• A Wellness Exam is an overall health assessment that includes a thorough physical exam, a discussion of behavior, diet/nutrition and a risk assessment to determine needed vaccinations and prevention medications. It may also include screening for parasites (fleas/ticks, intestinal, +/- blood-borne, i.e., heartworm), blood tests (CBC, Chemistries, +/- Thyroid level) and a urinalysis.
• A Wellness Exam is recommended for all pets at least annually.
• Brook-Falls Veterinary Hosptial and Exotic Care, Inc., recommends Wellness Exams at least every six months for senior pets, some exotic pets and pets with chronic health issues.
• A Wellness Exam can help ensure your pet’s health and detect any disease states at an early age where they are often more treatable.
The Wellness Exam visit will vary depending on the species, age, and health needs of the patient. Often, this will coincide with when your pet is due for vaccination(s). The Wellness Exam visit actually begins prior to the stated appointment time. We ask that you fill out a preliminary checklist along with a complete medical history of your pet, at least once a year. This checklist can be sent to you via e-mail and then returned before the exam; this allows your pets doctor ample time to evaluate the information. It can also be filled out when you arrive for your appointment. This questionnaire will ask about any recent health issues, any older health concerns, medications being administered, what food your pet is eating and what activities you participate with your pet. You should also bring a list of questions that you may have about your pet’s health. This is the perfect time to ask these questions.
Each wellness exams includes a complete physical examination, which is a “nose-to-tail” inspection for any abnormalities. Your veterinarian will use special equipment, including a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs, an otoscope to view the inside of the ears, and an ophthalmoscope to examine the eyes. Your veterinarian will also feel all over your pet’s body to assess overall body condition, evaluate the lymph nodes, check muscling and joints, look for the presence of external parasites, infections, and any lumps/bumps. An evaluation of the teeth and gums will also be performed. In addition, your veterinarian will check your pet’s vital signs (pulse, respiration, +/- temperature) and record your pet’s current weight. In many cases, a wellness examination can help detect the early stages of disease.
Your veterinarian will be able to discuss with you any behavioral issues you may have. And will go over what diet you are feeding and make appropriate recommendations based on your pet’ age, weight and lifestyle.
Your veterinarian may wish to perform laboratory testing on samples of blood, urine, and stool during a Wellness Exam. The blood test may include a complete blood cell count (CBC) and a chemistry panel. These tests can help determine if your pet has problems such as anemia, infection, or organ disease. Other tests, such as a thyroid evaluation, may be helpful, depending on the findings during the physical examination and on the patient history. These tests may also serve as a “base-line” of the metabolic condition of a pet. They also become important to monitor when pets are on certain long term medications to ensure the pets safety while taking them. Lastly, they can be used as a “pre-surgical/dental” assessment before anesthesia, if surgery or dental work is indicated.
Parasite screening tests are usually performed during wellness examinations. Your veterinarian may request that you bring in a sample of your pet’s stool for analysis. A fresh stool sample can be tested using special procedures to identify parasites. However, not all parasites are detected through stool samples, ie Heartworm requires a blood sample.
Your veterinarian may also recommend checking your pet’s urine by performing a urinalysis. This helps determine whether your pet’s kidneys are working correctly and may also help diagnose certain conditions, such as diabetes or a urinary tract infection and can detect the presence of abnormal crystals. Depending on your pet’s age, current medical condition, and medical history, your veterinarian may recommend additional tests as part of your pet’s wellness examination.
Additionally, as part of a Wellness Exam, your veterinarian will want to review and discuss parasite risks and prevention options and will recommend any vaccinations that may be appropriate for your pet. For dogs and cats, there are “core” vaccinations that should be considered for all pets, with few exceptions. Depending on lifestyle there are optional or “non-core” vaccinations as well that may be appropriate. For most other species, there are no vaccinations available.
A Wellness Examination is an essential part of preventive health care for all pets in all stages of life, from the very young to the very old /senior pets. If your pet seems to be young and healthy, a Wellness Examination is a good way to detect changes such as weight gain or loss, dental disease, or other subtle changes that may not be evident at home like a heart murmur, fractured tooth to name a few.
For any pet, especially senior pets, a Wellness Examination is an excellent way to detect the early onset of disease. Early diagnosis and treatment of diseases, such as diabetes, kidney or heart disease, can significantly improve the overall health and well-being of your pet.
We at Brook-Falls work hard every day to help pets’ live longer and happier lives. Wellness Exams are one of the best ways that we can do this. Contact us today to schedule a Wellness Exam for you “best friend.”