Examination is the single most important aspect of your pet’s annual visit. When your pet receives a full physical exam from one of our doctors they will be looking your pet over from head to tail, literally. The doctor usually begins by auscultating the heart and lungs. They will be listening for abnormal heart sounds or rhythms, and evaluate the lung fields by listening to breaths. Next, they will palpate your pet’s abdomen gently feeling their internal organs for any abnormalities. Then they look over the skin, hair coat, anal/genital area, and examine the ears and eyes with specialized scopes. Finally, they check the mouth and teeth to assess your pet’s oral health, including any indications for Periodontal disease.
We typically also obtain vitals such as a current weight, body temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate and pair everything with a thorough history from you. Sometimes something as simple as weighing a pet turns out to be a key diagnostic tool. Since our pets cannot talk and therefore cannot tell us why they are feeling bad, a physical examination is a key part of diagnosing illness. A Poor quality hair coat can lead us in the direction of endocrine disorders, painful abdominal palpation can mean anything from simple gastrointestinal upset to serious spinal pain and a through eye examination could lead us to uncover ocular changes that indicate something like high blood pressure. Many of these above discoveries often go unnoticed by you, the pet parent, because our animals instinctively hide their problems. Keeping in mind how our pets age quicker than we do, even yearly examinations can be like us only seeing the doctor every 5 to 8 years. This is why we encourage at least an annual examination. Finding issues early on is the key to preventing or slowing the progression of disease.
At Health and Harmony we are all about prevention: prevention of disease, prevention of behavior problems, prevention of parasites, etc. Prevention is far easier and many times much less expensive than treatment.