A well check or wellness examination is a periodic medical tests of the pets to assess their overall health. A wellness examination may also be called a 'check-up' or a 'physical examination'. The necessity of a well check is to ensure that your dog remains healthy throughout its life. A well check may also include regular shots for rabies, flu etc.
"The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends for dogs and cats to have check-ups annually, at least."
How often to visit Vets?
The time and duration for well checks or periodical visits may differ according to the age of the dog.
In general, you should take your pup to your vet every 3 to 4 weeks for necessary vaccinations and to check if it’s developing any complications or other physical infirmities. The regular check may include, shots for rabies and distemper-parvo. Your pup might need shots if it’s displaying symptoms of kennel cough, influenza or Lyme disease.
Adult dogs range from the age between 1 to 7 years (depending on breed). These dogs require annual wellness check, including a heart worm test and other tests your vet recommends based on the results of the check.
A booster shots for rabies and distemper-parvo can be essential, typically every 3 years (note that there are state laws which mandate the frequency of rabies shots—your vet will tell you when you need to bring your dog in for his rabies shots).
Older dogs range from the age between 7 to 10 years. These dogs require wellness check every 6 months or bi-annually. Alike humans, older dogs are prone to developing certain diseases and complications as they get older, including arthritis, gum disease, diabetes, vision problems and blindness, kidney disease, cancer, and dementia.
What to expect in Wellness Check?
To better assess the need for well check, you vet will inquire about your dog’s diet, exercise, thirst, breathing, behavior, habits, elimination patterns (i.e., bowel movements and urination), lifestyle, and general health.
When you schedule a well check, your vet might ask for urine or stool sample too. It’s mandatory that you keep records of your dog’s previous tests, check-up, illness and medical history.
The thorough physical examination includes;
- Alertness and appearance: Does your dog appear bright, alert and responsive?
- Evaluation of gait: Is there any stiffness, lameness, swelling or asymmetry?
- Skin and hair coat: Check for inflammation on skin or hair loss and hair quality.
- Body Condition Score (BCS): On a scale of 1-9, a number is assigned to indicate if your dog is underweight, overweight or ideal weight. A score of 5 indicates an ideal body weight.
- Overall Measurement: The overall measurement may include assessing the body weight, body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and capillary refill time.
- Examination of face and mouth: This includes overall tests of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and throat etc.
- Palpation of lymph nodes: Are any enlarged or painful?
- Auscultation: Are there unusual breath sounds, a heart murmur, or a heart rhythm abnormality? Auscultation is performed on both sides of the chest.
- Palpation of the abdomen: Are there areas of discomfort or palpable abnormalities?
- Rectal examination: Are there any growths present within or around the rectum? Is the prostate gland enlarged or painful? Is the stool normal?
Check Pet Medical Services to learn more about pet health and well checks.