Your pet’s yearly appointment for a check-up and vaccinations is to keep your pet well. In that visit, your veterinarian is checking for problems visible on a physical exam. We examine your pet’s eyes, ears, hair coat, and skin, listen to the heart and lungs, palpate the abdomen, assess the lymph nodes, and look at the mouth and teeth. Any abnormalities will be discussed and treatment or additional testing recommended.
These tests might include: bloodwork, urinalysis, stool samples, radiographs, or ultrasounds.
Vaccinations are another way we keep pets well. Recommendations are based on the pet’s age and lifestyle.
Other routine wellness tests in southeastern PA include: at least yearly fecal samples to decrease the risk of transmitting intestinal parasites, which can be zoonotic (a disease communicable from animal to man), with potential serious consequences in children. Dogs are screened for heartworm (transmitted by mosquitoes) and Lyme, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma (all transmitted by ticks). Kittens are screened for feline leukemia and feline immunosuppressive virus.
As pets age, they are at risk for chronic illnesses such as kidney or liver disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, and cancer. These diseases may not be apparent to you in the early stages. “Wellness” bloodwork can detect problems earlier, and therefore the disease can be treated more effectively before the pet is noticeably ill, losing weight, etc. Wellness bloodwork can also be used as a baseline for future comparison.
If you have questions about why we make certain recommendations, please ask your veterinarian at your pet’s visit. A website that I often recommend to clients for additional information is: www.veterinarypartner.com. It is a good source for accurate information about a range of veterinary subjects.
Anne C Barnhart, VMD