Dog's Annual Veterinary Check-up | What to Expect
PetWave | Dog & Cat Information

What to Expect From Your Dog's Annual Veterinary Visit



Veterinarians are trained to carry out a standard annual examination of dogs. The emphasis of the check-up may vary somewhat if the dog is experiencing ongoing medical problems, but the scope is standard.

The Basics

History taking is done by the technician or veterinarian to report on how the pet has been doing at home since the last assessment.

A pet’s temperament can have a significant influence on how thorough the examination may be without sedation. For example, some pets may strongly resent their mouth being opened, or require a muzzle to be safely handled without sedation. If the owner declines a sedated examination, certain areas may need to be assessed while the pet is sedated at another time, or even anesthetized—as is the case with some feral cats.

There is no single profession-wide standardized checklist used to perform an evaluation of pets, but each veterinarian develops their own favored order of systems evaluation, and has their own tips and tricks for assessing each.

For example, some veterinarians prefer to start at the front and work back while others have a favored order, carried out system by system. Whatever a veterinarian selects in his/her own practice, the physical examination covers the following:

General Aspects

  • Weight and body condition
  • TPR (temperature, pulse, respiration)—Temperature may not be taken in all patients
  • Attitude
  • Gait (way of moving)
  • Brightness of eyes
  • Activity level, reflexes
  • Haircoat, nails, skin and anal glands—including external parasite check, hydration
  • Ears and eyes- including ophthalmoscope exam of eyes, scope visualization of ear canals

System Aspects

  • Circulatory system—pulse, gum color, stethoscope check of heart sounds
  • Respiratory system—breathing sounds via stethoscope exam, respiratory pattern, discharges from nose, air flow of nostrils, tracheal rub
  • Digestive system—from the oral cavity to the exit point, including dental, guts and general abdomen, liver, and rectum
  • Urinary and reproductive system—check exit points for the systems, palpate the uterus (if present), testes (if present), bladder, kidneys, and the prostate gland of mature male dogs
  • Bones, joints, muscles—check joint mobility/position, swelling, pain, and muscle loss
  • Glands—check lymph nodes, thyroid lobes, spleen

Many practices offer the client a “report card” or a take home report detailing the results of the professional exam. This is a great way for you to learn about your pet’s particular quirks and problems. Often, the checklist allows the practitioner to simply place a checkmark where no abnormal findings are identified, and place comments where problems are noted. Other practices provide a brief written summary following the examination which may be included at the bottom of the invoice, along with any reminders for follow up or recommendations for treatment and testing.

You may request a summary of the examination findings for your home medical records, and if you have any questions about any part of the examination, the time at the end of the appointment is ideal for this process. Otherwise, if you find yourself left with questions when you get home, contact your veterinary practice. Your veterinarian or a licensed technician should be able to address those hanging questions.

Source: PetWave


Muzzle The Myths About Dogs And Cats

Regardless if you own a dog or cat, you still have probably heard a myth...

Spcial Needs of a Senior Dog

Caring for Older Dogs Guide: All the info you need to properly care for your...

What To Do If You Lost Your Dog

Lost Dog Guide: To increase the chances of quickly being reunited with your dog in...

Age Matter When it Comes to a Dog's Dietary Needs - Senior vs. Puppy Blends

When comparing a senior to a puppy formula of dog food the answer is clear;...

Yikes - My Dog Has A Lump!

Owners should pay attention to any lumps on their dogs, especially those that arise suddenly....


Dog Health Dog Health
Learn about the most common diseases affecting dogs
Puppy Training Getting a Puppy
A new puppy in the house can cause quite a whirlwind of excitement
Dog Breeds List of Dog Breeds
Comprehensive list of dog breeds with specific breed information

Find a Dog Breed?

With so many dog breeds to choose from, sometime it's easier to seach based on certain characterisitcs.

Caring for your Dog?

There is more to caring for your dog than just feeding it. Find out all you need to know to make sure your pet stays healthy.

Training your Dog?

A dog's behavior plays a key role in making a great pet. Training your dog makes a happier dog, and you will be happier too.

Ask a vet?

Have a question?
Ask a Vet Online NowSM

Ask a Vet

About Us | Review Board | Badges | Tell a Friend | Bookmark this Page | Submit Feedback | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
Dog Breeds | Cat Breeds | Dog Health | Cat Health | Dog Training | Cat Training | Dog Care | Cat Care | Dog Adoption | Cat Food & Diet

Advertise on - A Pet360 Media Network Partner

Become a Fan of on Facebook Become a Fan on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter Email Friend about Tell your friends about PetWave

© 2015 PetWave Corporation. All rights reserved
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a veterinarian. PetWave disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
For more information view our Terms of Service.