What to Expect at Your Pet's Nose-to-Tail Exam

Because your pet ages six to 10 years for every year a human ages, he or she should receive regular examinations from a veterinarian in order to maintain optimal health. Banfield recommends that pets have twice-yearly comprehensive exams, which are included in all our Optimum Wellness Plans®.

When you bring your pet in for the twice-yearly comprehensive exam, he or she will receive a nose-to-tail checkup. This entails an examination of all your pet’s major body systems to help ensure that they are working normally. Because your pet cannot tell you what is wrong, your veterinarian relies on regular examinations, as well as your observations as the pet’s owner, to determine his or her overall health.

At 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. Your Banfield veterinarian will begin the physical part of the examination by checking your cat or dog’s skin and coat. This is important because the skin and coat are indicators of your pet’s overall health. When examining your pet’s eyes, your veterinarian will check for discharge, redness, irregular or abnormal response to light and examine the optic nerve in the back of the eye. He or she will 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. Your veterinarian will examine your pet’s nose 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 or swelling. This helps to detect any signs of periodontal disease, since dental health is an important contributor to a healthy pet.

Next, 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. Your veterinarian will use a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s heart and lungs to check for heart murmurs and abnormal lung sounds. If your pet 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.

For more specific information about how a comprehensive exam is important for your pet’s health or to schedule a comprehensive exam, contact your local Banfield Pet Hospital.