Physical exams are just as important for your pet as they are for you and me. Please remember our pets age 7-14 years for every human year! They are probably even more important because your dog or cat can't tell you when they need to go to the doctor! There may be signs from your pet that they are sick, such as laziness, lack of appetite, change in demeanor, among others. If you notice these symptoms you should schedule an appointment with your vet. Even if your pet seems to be perfectly healthy, you should bring them in for a physical exam at least once a year, and more often if they are older. The NC State Veterinary Medical Board states that a valid and current Veterinary-Client-Patient relationship must exist in order to obtain veterinary services. Your pet's exam will be very similar to a physical you would have, including checking:
Ears: The ears are checked for infections, allergies, parasites, tumors, foreign bodies, etc
Eyes: The eyes are checked for eyelid diseases, cherry eye, tumors, conjunctivits, cataracts, retinal disease, signs of glaucoma, and other abnormalities. .
Mouth: Gum disease, lesions, tooth loss, tooth decay and throat problems all affect dogs and cats. They could be signs of larger problems. Performing a full mouth examination allows us to diagnose any problems and take care of them before becoming serious.
Internal Organs: The internal organs are examined to check that they are functioning properly. The abdominal area can be checked by hand for any growths or tumors. A stethoscope is used to make sure the lungs are functioning properly and are also used to check heart rate. An ultrasound (by referral) can also be performed to provide a view of the organs to visually check for anything out of the ordinary.
Skin and Coat: We check for red areas, bald areas, tumors, non-healing lesions, allergic skin, fleas, ticks or other parasites that have made your pet their home.
Musculoskeletal: We check for limping or lameness, symmetry of muscles, bone pain, joint anomalies, joint pain, muscle pain, etc.
Circulatory/Respiratory: We listen to the heart for arrythmias, murmurs, clicks, muffled sounds, etc. We listen to lungs for abnormal sounds, fluid, difficulty breathing, etc.
GIT: If your pet has or is experiencing vomitting, diarrhea, constipation, anorexia, hyporexia, esophageal to anal problems we will check for it.
Genito-Urinary: We check for any problems urinating as in, urinating too much, not enough or not at all. We check your pets genitalia for abnormalitiies. In males we like to examine the prostate especially if the male is un-neutered.
Lymphatics: All areas where lymph nodes can be felt externally will be palpated for size, symmetry, and shape.
Dietary Habits: The Doctor will ask about your pets eating habits and what your pet is being fed. Table scraps are not a good choice and it is best to feed your pet before you eat which should cut down on pet begging and lessen the chances of feeding your pet scraps. A good quality can or kibble food once or twice daily will be enough for most pets. For overweight or "Sexy" pets canned food is highly recommended with a small portion of raw carrots and green beans to supplement.
If any potential problems are uncovered further tests may be necessary to rule out the disease, or properly diagnose it so that it can be treated.