A comprehensive physical examination is key to ensuring your pet's long-term health and well-being. Early detection of diseases through regular examinations may prolong your pet's life as well as aid in the quality of their life. Subtle changes in weight, appetite, elimination habits, behavior and attitude may all be indications of disease that need immediate attention. At Canyon Creek Animal Clinic, we recommended your pet receive yearly physical examinations; this is the equivalent of a human being going to the doctor about once every three years, until they reach the age of 7. After the age of 7, when your pet is considered a senior, they should be seen at least twice a year to monitor for common diseases that occur with age, such as arthritis and kidney disease.
What is checked during a comprehensive physical exam?
Gait: (Amble or Movement)
We watch the pet's movements and walking patterns to check for tenderness or lameness/soreness in joints. Sometimes we are able to detect problems like arthritis or the onset of joint disease.
We use an instrument called an ophthalmoscope to examine the pet's eyes. We are looking for two main problems we see often in dogs and cats: cataracts and retinal disease.
We use an otoscope to look inside the pet's ears. This procedure allows us to do an in depth examination of the ear drum and ear canal. By examining the ears, we are able to detect infections and/or parasites that could harm the pet.
We inspect the pet's mouth for any abnormal growths or lesions. We examine the pet's gum color and hydration.
Heart & Lungs:
We use a stethoscope to listen to the pet's lungs and heart. Using a technique called auscultation, we are able to detect some murmurs, heart and/or lung disease and arrhythmias.
We check the pet's lymph nodes for changes in size, tenderness, and symmetry.
We examine the skin of the pet to look for ectoparasites, which are parasites which latch on to the skin of the pet externally. We look for lesions, tumors, or other abnormal growths.
We check the pet's abdomen to detect changes or abnormalities in the size of the organs, such as the kidneys, spleen, or liver. Palpating the organs can aid in the diagnosis of disorders or diseases such as bladder stones or tumors.
We examine the pet's external genitalia for changes in appearance. For example, we check for changes in size, color, or texture. We also palpate the prostate gland during this part of the exam.
We examine the pet's behavior, reactions, and reflexes to evaluate the nervous system.