Pet Wellness Exams and Plans
Your pets can’t always tell you where it hurts. The basis of any preventive medical regimen is regular wellness exams. A comprehensive physical exam at Westfield Animal Hospital allows our doctors to compile a list of clues that can help uncover a problem. Early detection and treatment are essential to avoid undue suffering and to prolong the quality and longevity of your pet’s life.
At home, watch for subtle changes in your pet’s body weight, appetite, water intake, urination and bowel habits, as well as general attitude and activity level. These changes may be signs of medical problems. Lumps and bumps under the skin may seem harmless, but can be cancerous. Abscessed teeth and gum disease are common, painful conditions that may not become obvious until seriously advanced. A comprehensive physical exam is the tool to evaluate your dog’s, cat’s or other pet’s health status and to help you make informed decisions about the care of your special companion.
Pets age at a much more rapid rate than do humans. All pets should receive twice yearly examinations so that we can make sure there are no health issues and we can answer any questions you may have. This is especially important for senior pets, animals over seven years of age. Wellness exams allow us to get a general picture of your pet’s overall health and are invaluable in diagnosing and treating your companion.
What to Expect
During your pet’s wellness checkup, one of our Westfield veterinarians will:
- Listen to your pet’s heart – Early signs of cardiac disease such as heart murmurs and abnormal heartbeat patterns known as arrhythmias can be heard through a stethoscope. Discovering these initial indicators of trouble ahead of time can lead to identifying and treating the underlying condition before it becomes a more serious health threat.
- Listen to your pet’s lungs – Health issues such as infections, obstructive diseases and other respiratory problems can be detected by listening to your pet’s lungs.
- Check your pet’s teeth and oral cavity – Examining your pet’s mouth and teeth is an important part of your pet’s wellness exam. Gingivitis, if left untreated, can lead to loss of teeth and a more severe problem called periodontal disease. Very young animals, such as kittens and puppies, also need to be checked to ensure they are developing an appropriate bite and that they are losing their baby teeth at the right time. We also take the time to discuss proper home dental care with you.
- Evaluate your pet’s Vision – Many diseases if found early can be easily treated. Conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts can be prevented through regular care and screenings.
- Look into your pet’s ears – As with dental disease, ear disease is relatively common in many types of pets. Issues such as allergies, ear mites, yeast infections and bacteria can all cause and contribute to otitis or ear disease. Though you may feel this is an area that can be well-handled at home, the fact is that many ear diseases are difficult to detect and require medical attention.
- Palpate your pet’s lymph nodes, abdomen and skin – We look for unusual lumps or swellings as well as skin discolorations, lesions or patterns of hair loss or thinning. Certain abnormalities indicate the presence of more systemic problems, especially metabolic diseases, which most commonly occur in middle-aged or older animals.
- Palpate the joints and muscles – We evaluate your pet for swollen and painful joints, decreased muscle tone and variations in muscle size between the legs. We also observe your pet’s gait for developmental issues. In puppies, we look for early indications of hip or elbow problems. For older pets, we look for signs of arthritis, which can be well treated if found early.
- Early disease detection laboratory testing – Laboratory testing is essential in knowing what’s going on inside your pet. A complete blood count, chemistry panel, heartworm, Lyme test and fecal exam are necessary for maintaining a close eye on your pet’s health