What It’s Like to Get a Vet Exam

So, there you find yourself sitting in the waiting room of the Veterinary clinic amongst many other clients and patients.  It’s time for Fido’s ANNUAL PHYSICAL EXAM.  You may find yourself feeling a little anxious about what to expect.

First of all RELAX! An Annual physical exam is VERY important part to your pet’s health. It helps to keep Fido happier and healthier. It will also help him live longer by allowing the Veterinarian to single out and address minor issues BEFORE they become monumental and/or life threatening.

Ok, so your turn has come. The Doctor steps out into the waiting room and calls Fido’s name. First things first, if Fido hasn’t already been weighed by the front staff he will be weighed now and it will be recorded in his chart.

As you and Fido get up to enter the exam room the Veterinarian begins her examination by taking an overall visual look at Fido:

  • She will note Fido’s body condition (overweight, underweight, just right?)
  • She watches the way Fido walks into the room.  Any limping or obvious discomfort when weight bearing? Does he seem sturdy on his feet?
  • She will take a general overall look at the eyes. Are they clear and bright?
  • Next the hair coat. Is it lustrous? Full? Dull? Patchy?
  • She will observe the general temperament of Fido. Does he appear happy and well? Or depressed, sullen, unwell? She will take into consideration that Fido may normally be a bit nervous, anxious, perhaps aggressive.  All of this information has been recorded on his file during previous examinations.
  • The Veterinarian will also observe YOU. Do you appear concerned or upset? Carefree and happy?

Once in the examination room the door is closed.  The doctor may begin by asking if you have any concerns about Fido. Does he seem *normal* to you or is his behavior off in any way at all?  Is he eating/drinking normally? Are his elimination habits normal to you?

She will then begin her hands-on examination (in no particular order). This will take approx. 15-20 minutes.

  • An overall feel of the body and hair coat/skin to check for lumps, bumps, dryness, hair loss, scabbing, flakiness, etc. If there are any concerns she might recommend skin scrapings for analysis to check for parasites or infection, biopsies/aspirations of lumps or she may even recommend that a particularly concerning lump be removed for analysis at a later scheduled date.
  • She will assess the paws, paw pads, condition of the nails.
  • She will feel the joints and may do a more comprehensive exam of any joint that may be of concern
  • She will then proceed to feel the abdomen area with her hands, pressing gently to feel the internal organs as well as to assess if there is any discomfort.
  • Next she will move on to feel the lymph nodes to check for any irregularities.
  • She will assess the eyes with an ophthalmoscope, the ears with an otoscope. She will check the teeth and gums and may or may not recommend a cleaning procedure that would be scheduled for another time. She will assess the color and hydration of the mouth. They should be healthy pink and moderately moist.
  • Next she will listen to the heart (heart rate and strength) and lungs (breathing) with a stethoscope. She will manually check the pulse rate with her fingers (inside of hind leg)
  • Finally she will take Fido’s temperature with a rectal thermometer

Remember the Veterinarian is there for the health and well-being of your pet. The only silly question is an UN-asked one. You should always feel free and comfortable to ask ANYTHING at all no matter how insignificant you may feel it is.

The Veterinarian may or may not recommend routine blood work, x-rays, ultrasound or other diagnostics depending on your pet’s age, history, and/or current findings.

So that’s it! Pretty simple. Assuming there were no concerns found you can take Fido home knowing he’s been given another clean bill of health. Congratulations!