The importance of annual wellness exams

By October 1, 2015Uncategorized

The veterinarians in Markham are often presented with pets that have a disease that is so entrenched there is little they can do. This is a situation that is easily remedied by giving your pet a yearly wellness check, also known as a preventive exam.

In this wellness check they perform a thorough physical exam. They will note your pet’s weight and temperature, and then go through a checklist of physical parameters. We examine areas that pet owners do not routinely look at. Examples include an oral exam, peripheral lymph node exam, abdominal palpation, and thorax auscultation(assessing heart and lungs with a stethoscope).

After the physical exam the veterinarians in Markham prefer to perform a blood panel. The type of blood panel they submit depends on age and species, but in general pets under 7 years get a less thorough blood panel as compared to pets over 7 years of age. They also like to check for internal parasites (worms) on all pets, and check a urine sample and blood pressure on the pets over 7.

This wellness exam is also a good time to update your pet on vaccines and to go over nutritional information along with flea and heartworm control.

Because it is rare for a specific set of disease symptoms to occur in only one disease there are many parameters the veterinarians in Markham have to take into consideration when making a diagnosis during a wellness exam or any time your pet is ill.

Our Diagnostic Process

It is extremely rare for a specific set of symptoms to occur in only one disease, a term called pathognomic. Since many diseases exhibit similar symptoms,  the veterinarians in Markham utilize a methodical and thorough scientific approach to help narrow down the possibilities.

1. Signalment

Since most diseases have a prevalence towards a specific group, your pets age, breed, and sex can be an important aid in making a diagnosis, . The signalment helps us narrow down possibilities, and gives us a potential list of likely problems. Some examples:

  • Male cats get more urinary blockage problems than females.
  • Thyroid problems tend to occur in cats that are over 8 years of age.
  • Golden retrievers often develop ear infections.

2. History

An observant owner can be extremely helpful (and of course, the opposite holds true also) in describing the symptoms that a pet is exhibiting and the circumstances surrounding the problem. This information can be crucial in helping the veterinarians in Markham reach a diagnosis of certain diseases. You may notice the checklist of questions one of our staff asks you concerning your pets appetite, activity level, etc. This is valuable information to us.

Our exam forms help us organize the information we obtain during history taking and ensure that we do not miss information that is important in making the diagnosis. Our doctors read this information and then they refine it with more specific questions when they talk with you.

3. Physical Exam

A thorough head to tail (if they have one) exam is one of the most beneficial means of diagnosing a disease. When used in combination with signalment and history, a significant number of diseases can be tentatively diagnosed. Sometimes, when it is impossible or impractical to perform laboratory tests, the signalment, history, and physical exam are the only means available to come to an accurate diagnosis.

It is at this point in the process that our doctors make a list of most likely causes of the problem. This list is called the tentative diagnosis. Diagnostic tests are then recommended based on this list, which are used to rule in or rule out certain diseases. For example, if your cat has diabetes mellitus as a tentative diagnosis, yet has a normal blood sugar and no sugar in the urine, then this disease is put at the bottom of this list or maybe even completely ruled out.

4. Diagnostic Tests

With the increasing body of knowledge concerning traditional tests (blood samples and x-rays), and the advent of new and powerful diagnostic tests (ultrasound, MRI scans, antibody assays), diseases are being diagnosed with an ever increasing accuracy. As crucial as these tests are to an accurate diagnosis, it is extremely rare to make a diagnosis based solely on these test results without utilizing signalment, history, and physical exam findings.

For sick pets we like to at least perform what is termed a “minimum data base”. This consists of a blood panel, urinalysis, and fecal exam. Other tests might be indicated based on signalment, history, and physical exam.

The veterinarians in Markham then interpret these test results in conjunction with the full picture of what is going on with your pet.

5. Response to treatment

Whether a pet gets better or not from a specific treatment may also help confirm or omit a diagnosis. Some diseases respond quite well to therapy, so a lack of response in a given time (this varies for each disease and how long your pet has been sick) is valuable information.

If you found this blog informative, please share it with your friends on Facebook.

Sincerely,

Dr. Ernst Marsig, veterinarian in Markham

Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Markham for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.

Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of  Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).

Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.

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