A Head to Tail Exam; And the Doc Says I Check Out A-Okay!

stow kent animal hospital annie blog picture

Annie here and I wanted to tell you all about my annual exam, vaccines and heartworm check that I had last week with Dr. Vega at Portage Animal Clinic. When you have an exam by one of our doctors you may not truly notice all of the things they look at so I would like to tell you about my exam from beginning to end. My Dad took me into the clinic and they got my current weight and of course I got a lot of treats for sitting pretty on the scale. The assistants drew my blood for my heartworm check. Despite what many people think this was a very quick and pretty painless blood draw. It was also followed with a lot of cookies so I forgot all about it. Heartworm checks only take 24-48 hours to get back and therefore my family heard back and my test was negative. I have been taking my monthly Trifexis (flea, heartworm and intestinal parasite preventative) so we were happy to see a negative result.

Dr. Vega looked me over from head to tail. He said that I have grade 1.5/4 dental disease. The level of dental disease is determined by the amount of tartar and gingivitis present. He recommended that my family brush my teeth at home and continue to monitor one of my diseased teeth. They have been brushing my teeth daily for a week now and it is going pretty well. Hopefully the next time the doctor sees me I will have a sparkling smile!
He listened to my heart and lungs and they were clear of any abnormalities and my pulses were good. My ears, eyes, nose and throat all looked good too. He palpated my tummy which felt a little funny but Dr. Vega said that everything internally (liver, kidneys, intestines) felt good. All my lymph nodes were nice and small like we like them to be.
He did say that my body condition is a 6/9. A body condition score is a rating from one to nine where four or a five is ideal for dogs and a five being ideal for cats. It is a measure of how much body fat that you have. So I have a little bit of work to do there before swimsuit season! The Doctor recommended that I continue to watch my diet carefully and use veggies as fillers and treats. This is okay with me because I really like carrots, green beans and lima beans with all of my meals. My skin and coat is shiny and parasite free. He felt me in all kinds of places for any lumps or bumps and said that I look great; he did not feel anything abnormal.
My family had time to discuss any concerns with the doctor. They are concerned that I have had runny eyes and a runny nose intermittently and he recommend that I continue on Benadryl in case I have allergies. If this becomes a persistent problem the doctor said that my parents can call him and they can discuss other options.
I was also due for my annual vaccines. The core vaccines included the DHLPP (or 5 way vaccine), and my three year Rabies. They discussed my risk and exposure to things like kennel cough and Lyme disease and since I love dog parks and camping they decided that the Bordetella vaccine and the Lyme vaccine were also right for me. The vaccines were given with cheese and therefore I did not feel a thing.
Spending time working at the hospital, writing these blogs, I have heard many stories about important things that are discovered during an annual exam that the owners were not aware of. Things that have been found this year for appointments that were supposed to be just annual exams have been breast tumors, enlarged lymph nodes and heart murmurs. All of which are significant findings and made a huge difference in those pet’s lives. While the doctor is examining us and talking with you, you’ll notice that they look us over completely and sometimes in all kinds of odd places. The vaccines are an important component but the yearly exam is what is so important to have done. Remember that early detection of illnesses and diseases is key, just like in people. Even for healthy dogs and cats they should have this nose to tail exam yearly. Pets that are considered geriatric should have exams twice a year and consider routine bloodwork.
Sometimes cats are frequently forgotten and only come to the Veterinarian when they are showing signs of illness. I know a lot of cats and they are pretty tough…cats are great at masking and hiding illnesses and many of these illnesses may have been caught earlier if they would have had their routine checkup, so don’t forget our feline friends.
I hope that sharing my exam and findings with you will help demonstrate how important it is to be seen by your Veterinarian for these head to tail exams. We know how much your pet’s mean to you and we hope that you will give them the same great quality care by calling us and setting up your wellness exam today!

As for now I check out A-Okay,
Annie & Amanda Siciliano- Supervisor/Vet tech/Social Media Team

Stow Kent Animal Hospital



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