What is a Wellness Exam?

A wellness exam is performed to assess and optimize your pet’s health. It is important that this exam is performed when your pet is apparently healthy, and not when they are showing signs of illness, in order to get a true sense of their day-to-day condition.Dog Years

Wellness exams are performed every two weeks for young puppies and kittens while they are receiving all of their initial vaccine boosters. Young adult and middle-aged animals are examined once per year. Geriatric animals may be examined two or three times per year depending on their general health. Your veterinarian can recommend how often your dog should have a wellness examination, based on its specific breed, health status and lifestyle.

It is a common misconception that one calendar year equates to seven years in a dogs life.

During a wellness exam your veterinarian will ask you about your pet’s diet and appetite, thirst, energy level and lifestyle, bladder and bowel habits, behavior, and general health. A physical examination will be performed to assess outward health. Vaccinations will be updated. A heartworm test and an intestinal parasite test will be performed. Based on your pet’s history and the physical exam findings your veterinarian will make recommendations regarding nutrition, weight management, dental health, parasite control (heartworm prevention, flea/tick prevention), and screening wellness blood work, and will address any concerns you may have about your pet’s health.

Annual exam

A thorough wellness exam involves both an external evaluation of your pet’s health (via the physical examination) and an internal evaluation of your pet’s health (via screening blood work). Animals have a strong survival instinct and are notorious for hiding signs of illness. Unfortunately, this means that the early stages of disease often go unnoticed until a health condition has become advanced. Thorough wellness exams increase the chance that a condition will be detected before a pet shows signs of illness, when steps can be taken to manage or correct the problem before irreversible damage occurs. Wellness examinations and testing are particularly important in the geriatric pet, since there is a greater chance that underlying disease may be present.  This is the reason why semi-annual examinations are recommended for senior pets.

Prepare for your pet’s wellness exam ahead of time to get the most out of your visit!

  • Diet History: Write down the brand, type, and amount of food your pet eats. Ask family members what treats and table scraps they are feeding.
  • Supplements and Medications: Write down the names of any medication, supplements, heart worm prevention, and flea/tick prevention that you are using.
  • Medical Concerns: Write down any questions or concerns you or your family members have about your pet so you do not forget them during the visit.
Dr. Melissa Bisesi
This client information sheet is based on material written by: Cheryl Yuill, DVM, MSc, CVH

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