Regular wellness screenings help detect emerging health conditions in your pet before they cause a problem. A veterinary professional should evaluate your pets at least once a year, and should assess senior pets every six months, since they are at higher disease risk. Our Juanita Hills Animal Hospital team wants to explain why these visits are so important for your pet’s health and wellbeing.
Why are regular pet physical examinations important?
During your pet’s routine wellness screening, our veterinary professionals perform a comprehensive physical examination, which includes:
- Weight assessment — We weigh your pet and evaluate their body condition score (BCS) to determine their weight status. Pet obesity is an increasing problem, and affected pets are at higher risk for serious health complications, such as certain cancers, arthritis, diabetes, and kidney disease. If we determine that your pet is overweight, we will develop a weight loss strategy to help them safely lose the weight.
- Body temperature — Our veterinary team assesses your pet’s body temperature, because abnormalities can indicate issues such as infection, inflammation, and metabolic disorders.
- Eyes — Pets are excellent at adjusting to gradual vision changes. Our veterinary team assesses your pet’s eyes to look for conditions such as cataracts, retinal degeneration, and dry eye.
- Ears — Ear infections are common in pets and can be caused by ear mites, allergies, and endocrine abnormalities. Our veterinary team evaluates your pet’s ears, looking for conditions such as ear infections, ear polyps, and parasites.
- Mouth — Dental disease is a common problem that affects most pets to some degree by the time they are 3 years of age. Our veterinary team assesses your pet’s mouth for any dental disease, and may recommend a professional veterinary dental cleaning if we find problems.
- Lymph nodes — Enlarged lymph nodes can indicate issues such as infection, inflammation, and cancer, so our veterinary team palpates your pet’s lymph nodes to ensure they are normal.
- Chest — Our veterinary team uses a stethoscope to auscultate your pet’s chest, checking for conditions such as heart murmurs and arrhythmias, which could indicate a serious heart condition. We also auscultate your pet’s lungs to assess for abnormalities.
- Abdomen — We palpate your pet’s abdomen to check for masses and abnormal organs.
- Skin — Skin problems and hair loss can indicate underlying health complications, such as allergies, endocrine conditions, and poor nutrition, and our veterinary team closely evaluates your pet’s skin and coat.
- Musculoskeletal system — Our veterinary team assesses your pet’s limbs, joints, and spine to check for abnormalities such as arthritis, intervertebral disc disease, and soft tissue injuries.
Why is regular pet blood work important?
Not all health issues can be detected on a physical examination, and pets commonly hide signs indicating disease until their condition has advanced, worsening their prognosis. Regular screening blood work helps detect these issues before they can cause problems for your pet. Tests include:
- Complete blood count (CBC) — A CBC assesses your pet’s health to check for abnormalities such as anemia, infection, and blood clot disorders.
- Biochemistry profile — A biochemistry profile is used to check for issues such as kidney and liver disease, diabetes, and electrolyte imbalances.
- Heartworm disease — Heartworms can seriously damage your pet’s heart and lungs, and the American Heartworm Society recommends annual heartworm tests to protect your pet. A heartworm combo test can also determine if your pet has been exposed to tick-borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease.
Why is a regular pet urinalysis important?
Our veterinary team evaluates your pet’s urine to assess their urinary tract and overall health. Factors evaluated include:
- Color — Your pet’s urine should be light yellow, and changes indicate conditions such as dehydration and urinary tract injury.
- Cloudiness — Your pet’s urine should be clear to slightly cloudy, with increased cloudiness possibly indicating blood, inflammatory cells, crystals, mucus, or other debris in the urine.
- Specific gravity — Our veterinary team assesses the urine’s specific gravity to check for issues such as dehydration and kidney disease.
- Acidity — Your pet’s urine should be slightly acidic to slightly alkaline, and extremes in urine pH can indicate an underlying disease.
- Chemical analysis — We evaluate your pet’s urine to measure substances such as:
- Glucose — Glucose in your pet’s urine can indicate conditions including diabetes and kidney disease.
- Blood — Certain collection methods can result in blood in the sample, but other causes include infection, bladder stones, trauma, and cancer.
- Protein — Protein in your pet’s urine can indicate kidney disease.
- Ketones — Ketones in the urine are most commonly caused by diabetes.
- Sediment — Our veterinary team evaluates the urine sediment to look for substances such as white blood cells, red blood cells, bacteria, and crystals.
Why is a regular pet fecal check important?
Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, giardia, and coccidia, commonly target pets and can cause health problems, such as gastrointestinal upset, anemia, and failure to grow normally. Our veterinary team evaluates your pet’s feces to ensure they are parasite-free, and we will prescribe an appropriate deworming medication if we discover an infection.
Ensuring your pet is evaluated by a veterinary professional every six months to a year is the best way to keep them happy and healthy. If you would like to schedule a wellness screening for your pet, contact our Juanita Hills Animal Hospital team, so we can ensure they are in tip top shape.