Wednesday, Nov. 14th 2018

Physical Examinations and Lab Testing — why they are important for your pet

The Importance of the Physical Exam:

 Some people may question why we require a complete physical examination before any vaccination or anesthetic procedure.    Despite appearances based on cheap vaccination clinics, we consider a vaccination to be a stress on our patient.  We are introducing a foreign substance designed to stimulate the immune system to create a large number of antibodies to protect against disease.  While this immunity is important to achieve, we recognize that creating it can be a challenge if the pet isn’t already healthy.  In fact, vaccinating a patient already fighting a disease process of some kind can actually make them sicker because we are stressing the immune system. 

A complete examination evaluates many things.  We listen to the heart and lungs to determine if there appears to be heart disease, pneumonia, or other impairment.  We palpate the internal organs to evaluate for any masses, stool buildup, or pain.  We look at the mouth for any tumors or dental disease, which alone can hugely stress the immune system. We look for lumps and bumps that need to be evaluated.  We check the skin for signs of parasites, irritation, or infection.  We check the eyes and ears for any signs of infection or other problems.  We evaluate the joints for signs of injury or pain. And of course, we take their temperature as a pet with a fever should never be vaccinated.  A good physical examination is a nose-to-tail evaluation that should be performed at least annually, and preferably every six months, in order to detect problems early before you pet begins to suffer from them.   Vaccination without a complete physical examination can actually potentially harm your pet.  Our pets can’t speak and tell us when something is wrong, so it is important to have a trained observer (your veterinarian) do a complete examination regularly.


Why do we need lab work?  My pet is healthy!

A study of 268,817 seemingly healthy cats and dogs revealed some startling statistics.  One in seven adult pets of any age had problems revealed by routine laboratory testing of their blood and urine.  One in five senior pets had problems (pets over 7 but still seemingly healthy).  TWO in five geriatric pets had health issues revealed by lab testing (pets over 7 with signs of weakness, pain, or other age-related issues).  Routine lab testing is recommended annually for all pets over seven, and twice annually for all “double-digit” pets 10 and up.  This lab work, usually including a blood draw and often collection of a urine specimen as well, contains numerous tests to evaluate multi-organ function.  We can evaluate how well the kidneys are filtering toxins, whether the liver is doing its job efficiently, if the pet is anemic or diabetic, if their thyroid is functioning correctly, and much more.  In many cases, we may detect abnormalities at an early stage when the problem can be controlled or sometimes even reversed by simply adding a supplement to their diet or a minor diet change.  In other cases, medications may be needed that will dramatically improve how your pet feels and how long they live.  At Whole Health Pet Center, we always do blood work prior to any anesthetic procedure to make sure the pet can handle processing of the drugs used to anesthetize them.  We also like to do routine blood work on all older pets.  Since our goal is to reach and maintain optimal health in your pets, we make use of all tools available to evaluate that health and find problems early. 

If your pet is 7 or older, be sure to ask if they are due for their blood work when they come in for their routine examinations.  It’s much better for them to have problems detected early when they can be easily managed, rather than waiting until they are very ill to draw the blood to see why they are sick. 

Physical examinations AND routine lab work are two ways Whole Health Pet Center helps to determine “Is your pet healthy, or just not sick yet?”  Thank you for allowing us to help maintain your pets’ health!


Due to new Missouri law regarding minimum wage, and our clinic’s desire to maintain staff salaries at the same level above required minimums, there will be a larger than normal increase in our prices in January 2019 in order to support a wage increase.  We hope our clients will recognize our attempts to keep our wonderful staff happy and support our efforts to do so.  We do our best to keep our prices reasonable, but the bills do have to be paid in order to stay open!

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Whole Health Pet Center
18011 E St. Rte 58
Raymore, MO 64083

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