Mar 03 2015

An Inside Look at Your Dog’s Annual Check-up

An Inside Look at Your Dog’s Annual Check-up

Did you receive a reminder in the mail for your dog’s annual check-up?  Are you wondering what to expect when you arrive at Appalachian Animal Hospital?  Today, we are going to give you an inside look into what happens during your dog’s visit at our clinic.

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Meet Sydney!  She is here for her annual examination, heartworm and fecal tests and vaccinations.  At Appalachian Animal Hospital, we refer to this as a “Canine Annual”.  After checking in at the front desk, Sydney and her owner will wait in the designated dog section of the waiting area.  We have a separate area for cats also, to try to limit stress on our visiting kitties.  *Check back later in the year for “An Inside Look at You Cat’s Annual Check-up”.

Once an examination room becomes available, the veterinary assistant or technician will invite Sydney and her owner back to the room.  On the way, they will stop at the scale to check Sydney’s weight.  Monitoring a yearly weight can be an important indicator of overall health.  Gaining too much weight can significantly affect Sydney’s long-term health and put her at higher risk for developing arthritis, back pain or other health conditions.  It can also shorten her life-expectancy!  Weight loss may be difficult to recognize at home, where we do not typically weigh our dogs on a regular basis.  Subtle changes may be hard to notice when you are looking at your dog every day.

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Inside the examination room, we will ask lots of questions to get a full history of Sydney’s progress over the past year.  If you have any specific questions, please bring them with you and we will be happy to discuss all of your concerns during this visit!  We will also check her temperature to make sure she does not have a fever, which may lead us to postpone her vaccinations.

Next, Sydney will head to the treatment area (also referred to as “the back”) for her annual tests.  The heartworm test takes only 1 drop of blood, drawn with a very small needle.  This test takes 10 minutes and checks for the presence of heartworms.  Even though Sydney has been on heartworm prevention throughout the entire year, this test is important to make sure that it is working properly.

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For the fecal floatation test, we take a small stool sample from the patient and spin it down in the centrifuge for 10 minutes.  Then, we read the sample on a slide under the microscope, looking for any parasite eggs.  You can help us by bringing a fresh fecal sample with you on the day of your pet’s visit.  Both tests are included with the “Canine Annual” visit!  *Check back later in the year for more detailed information about both tests and what you can do to make sure they are negative for your pet.


After the test samples have been collected, Sydney will return to the examination room with her owner and the doctor will come in to perform a complete physical examination.  Typically, this starts at the head of the patient and works its way back.  The doctor will check her eyes, ears and teeth.  We can often find the early signs of dental disease by looking all the way in the back of the mouth at the molars, which may be difficult for owners to notice at home.  Next, the doctor will feel for the size and shape of the lymph nodes and listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope.  If there are any early indications of heart disease, the only symptom may be a quiet heart murmur, which may be detected on an annual examination.  As we move further down the patient, abdominal palpation is the next step.  This involves feeling for any enlarged organs, masses or painful places in the belly.  We will check the skin for any signs of parasites (like fleas or mites), redness, hair-loss or irritation.  If the patient is having any lameness or signs of discomfort, an orthopedic examination will be performed to evaluate for indications of injury or arthritis.

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If the examination does not reveal any serious conditions, Sydney will receive her vaccinations next.  Typically, the minimum recommended vaccines are the Canine Distemper/Parvo vaccine and Rabies vaccine (as required by the law).  *Check back later in the year for a detailed breakdown of the vaccinations that we offer, how often they are given and which ones are appropriate for your pet.

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Good news: Sydney’s tests both came back negative!  We will refill her Sentinel for the year, which will prevent heartworms, fleas and all 3 of the most common gastro-intestinal parasites (roundworms, hookworms and whipworms).  She gets a clean bill of health, a treat and a bandana on the way out.  She will swing by the check-out desk to pick-up her Rabies tag and vaccine certificate and make any recommended follow-up appointments, if needed.  Sydney will need to come back again next year to do it all over again.  We hope she will be as excited to see us as we will be to see her!


jhummitzsch | Oliver's Blog

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