Wellness exams mean much more than just getting a vaccine. They are a way to teach owners how to keep their pets healthy and a chance to catch disease early. Wellness exams should be tailored to meet the needs of the individual pet. A 2-year-old Yorkshire Terrier has very different medical concerns than a 2-year-old Great Dane. And a 10-year-old Golden Retriever is genetically-predisposed to illnesses that are very different from those that a 10-year-old cat worries about.
During a wellness exam, we discuss the need for and give vaccines based on your pet’s risk of disease exposure. We perform a thorough physical exam noting any areas of concern for further workup. Based on your pet’s breed and age, we then recommend screening tests that will help us detect early disease. For instance, Golden Retrievers are prone to various forms of cancer and hypothyroidism. For a middle-aged or older Golden, we recommend bloodwork that includes a chemistry panel, complete blood count (CBC) and thyroid level. Senior kitties are prone to heart disease, kidney disease and hyperthyroidism. For them, we recommend bloodwork and a blood pressure screening. Being proactive with screening tests allows us to catch these diseases early–sometimes before your pet even starts showing signs of illness! This makes for a better prognosis, especially for serious conditions like cancer.
Client education is a big part of early detection. Owners need to know what the subtle signs of illness are. During exams, we mention symptoms of common diseases–let owners know what physical or behavioral changes are serious. Prevention also plays a key role in overall health. We inform owners about ways to prevent disease by using tools like nutrition and supplements.
As your pet ages, wellness exams become even more important. A year in a pet’s life is like 6 or 7 years in our life. That may not mean much going from age 2 to age 3 for a dog or cat. For pets who are senior citizens however, a lot can happen in just 2 or 3 months! Bloodwork can completely change. New medical problems can develop. Early detection becomes critical. But even if your pet is not a senior, wellness screenings are still important. Unfortunately, you don’t have to be old to get sick! We have seen young pets present for their spays or neuters and bloodwork reveals kidney failure–a genetic disorder that they were born with. The best way to keep informed about your pet’s health is a semi-annual wellness exam that includes disease screenings.