The backbone of well-care is the physical exam. Annual physical exams are important because dogs and cats do not tend to communicate problems to us. Also, every year of a pet's life is equal to 5-7 years for their owners. A thorough nose-to-tail examination allows the veterinarian to find problems that even the most caring owner may be unaware of.
The routine physical exam involves:
- examination of the eyes, ears and oral cavity
- listening to the heart and lungs
- palpating the abdominal organs, thyroid gland and lymph nodes
- checking the skin for any masses, parasites or infection
- palpating the limbs, joints and spine
- examining the genital and anal region
- monitoring weight gain/loss
Each practitioner may examine your pet in their unique way.
More focused exams may be done for specific complaints involving eyes, ears, skin or joint symptoms.
The physical exam may be supplemented by additional diagnostics for sick patients, patients with specific risk factors/problems, or as part of aging well care.