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Health Exam (Complete Physical Exam)

Because our pets age so much more rapidly than we do, we cannot over-emphasize the importance of a semi-annual (every six months) comprehensive physical examination. During a comprehensive physical examination, our doctors assess the following on your pet: cardiovascular system, respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, urinary and reproductive systems, central nervous system, eyes, ears, skin, coat, mouth, teeth, gums, and weight.

The value of a physical exam is obvious when symptoms of illness are observed in your pet. But what about an apparently healthy pet? Is a good appetite an indicator of health? Birds, for example, can eat up until a few minutes prior to death. Some diseases also actually cause an increase in appetite. What about activity? Many pet owners have attributed decreased activity to aging when in reality the decrease was disease related. How many pet owners even feel comfortable opening their pet’s mouth, taking their pet’s temperature, pulse or respiration rate? Do you want to wait until your pet’s heart murmur causes coughing or your pet’s tooth abscesses to have him examined? Do you really know if your pet is healthy?

Consider that the first two years of a dog or cat’s life is roughly equivalent to 20 years of human life. Each year thereafter is approximately five years of human life and in giant breed dogs it’s probably closer to 7-8 years. Also consider that pets can’t talk and therefore have more difficulty communicating their health problems. They rely on your observation and the health care you provide for them. Because of these factors the periodic physical exam becomes very significant in preventative health care, so that minor problems can be detected before they become major health problems.

We recommend health exams with each booster for puppies and kittens. At this age puppies and kittens are growing and changing so rapidly that a health problem may not surface on the initial examination. For our adult dogs and cats a semi-annual exam is recommended. For pets with specific health problems or senior pets, additional examinations and rechecks may be recommended, depending on each pet’s situation. Exotic pets should be examined when they first enter a new home and thereafter on a semi-annual or annual basis. Additional exams may be recommended depending on species, age, etc.

An exam alone is not capable of detecting all possible health problems, but it goes a long way to insuring the health of your pet. Every veterinarian can relate cases where a serious health problem was detected on examination that even a conscientious owner was unaware of. The health examination is probably the most important service available to protect your pet’s health.