When it comes to pet check-ups, the fewer surprises you and your dog encounter during each visit, the better. In honor of National Pet Wellness Month - and also because we love all the fur babies out there and want them to live happy and healthy lives - here are the essentials that pet parents can expect of a wellness exam for your furry companions.
Why Are Regular Wellness Visits So Important for Your Dog?
Think about how quickly your health can change from one annual visit to the next. Then think about how rapidly a dog ages, in comparison. Veterinarians keep a running chart of each dog’s medical history, which helps him or her detect anything that is out of the ordinary and run the necessary diagnostics to catch any potential health issues early on.
You don’t want to miss any important signs of aging, illness or injury. Therefore, making and keeping your pet’s wellness appointments annually or semi-annually, depending on your veterinarian’s recommendation and your pet’s overall health, with a trusted veterinary doctor is crucial.
What Can You Expect from Your Dog’s Upcoming Wellness Exam?
A pet wellness exam is meant to be comprehensive; also known among veterinarians as a nose-to-tail examination.
Here are some specifics on what to expect during your dog’s all-encompassing wellness visit:
- The Interview. Your veterinarian will want to talk to you about any visual or measurable changes you’ve noted in your pet, both behavioral and physical. If you own a well-being monitor for your dog, like the Waggit collar, be sure to share the data collected over time with your veterinarian. This better arms your vet to establish baseline data and the trending data can help him/her to learn volumes about your dog in terms of health and activity levels in an instant. Additionally, your vet will ask you questions about any illnesses, excessive fur loss, issues with their vision or hearing, and other standard health concerns you may have for your dog.
- The Weigh-In. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) reported that 54% of U.S. dogs and cats are overweight. A great deal of your pet’s health and happiness relies on maintaining a nutritious diet and healthy weight. Regular weigh-ins can steer you in the right direction for optimal feeding and exercise goals for your fur baby.
- Skin and Fur. A dog’s coat is a good indicator of his or her overall health, so that is an important checkpoint for each visit.
- Eyes. Your veterinarian will check for any signs of discharge or redness in your dog’s eyes, as well as testing for sensitivity to light. For older dogs, veterinarians will look for signs of cataracts.
- Sound Check. The ear flaps, deep ear canals and eardrums are hotbeds for trouble. Your veterinarian will check for any redness, abnormal smells, or indication of parasites, infection, ear mites, and growths or tumors. It is also common for dogs to lose hearing without completely going deaf as they get older. So veterinarians often check for that depending on the age of your pooch.
- Nose and Mouth. The nose is another area where your vet will look for signs of discharge. When examining your dog’s mouth, he or she will look for the presence of abnormal masses, smells or swelling that could indicate periodontal disease.
- Heart, Lungs and Other Vital Organs. Your vet will use a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s heart and lungs to make sure there are no sounds of excess fluid or any other irregularities. Older dogs may need a full check-up of vital organs that include the liver and kidneys.
- Full-Body Analysis. For good and complete measure, your veterinarian will do a full-body review that includes checking your dog’s legs, joints, abdomen and anal sacs.
Additionally, your veterinarian may discuss whether or not you suspect your dog has parasites and worms. If you haven’t already had your pet spayed or neutered, you may expect your veterinarian to discuss this matter with you as well.
Scheduling a Pet Wellness Appointment
Now that you have a good understanding of what to expect, go ahead and schedule that wellness appointment if you haven’t already. Just as we perform preventive and routine check-ups for ourselves, maintaining our fur babies’ health by participating in regular wellness exams can reduce health risks and potentially overall healthcare cost, not to mention helping your beloved furry friend live a healthier and happier life!