National Pet Month is April and this year’s theme celebrates the importance of regular veterinary exams with the message, “Love Your Pet, See Your Vet.”
So, what exactly are you getting when you bring your pet in for a check-up? More than you might think!
Annual and bi-annual exams are actually a complete head-to-toe physical for your pet, including examination of the eyes, ears and mouth, heart and lung auscultation and abdominal and overall body palpation.
Here’s a closer look at what these exams can tell us:
- Ocular exam: Looking into your pet’s eyes allows us to visualize current or potential problems in the external and internal eye.
- Aural exam: Ear infections are very common in dogs. A dog’s ear canal is very long and deep; often, we find infections in a dog’s ears that the owners were unaware of.
- Oral exam: A look at your pet’s teeth and gums can give us an idea of potential dental problems as well as your pet’s overall health. For example, did you know you can tell how a pet is feeling by the color of his/her gums?
- Body Condition Score (BCS): The BCS is a scale (1-9) that allows us to assess your pet’s weight. This helps us formulate a diet and exercise plan that best suits your pet’s body, activity level and lifestyle.
- Abdominal palpation: Palpation is the act of feeling with one’s hands. By doing an abdominal palpation, we can actually feel some of the pet’s liver, kidneys, intestines, spleen and bladder. Most importantly, we can find abnormalities that warrant further investigation on perfectly normal and healthy pets.
- Overall body palpation: This allows us to scan the body for abnormalities, such as enlarged lymph nodes or tumors.
- Heart and lung auscultation: Auscultation is the act of listening to the internal sounds of the body with a stethoscope. This allows us to listen for normal rates and rhythms, as well as pick up murmurs and arrhythmias in otherwise normal and healthy pets.
In addition, wellness exams are the perfect time to discuss any concerns regarding behavior, nutrition, weight, grooming, sleep patterns, family interaction and more.
The American Veterinary Medical Association created National Pet Week in 1981 to foster responsible pet ownership, recognize the human-animal bond and increase public awareness of veterinary medicine.