Regular wellness screenings are one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to improve your pet’s longevity and quality of life. Our Southwest Vet team wants to provide information about what these visits involve, and reasons why they are so important to your pet’s health and wellbeing.
#1: Wellness screenings help keep your pet at a healthy weight
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s (APOP) 2018 clinical survey found that 55.8% of dogs and 59.5% of cats were classified as overweight or obese by their veterinary healthcare professional. This is a serious welfare issue for pets, because the condition can be extremely disabling, and can predispose pets to metabolic disorders, respiratory problems, high blood pressure, certain cancers, and arthritis. Regular wellness screenings help our veterinary professionals track your pet and determine if their weight is healthy. Methods we employ include:
- Weighing your pet — We accurately weigh your pet and record the findings, so we can easily track their weight.
- Assessing your pet’s body conditioning score (BCS) — BCS is a tool designed to assess a pet’s body reserves to help determine their weight status.
- Testing for metabolic diseases — Certain metabolic diseases, including hypothyroidism, can lead to unexplained weight gain. If your pet has signs of a metabolic problem, we perform testing to determine if a disease is contributing to their weight gain.
- Devising a weight loss strategy — We devise an appropriate diet and exercise plan to help your overweight pet safely lose the extra pounds.
#2: Wellness screenings protect your pet from dental disease
Most pets experience some degree of dental disease by 3 years of age. Bacteria are attracted to food material left in your pet’s mouth, and these pathogens invade under the gum line and damage the tooth’s supporting structures. In addition, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and damage organs throughout your pet’s body. During a regular wellness screening, we examine your pet’s mouth for dental disease signs and may recommend a professional veterinary dental cleaning to remove the harmful bacteria if we see evidence your pet is affected.
#3: Wellness screening physical exams protect your pet from health conditions
Pets are great at hiding illness—they will instinctively conceal vulnerabilities, which can make knowing if they are sick difficult. During a wellness screening physical examination, we thoroughly assess your pet from head to tail, looking for abnormalities that could indicate a health condition and affect their quality of life. A typical evaluation includes:
- Temperature — Body temperature abnormalities can indicate issues such as infection, metabolic conditions, and inflammation.
- Eyes — Pets are skilled at adapting to vision loss, especially if their sight fails gradually, and you may not realize they have issues. We examine your pet’s eyes for conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, dry eye, and retinal degeneration.
- Ears — Chronic ear infections are common in certain dog breeds, and we assess your pet’s ears to ensure they are not infected or have other abnormalities.
- Skin — We closely examine your pet’s skin and hair coat for allergic dermatitis and other skin issues that frequently affect pets.
- Chest — We auscultate your pet’s chest to listen to their heart and lungs. Our trained veterinary professionals can detect heart arrhythmias, murmurs, and airflow abnormalities through their stethoscope.
- Abdomen — We carefully palpate your pet’s abdomen to determine if their organs are normally sized and to feel for abdominal masses.
- Lymph nodes — We palpate your pet’s lymph nodes to ensure they are not enlarged, which could indicate an underlying health problem.
- Limbs — We assess your pet’s gait and palpate their limbs and joints to ensure they aren’t lame or affected by joint pain.
#4: Wellness screening laboratory diagnostics protect your pet from disease
Health conditions are best managed and treated when they are diagnosed in the early stages, so we perform diagnostics during a regular wellness screening to help detect abnormalities before they can cause your pet problems. Common diagnostics include:
- Complete blood count (CBC) — A CBC evaluates your pet’s red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Abnormalities can indicate conditions such as infection, inflammation, anemia, clotting disorders, and certain cancers.
- Biochemistry profile — A biochemistry profile assesses several body systems to evaluate your pet’s overall health status. Abnormalities can indicate conditions such as diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and electrolyte imbalances.
- Urinalysis — A urinalysis assesses your pet’s urine content, color, pH, and specific gravity. Abnormalities can indicate conditions such as urinary crystals, diabetes, urinary tract infections, and kidney disease.
- Fecal check — We perform a fecal check to ensure your pet is not harboring parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, coccidia, and giardia.
- Heartworm test — We recommend a heartworm test once a year to ensure these dangerous parasites cannot cause significant heart and lung damage in your pet.
We recommend that your pet be evaluated by a veterinary professional at least once a year, and senior pets every six months. In addition to catching diseases, these visits are important to allow us to develop a relationship with you and your pet. A thorough medical history on your pet helps us provide optimal veterinary care, and allows us to formulate a health care plan customized to their needs and lifestyle. If you would like to schedule a wellness visit, contact our low stress Southwest Vet team, so we can help your pet live a long and healthy life.