges, how well the pet breathes, whether there are any problems related to skin folds or other apparent problems
*Mouth and teeth - looking for tartar build up, periodontal disease, retained baby teeth, broken teeth, excessive salivation, staining around the lips, ulcers in or around the mouth, etc.
*The heart - listening for abnormal heart rate, rhythm, or murmurs
*The lungs - listening for evidence of increased for decreased breath sounds
*The pulse - depending on results of ascultation, your veterinarian may simultaneously listen to the chest and palpate the pulse in the hind legs
*The lymph nodes - feeling regions of the head, nexk and hind legs looking for swelling or pain
*The legs - looking for evidence of lameness, muscle problems, nerve problems, problems withthe paws or toenails
*The abdomen - feeling in the areas of the bladder, kidneys, liver, intestines, spleen and stomach in order to assess whether these organs appear to be normal or abnormal and whether there is any subtle evidence of discomfort