What is a Wellness Examination?

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A thorough head to tail veterinary examination may detect a disease or medical condition that can be managed or corrected before irreversible damage occurs. Yearly exams can detect problems early on when they are more likely to be managed and resolved with less cost, less complication and a higher rate of success.

What will my veterinarian check during a wellness examination?

During a routine wellness examination, Dr. Marsch will ask you questions about your pet’s diet, activity, appetite, thirst, elimination patterns (i.e., bowel movements and urination), breathing, behavior, and general lifestyle. Dr. Marsch will also discuss age related for breed specific concerns. Following your pet’s medical history, a physical examination will occur.

Dr. Marsch will observe or inspect:

  • Your pet’s general body condition – whether your pet has an appropriate body weight and body condition (neither too fat nor too thin). Whether your pet is bright and alert and possibly their core body temperature.
  • Abdominal palpation (feeling of the belly) to detect any specific abnormalities of the bladder, kidneys, liver, intestines, spleen and stomach and whether there is any subtle evidence of discomfort
  • The heart & pulse – listening for abnormal heart rate, heart rhythm (“skipped beats” or “extra beats”), or heart murmurs
  • The lungs – listening for evidence of increased or decreased breath sounds
  • The haircoat & skin – looking for lumps or bumps, excessive dryness, excessive oiliness, evidence of dandruff or flea dirt and abnormal hair loss
  • How your pet walks and stands. Dr. Marsch will look for evidence of lameness, muscle problems, nerve problems, problems with the paws or toenails, etc.
  • The lymph nodes in the region of the head, neck and hind legs – looking for swelling or pain
  • The eyes – looking for redness, discharge, evidence of excessive tearing, abnormal lumps or bumps on the eyelids, how well the eyelids close, cloudiness, or any other abnormalities.
  • The ears – looking for discharges, thickening, hair loss, or any other signs of 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.

What else might be checked during a wellness examination?

East Side Animal Hospital typically recommends a fresh sample of your pet’s feces (bowel movement) to be checked for intestinal parasites on a yearly basis. In puppies & kittens, monthly fecal examinations are extremely important as intestinal parasites are a common neonatal problem. Dr. Marsch also recommends annual heartworm testing for all canine patients in the Daviess County area.
Depending on the age of your pet and their physical exam findings, Dr. Marsch may recommend additional testing including a blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and thyroid hormone testing. For our senior patients, additional wellness screening tests may include chest or abdominal x-rays to assess the size and appearance of the internal organs (heart, lungs, kidneys, liver) or x-rays of the skeletal system to look for degenerative changes in the bones or joints.

How often should my pet have a wellness examination?

The answer to this question depends on your pet’s age and current health status. For new puppies & kittens under 5 months of age, wellness exams are recommended every 3 to 4 weeks. For the average adult dog & cat annual wellness examinations are typical, and for middle aged or geriatric dogs & cats semi-annual examinations may be recommended.

Following an examination, our doctor are in the best position to recommend how often your dog or cat should have a wellness examination, based on his or her specific breed, health status and lifestyle.

How should I prepare for my pet’s wellness examination?

When you book the appointment with our clinic, you should ask whether you should fast your dog before the visit. You should also ask whether you should bring in fresh urine or fecal samples.

Prepare yourself with some basic information, such as the brand and type of food that your dog eats, a list of any medications (including flea/tick/heartworm prevention) your pet takes, whether you give your pet any supplements, and whether anybody in the family has noticed any problems. This information will greatly help our doctor and support staff provide the best health plan for your furry friend.