Servicing Mt. Prospect, Arlington Heights, Des Plaines & The NW Suburbs
Helping Pets Live Their Healthiest Lives
Routine wellness exams and parasite testing are an important part of every pet’s healthcare regimen. Annual pet exams help us determine a baseline of health, and build a comprehensive medical history so that we are better equipped to notice subtle changes and abnormalities.
At A Central North Animal Hospital Inc., we recommend yearly wellness exams, along with vaccines, 4Dx heartworm testing, and fecal testing.
Dog and Cat Wellness Exams
Routine pet exams generally begin with a nose-to-tail physical. Your veterinarian will check your pet’s weight, heart rate, eyes, ears, teeth, joints, coat, etc. for any changes, and answer any questions you may have regarding behaviors you have observed at home. Your pet’s wellness visit is the best time to bring your concerns to the forefront so we can address them and find a solution. We also need to check your pet’s blood and stool for signs of heartworm and intestinal parasites. We recommend testing your pet’s blood and stool every 6 months to ensure that they are parasite-free.
Our Pet Wellness Care Services
The range of wellness services we provide includes the following:
--Electrocardiogram (primarily for senior pets)
--Ultrasound (primarily for senior pets)
Why Senior Wellness Checkups Are Important
The senior pet wellness screen is an excellent tool for early detection of changes in your dog's or cat's health so that treatment, including appropriate lifestyle modifications, can begin immediately. Regular wellness screens allow your veterinarian to compare current test results with past results to check for changes that may need further investigation.
A huge benefit of early detection of disease is that treatments are often more effective and less costly, and the quality of your pet's life can be maintained. I know from experience that committed guardians would rather keep their pets in good health than try to return them to health after disease strikes.
The Essentials of a Senior Wellness Checkup
Senior wellness testing involves several elements, including but not limited to:
Physical examination- A physical exam is a critically important part of the senior wellness checkup. All body systems are assessed to check for any abnormalities. It is during the physical exam that I check a pet's weight, muscle tone, and joint range of motion, measuring the animal's current status against past exam findings as well as norms for the breed, age, and gender.
Blood chemistry tests- Blood chemistries are blood serum tests that evaluate your pet's organ function, electrolyte status, hormone levels, and more. Blood chemistry results are helpful in diagnosing diseases such as diabetes, and liver and kidney failure.
Complete blood count (CBC). The CBC gives information on hydration status, anemia, infection, the blood's clotting ability, and the ability of your pet's immune system to respond. It provides a detailed look at the blood itself and reveals problems such as anemia or the presence of infection.
Urinalysis-The urinalysis is used to assess the overall health of your pet's urinary tract, including the kidneys and bladder, and to check for other health indicators such as glucose regulation and liver function.
A complete urinalysis measures the function of the nephrons in the kidneys and gives information about your pet's metabolic and fluid status. The test is also used to evaluate substances in the urine that might indicate an underlying disease process.
Thyroid screen-The thyroid screen helps diagnose thyroid disease, which is an especially common ailment in older cats and dogs. T4 (thyroxine) is a thyroid hormone.
Decreased levels of thyroid hormones often signal hypothyroidism in dogs, while high levels indicate hyperthyroidism, commonly diagnosed in cats. Performing a complete thyroid panel is important, as measuring just a T4 may not reveal an underlying thyroid problem.
Retinal exam- This eye test is used to check for evidence of problems with the retinas of the eyes such as bleeding, degeneration, inflammation, or detachment.
Blood pressure measurement- This test checks your pet for hypertension (high blood pressure). Like humans, pets with hypertension are at significantly increased risk for kidney problems, heart disease, blindness, and other complications.
X-rays- Radiographs (x-rays) can also be helpful as part of a senior pet wellness checkup. Chest x-rays, for example, can reveal certain things about the heart and lungs. Abdominal x-rays can be used to assess the liver and kidneys.
Since many vet clinics don't have digital x-ray equipment and their x-rays still involve radiation, I don't typically order them unless the results of other tests indicate a potential problem requiring further investigation.
Diet and Supplement Review
During senior wellness exams, we also conduct a diet and supplement review for each pet. Good nutrition is the foundation of good health, so I want to know what type of diet your pet is eating and whether there have been any changes in appetite or signs of food sensitivities.
Contrary to what many pet guardians and veterinarians believe, studies show pets need more protein as they age to maintain lean muscle mass and good organ and immune function. We recommend that healthy pets of all ages eat a balanced, fresh, and whole food diet, preferably raw, made with organic, non-GMO ingredients. Some senior pets may need a diet that restricts phosphorus or sodium intake.
During senior wellness checkups, we review each patient's supplement protocol and make suggestions based on the most recent diagnostic test results, my physical exam, and any concerns the pet's guardian brings up.
More Pet Wellness Information