A complete medical assessment is centered around a thorough physical examination and history of your pets lifestyle. All pets should be examined yearly by your veterinarian. Pets age about seven times as fast as we do, so older pets should be examined even more often (every six months). Examinations are critical to help veterinarians detect any abnormalities or evidence of early disease. With appropriate diagnostics, medications or lifestyle changes, we can help maintain, improve and often prolong the length and quality of your pet’s life.
At the start of a complete medical assessment, a thorough history will be taken by a Registered Animal Health Technologist. Common questions would include:
- Diet: What food is your pet eating (specific brand)? How much per serving? How many times per day? Treats? Human food or table scraps?
- Exercise: How long? How many times per day? Are there changes to mobility – difficulty or slowness to rise from a laying position? Changes to how they walk?
- Bathroom habits: What is the appearance of urine and stool. How frequently? Any house accidents?
- Systemic manifestations – Is there any vomiting, diarrhea, coughing or sneezing?
- Travel history and exposure to other animals: Boarding facilities, doggy daycare, grooming, off leash parks? Is your cat indoor or outdoor (on a leash supervised or free roaming)? Does your pet hunt?
- Behaviour: is there any change to your pet’s personality regarding – interactions with other animals? People? New situations they were previously comfortable with?
- Skin: changes in appearance to the skin? Dandruff, hair loss, itch, new lumps / bumps, redness, lesions are just some of the symptoms that can represent a problem.
- Parasite Exposure & Control: Have you seen ticks or fleas on your pet? Is your dog up to date on Heartworm prevention and Intestinal deworming?
During a physical examination, your veterinarian will assess your pet’s:
- Vitals – Temperature (ear or rectal), heart rate and respiration rate. They will note your pet’s current weight relative to previous visits and assign a body condition score, which is a measure of how healthy the weight is for their frame.
- Eyes – For abnormal appearance to the eyelids or globe: redness, discharge, abnormal ocular reflexes. On some an occasions, the veterinarian will use an ophthalmoscope to assess the inside of the eye.
- Ears – For abnormal appearance to the skin of the ear: redness, abnormal debris inside the canal, lumps or discomfort when the ear canal is palpated.
- Nose – For abnormal appearance, discharge, change in colour or lumps.
- Mouth – For any oral lumps, colour of mucus membranes, tongue health and soft tissue health in general.
- Teeth – For signs of periodontal disease such as gingivitis, tartar, bad breath. Are there fractured, loose or missing teeth?
- Lymph Nodes – For any enlargement of: submandibular, prescapular, axillary, inguinal and popliteal lymph nodes.
- Heart – Any abnormalities to the rate, rhythm or sound.
- Lungs – Any abnormalities to the rate or sound: crackles, wheezes, muffled, rails, starter, stridor.
- Abdomen – Palpation for pain or abnormalities to the: liver, stomach, kidneys, intestines, bladder, spleen.
- Joints – Palpation of all joints in the forelimbs, hindlimbs, neck and spine for: swelling, pain, range of motion, change to anatomy.
- Skin & Coat– For abnormal lumps / bumps, hair loss, or areas of itchiness. Quality of the coat.
- Muscle Mass – For muscle loss and symmetry. A body condition score will be given that takes into account the weight your pet is carrying for their frame.
On the basis of history and physical examination findings, your veterinarian will provide an assessment and recommendation.