The importance of a wellness exam in veterinary medicine is greatly undervalued. Did you know that your pet may not exhibit clinical signs of disease until it is too late? Dogs and cats naturally do not want you to know that they are sick. This goes back to their basic instincts of survival. Our pets also crave attention and just want to make their owners happy; therefore, they may disguise their illnesses so that they can continue to be with their owners. Did you also know that certain diseases like liver and kidney disease takes 75% organ failure before your pet will show clinical signs? Cancer is another disease that is becoming more common in our pets and most of the time goes undetected until it is too late.

A wellness exam includes a thorough physical exam of your pet from head to toe. During the physical exam, a veterinarian will check your pet’s body condition, eyes, ears, heart and lung sounds, temperature, nervous system, and palpate their belly to make sure their organs are normal size and no palpable masses are present. If any abnormalities are noted, they will be discussed with you as well as any recommended diagnostics or treatments that may be necessary.

A wellness exam appointment is not limited to just the physical exam of your pet. This is an opportunity for you to ask questions to your pet’s health expert, the veterinarian. The veterinarian will go over appropriate preventive health care for your pet based on their age and lifestyle. Some things that may be discussed are vaccination protocols, heartworm disease and prevention, flea and tick borne disease and prevention, the importance of checking your pets stool for intestinal parasites and proper deworming, possible behavior/anxiety problems, nutrition, and dental care. Appropriate vaccination protocols help to prevent diseases that not only affect your pet but some that are potentially communicable to you. Heartworms, fleas/ticks, and intestinal parasites can all cause severe health risks to your pet and some diseases they transmit can be spread to you. It has been proven that proper preventive health care will extend your pets life and keep family members healthier.

Wellness exams are important for several reasons. They help ensure your pet is getting the best/appropriate preventive care for their age and lifestyle to help them live the longest and healthiest life possible. They help diagnose diseases or abnormalities in the early stage which has been proven to more successfully treat or resolve the disease with less expense and difficulty. Don’t forget, your pet cannot tell you when they are feeling bad or hurting. Be your pets advocate and have them examined by a veterinarian at least once a year, and every 6 months for senior pets.

Just some facts:

  • 80% of pets have some form of dental disease by three years of age.
  • Cancer accounts for almost half of the deaths of pets over the age of 10.
  • Arrowhead Veterinary Clinic has seen a 9 fold increase in positive parvovirus cases in the past 5 years. Parvovirus is a potentially fatal disease and is very preventable with proper vaccination.
  • The most common reason for a pet to be re-homed is behavior or health problems.
  • One in five adult dogs suffers from joint disease.
  • 40% of cats over the age of 5 have chronic kidney disease. 80% of cats over the age of 15 have chronic kidney disease.
  • 90% of geriatric cats suffer from joint disease.
  • Pets age approximately 3 times faster than humans depending on their size.