Annual Pet Examinations: Are they necessary?

Many pet owners underestimate the importance of an annual physical exam because their pet seems healthy.  Annual exams provide an opportunity to prevent diseases, detect them early, or even avoid them altogether. Many diseases and ailments such as heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes are not often evident in early stages. Your veterinarian can conduct a comprehensive exam that includes a lab analysis, heart check, and dental exam to ensure top physical shape and optimum health for years to come.

Dogs age more rapidly than humans.  In one calendar year the average dog can physically age 5-10 years in comparison. Medically, many changes can take place in that time.  Once a dog reaches 8 years old it is considered to be geriatric. At this time, it is important to consider performing a “Senior Wellness Profile” which provides a more thorough work-up on major body systems such as the heart, liver, and kidneys as problems such as organ failure or cancer may develop and progress quickly if not detected. Many problems owners commonly assume are “old age changes” may actually be signs of underlying disease and can be very treatable.

What does a physical exam include?  Your veterinarian has special training and experience in detecting subtle illness in pets and will conduct a very thorough “nose to toes” exam.  Listening to the heart your vet can detect murmurs. Increased lung sounds may indicate early illness. Abdominal palpation may reveal pain in certain areas or abnormal size and shape of various organs or even tumors. Evaluating joint mobility may reveal arthritis. Checking out the eyes can detect early signs of cataracts or other ocular problems. Ears may be in need of cleaning or medication. Dental disease may be detected as well as signs of allergies or skin problems during a routine exam. It’s easier for someone who doesn’t see your pet every day to detect lumps and bumps that you may not have noticed. Comparing annual weights as well can determine if your dog is heading down the path to obesity or is slowly losing weight due to a latent illness or disease.

Annual examinations also give you an opportunity to talk to your Vet about training, hygiene, nutrition, and any other questions you may have. A few simple hygiene tasks added to your daily schedule can be very beneficial to your pet’s quality of life and feeding a proper diet rates as one of the most important considerations in health maintenance. Obedience training is important for your pet's health because behavioral problems account for more deaths in dogs than any known disease. In fact, a well-trained and obedient dog is more likely to live to a ripe old age than a poorly trained one.  Contact your local DogSmith at for information on training your dog.

© 2010 B Jordan CVT, CDT The DogSmith To contact Bethany via email

You can reach Niki Tudge the DogSmith Founder via email at or to learn more about joining the DogSmith visit