How do you know if your pet is sick? Aside from obvious symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea or being unable to move around, it can be extremely difficult to tell that your pet is unwell. Animals are naturally inclined to mask vulnerabilities - and this includes many of the typical signs of illness. What this means is that by the time you realize your pet is sick, chances are whatever is ailing him may have progressed significantly and potentially cause irreparable damage to his health.
Unfortunately, there are lots of different health problems and diseases that can affect our animals. Some may develop slowly over time, while others can be caught from coming into contact with a creature that is carrying a virus or bacterial infection. While some of these problems may be mild, others can have life-threatening consequences.
Fortunately, there is one thing that any responsible owner can do to ensure that their precious pet remains as healthy as possible - make sure that he attends regular wellness checks.
What are wellness checks?
Many people are asked to visit their doctor's office at least once a year for a general check-up. Pet wellness checks are no different. These visits, which are usually scheduled annually, are an opportunity for our veterinarians to perform a thorough assessment of your pet's health. We do this by looking at lots of different aspects of his well-being. The results of these individual examinations and assessments will be recorded and used as a benchmark for future visits. This enables us to identify any patterns that develop that could suggest risk of an underlying health problem.
What do you look at as part of my pet's wellness check?
As we mentioned, we like to do a very thorough job of assessing your pet's health and as such, there are various different elements to consider. These include the following:
Standard health checks
These observations are fairly standard procedure whenever your pet visits a veterinary professional and include things like his weight, his body temperature, his blood pressure, his heart rate and respiratory rate. We may also ask you to bring samples of urine and feces so that these can be checked too. Urine can tell us a great deal about how well your pet's kidneys are functioning while stool samples can be used to check for the presence of parasites.
A nose to tail physical examination allows us to check for any physical or feel-able issues. We will look at everything from your pet's ears, eyes and mouth to his joints and paw pads. We will assess his coat quality and check for signs of skin disorders. We will also palpate his abdomen to check that his organs all feel normal sized and in the right place.
In order to understand what is happening inside your pet's body and how well his organs and body systems are working, we need to use blood tests. These include a full blood count, blood chemistry profile and heartworm testing too. Blood tests can be used to identify all manner of diseases and health problems from diabetes and heart disease to liver disorder and parasite infestations.
In addition to the above, we also have an in-depth discussion with you about your pet's day to day life. This will include us asking questions about his lifestyle, what he eats, how much he sleeps and what exercise he does. This will help us to track his well-being and is an ideal time for you to ask any questions you may have about his care, or for us to make any recommendations if there is anything that we think could be changed to improve his health.
Unfortunately, there are some infectious diseases that cannot be prevented by having a healthy lifestyle or the right diet. Instead, your pet is reliant on your providing adequate protection in the form of specially-designed treatments, medications, and vaccinations.
It is always better to prevent your pet from becoming sick than trying to treat disease once it has taken hold. It is less expensive, less time-consuming and less debilitating and painful for your pet. Fortunately, it is now easier than ever to protect your pet from the various infectious diseases that pose a threat to his health and potentially his life. This can be done using a combination of regularly scheduled vaccinations and regularly administered medications and topical treatments.
Our experienced veterinarians will be able to tell you exactly what infectious diseases your pet is at risk of, and which preventatives are needed to keep him safe. Preventative schedules are created individually for each pet and should be followed precisely to offer your pet the fullest protection.