Comprehensive physical examinations are an important tool in providing a long, quality life for your animal. Pet’s age 5-7 times faster than humans, can’t talk, and often hide early signs of disease. One year represents 5-10% of the pet’s life span, whereas, one year only represents a very small percentage of the average life of a human. Getting a comprehensive physical examination for your animal is like one every 5-7 years for humans.
Since pets can’t talk to us, they often are unable to communicate problems before they become a major concern and threat to the animal’s well being. Regular physical examinations increase the chances of being able to prevent or at least minimize many of the effects of aging.
The information obtained during a comprehensive physical examination of your animal becomes part of his/her medical history, and can be critical when an emergency or sudden illness arises. Any hint of abnormalities may bring recommendations for additional laboratory testing to confirm suspicions. Catching problems early solves problems more rapidly, saving your animal unnecessary discomfort and possibly the costs of more expensive treatment later on.
COMPONENTS OF THE COMPREHENSIVE PHYSICAL EXAMINATION INCLUDE:
WEIGHT & OTHER BODY VITAL SIGNS:
Significant weight gain or loss can be an early warning of disease. Obesity is the most common nutritional problem in pets. Your animal’s overall body condition will be evaluated and appropriate recommendations of diet and other nutritional needs will be made.
SKIN & HAIRCOAT ASSESSMENT:
Dull, dry, brittle hair or hair loss often indicates an underlying illness. Flea infestation can lead to serious disease.
EYES, EARS, & NOSE EVALUATION:
Such things as severe conjunctivitis, cataracts, and glaucoma can sometimes be prevented if detected early enough. Thorough examination of the ear canals can prevent painful ear infections and loss of hearing. The ear canal of pets is anatomically different from humans with the majority of the canal hidden from view with the naked eye. Tumors, grass seeds, excessive wax, and ear mites are commonly found in the lower part of the ear canals.
The oral cavity is thoroughly examined paying particular attention to the teeth and gums. Periodontal disease is very common in pets and leads to many other problems. Periodontal disease causes pain, bad mouth odor, loss of teeth, and leads to infection, which affects many of the internal organs. Bacteria causing gum infections may also be transmitted to other pets or humans. Gum tissue perfusion is also assessed for proper blood circulation. Tonsils are examined for signs of infection.
HEART & LUNG AUSCULTATION:
A stethoscope is used to detect heart murmurs, irregular heartbeats, abnormal heart rhythm, and abnormal lung sounds. Chronic heart failure is very common in both dogs and cats. Early detection may allow your animal to live a longer, healthier life. An ECG screening may also be obtained to detect heart rhythm problems not detectable with the stethoscope. Chest x-rays may be recommended if the examination hints of potential problems.
BONE, JOINT, & SPINE PALPATION:
Manipulation of the musculoskeletal system looks for such things as ligament damage and arthritis.
ABDOMEN & LYMPH NODE PALPATION:
Tumors, inflammation, adhesions, pain, and infection can all sometimes be diagnosed by manual palpation of the abdomen and lymph nodes.
We highly recommend that pets over the age of 6 years get examinations every six months and lab work (blood and urine testing) annually. It is important to create a benchmark at what normal values look like for your pet and then have the ability to screen for disease early.