What to Expect at Your Pet's Comprehensive Exam

Because your pet ages six to ten years for every one year that you age, he or she should receive regular examinations from a veterinarian in order to maintain optimal health. Banfield recommends that pets complete twice-yearly comprehensive exams, which are included in all our Optimum Wellness Plans®, to keep your canine and feline families together and healthy for as long as possible.

Why Does My Pet Need a Comprehensive Exam?

Because your pet can’t tell you when something feels wrong, your veterinarian will rely on regular comprehensive examinations, as well as your own observations as the pet’s owner, to determine the state of your pet’s overall health. These examinations are vital to the long-term wellbeing of your pets.

What Is a Comprehensive Exam?

When you bring your pet in for the twice-yearly comprehensive exam, he or she will receive a nose-to-tail checkup – but what exactly does that entail? The comprehensive exam includes an examination of all of your pet’s major body systems to help ensure that they are functioning as they should.

  • Weigh-In. Each visit, your pet will be weighed to determine whether he or she is at a normal weight and will require nutritional counseling or exercise recommendations based on their weight.
  • Skin and Eyes. Your Banfield veterinarian will check your cat or dog’s skin and coat, important as they are often great indicators of a pet’s overall health. When examining the eyes, your veterinarian will check for irregular or abnormal responses to light, discharge, or redness in your cat and dog, as well as examine the structures in the back of the eye. In aging pets, they will often look especially for signs of cataracts, which may cloud the vision of your pet’s eye lens, and could, if left untreated, lead to blindness.
  • Sound Check. Your veterinarian will also examine the ear flap, deep ear canals, and ear drums for any abnormal smells, redness, the presence of infection, parasites such as ear mites, growths or tumors.
  • Nose and Mouth. Your pet’s nose will also be examined by your veterinarian for any abnormal appearance or discharge, before examining the inside of your pet’s mouth to look at dental health and check for abnormal masses, smells, or swelling. This helps to detect any signs of periodontal disease, since dental health is an important contributor to a healthy pet. Regular brushings can greatly improve your pet’s dental health, and overall quality of life.
  • Full-Body Review. Your veterinarian will manipulate and feel your pet’s legs, joints, abdomen and anal sacs to check for any unusual reactions, such as the appearance of pain or abnormal lumps. If a stool sample is available your veterinarian will also perform tests to check for parasites.
  • Heart and Lungs. Using a stethoscope, your veterinarian will listen to your pet’s heart and lungs to check for heart murmurs and abnormal lung sounds. If your dog or cat is due for any routine vaccinations or laboratory work, your veterinarian will take care of these needs during your pet’s visit. For example, your veterinarian will test your dog yearly for heartworms. Older pets may also have blood tests to check their kidneys, liver, and other internal organs.

How an Optimum Wellness Plan® Can Help

An Optimum Wellness Plan® can be a great way to stay on top of your pet’s ongoing preventive care needs. With twice-yearly comprehensive physical exams, unlimited hospital visits, routinely recommended vaccines, and much more included for one monthly charge, an Optimum Wellness Plan® is an affordable pet health care solution designed to help keep your pet healthy.

Need More Information?

For more specific information about how a comprehensive exam is important for your pet’s health, or to schedule an exam yourself, contact your local veterinarian, or visit our Ask a Vet library to find the answer for any other questions you may have. For more information on keeping your pet healthy, visit our Pet Health library to address any concerns you may have, or learn more about preventing disorders before they start.