Ever wonder what your veterinarian is looking for when she examines your pet? There is more to it than you might think!
Veterinarians are actually like medical instruments themselves – their senses of touch, sight, and smell are finely tuned to alert on abnormalities in your pet. We know, looks can be deceiving – your veterinarian is so nice, it often just looks like she’s petting and snuggling your pet in the exam room! But to find out what’s really going on, check out this guide – Your Pet’s Physical Exam – and learn how amazing your veterinarian really is.
Here’s a closer look at each area of your pet’s body that your veterinarian is assessing while she performs an exam:
- Ocular exam: Looking into your pet’s eyes allows us to visualize current or potential problems in the external and internal eye.
- Ear exam: Ear infections are very common in dogs. A dog’s ear canal is very long and deep; often, we find infections in a dog’s ears that the owners were unaware of.
- Oral exam: A look at your pet’s teeth and gums can give us an idea of potential dental problems as well as your pet’s overall health. For example, did you know you can tell how a pet is feeling by the color of his/her gums?
- Body Condition Score (BCS): The BCS is a scale (1-9) that allows us to assess your pet’s weight. This helps us formulate a diet and exercise plan that best suits your pet’s body, activity level and lifestyle. For an illustration of the 1-9 scale, click here for dogs and click here for cats.
- Abdominal palpation: Palpation is the act of feeling with one’s hands. By doing an abdominal palpation, we can actually feel some of the pet’s liver, kidneys, intestines, spleen and bladder. Most importantly, we can find abnormalities that warrant further investigation on perfectly normal and healthy pets.
- Overall body palpation: This allows us to scan the body for abnormalities, such as enlarged lymph nodes or tumors.
- Heart and lung auscultation: Auscultation is the act of listening to the internal sounds of the body with a stethoscope. This allows us to listen for normal rates and rhythms, as well as pick up murmurs and arrhythmias in otherwise normal and healthy pets.
- Skin and coat examination: Your pet’s exterior is a great reflection of a number of potential concerns. Parasites, tumors, nutritional issues and overall body health are all observable through this part of the examination.
In addition, wellness exams are the perfect time to discuss any concerns regarding behavior, perceived discomforts, nutrition, weight, grooming, sleep patterns, family interaction and more.