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Annual Health Check

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As experienced veterinarians we firmly believe in the health and wellbeing of your pet and look forward to looking after them for many years to come. A vital part of maintaining your pet’s health is their annual vaccination. This visit not only keeps your pet protected from several diseases but includes a full health examination. The importance of this annual health check cannot be under-estimated; this consultation covers 12 key points.

  1. Weight check
  2. Nutrition and diet management
  3. Exercise
  4. Ears
  5. Eyes
  6. Dental health
  7. Heart and lung assessment
  8. Abdominal palpation
  9. Coat and skin
  10. Flea check and advice
  11. Worming
  12. Mobility

In addition this examination may include nail clipping, anal gland emptying, blood tests, and discussion of behaviour problems or any other concerns you may have about your pet.

Weight check – An annual weight check enables ongoing monitoring of your pets health. Comparing the current weight with previously recorded values allows early detection of some disease processes. An unexpected reduction in weight can indicate further investigation is needed to check for underlying disease e.g kidney disease, diabetes, hormonal problems and cancer. A progressive increase in weight can equally be unhealthy and obesity puts your pet at risk of heart disease, joint problems, skin and coat changes, decreased stamina and reduced quality of life.

Nutrition and diet – A chat about diet links with a number of other areas checked during the annual health examination. Dependent on the age of your pet diet may need to be adjusted to meet age requirements or modified to manage weight gain/loss.

Exercise – Your dog’s exercise routine is just as important as your own, there are many benefits to daily exercise including weight management, agility and improvement of common behavioural problems. Discussion at the health check about exercise is important as there are health issues that can be aggravated by exercise, and as your pet ages your exercise routine may need to be adjusted to accommodate for these changes.

Ears – A visual inspection of both ears is an essential part of the health check, the ears should be clean and dry with no signs of crusting or wax/discharge. Inflammation or discharge may indicate infection, ear mites or a foreign body, e.g. a grass seed in the ear canal. If abnormal the examination may include a deeper look at the ear, taking a sample to assess the bacteria present and demonstration of ear cleaning/treatment drops.

Eyes – A close inspection of the visible eye structures and lids is a part of the annual examination. If indicated this examination can be extended to include a thorough exam of the interior of the eye with special instruments. Early cataract formation may be detected, any haziness on the surface of the cornea can be detected and inflammation of the surrounding eye structures can be assessed.

Dental health – Oral hygiene is one of the most overlooked aspects of pet health care. The mouth can harbour infected gums, loose teeth, objects stuck between teeth, tumours and all sorts of other surprises. Often your pet will show no signs of discomfort even when a serious oral abnormality is present. Older pets especially may have oral hygiene difficulties and if dental and oral treatment was in place their overall health and wellbeing would be vastly improved.

Heart and lung assessment – Examination of the chest with a stethoscope enables the heart and lungs to be heard. Heart disease is a common problem in both cats and dogs. Often changes in heart rhythm and the detection of a murmur are noted before any signs of a problem are noticeable in your pet. Any abnormality can be investigated further or recorded and rechecked regularly in the future.

Abdominal palpation – A careful evaluation of the abdomen is an essential part of the annual health check. Bladder stones, pregnancy, change in organ shape/size and tumours can all be detected with a thorough abdominal palpation. These may be present in apparently healthy pets, but early detection can be vital. So in addition to feeling what's on the outside of the pet, what's inside is just as important.

Coat and skin – Skin and coat are excellent indicators of your pet's health status. Their coat should be shiny, not brittle and coarse, and the skin should be clean and not greasy or flaky. Changes in coat and skin can indicate flea infestation, skin allergies or be part of another disease process e.g. hyperadrenocorticism (cushings).

Flea check and advice – Fleas can cause severe irritation resulting in hair loss and skin infection. In addition tapeworm can be transmitted by the ingestion of infected fleas. At the annual health check your monthly flea programme can be discussed and tailored to your requirements, as there are a number of different products available that may be suitable.

Worming – Cats and dogs are prone to picking up parasites such as worms but more often than not they do not show any outward symptoms. Unfortunately this does not mean that the worms don’t do any harm. Different types of worm can cause issues for both your pet’s health and your family. At the annual health check the frequency of worming can be discussed and a plan for the year arranged to ensure worming is not overlooked.

Mobility – As your pet ages changes can occur in the feet and legs. Arthritis is a common ailment in our older patients, assessment of your pets movement and comfort is a key component of early diagnosis and management of these changes, particularly in older cats that frequently hide their discomfort. In addition older animals frequently suffer due to overgrown claws and these can be trimmed during this health check.

©2017 Viking Vets

P 0117 9505888  E thevets@vikingvets.com

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