The Annual Pet Exam and Alternative Pet Health

The annual pet exam provides an opportunity to use alternative pet medicine, including home methods to give your pet a physical, the in-depth holistic physical and the physical for older pets.


| November/December 1988



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The easy part of a routine exam is the trip from the tip of the tail to the point of the nose (or vice versa) over the pet's body.


ILLUSTRATION: ROBBIE MARANTZ

The annual pet exam can be an in-office physical or a chance to use alternative pet medicine, including home methods, in-depth holistic physicals and information on physicals for older pets. 

The Annual Pet Exam and Alternative Pet Health

ON ONE LEVEL, CONDUCTING AN Annual physical is the easiest of all veterinary procedures. Really getting it right, though, may be one of the most difficult tasks facing the professional animal health expert.

The "Routine" Pet Physical

The easy part of a routine exam is the trip from the tip of the tail to the point of the nose (or vice versa) over the pet's body. In its shortest form, that's all an animal physical involves. A practiced eye, with the help of trained hands and a sensitive nose, can quickly move over a critter's body from one end to the other and spot any glaring abnormalities. All one needs is a good idea of what "normal" looks, smells and feels like. Piece of cake. You don't need years of training to give such an exam, so why pay good money to have a vet do it? Instead, take the time to learn how to do it yourself.

Once you know what normal is, you can spot anything abnormal that needs fixing. For example, how do healthy teeth look? Well, they should be a glistening white, there should be no areas coated with brownish or greyish calculus, and the gums should be a uniform pink with no dark red inflamed areas. When you check your pet's teeth, learn how to peel the upper and lower lip away from the teeth so you can see the molars that lie far to the rear of the mouth. Also learn how to open your pet's mouth so you can see the inside surfaces of all the teeth, including those way in the back.

While you're looking, be sure to note any abnormal odors. What do a normal skin and hair coat look like? A critter in good health will have a certain bloom to its fur. There will, of course, be no patchy areas where hair has fallen out, and the coat will have a rather pleasant smell.

Fleas are easy to spot as they scurry to cover, and you'll soon learn to recognize the little, dark "flea dirt" leavings that give the buggers away. Also, while you're looking at the coat, run your fingers over the animal's entire body. Once you've done this a few times, you'll be able to tell the normal lumps and bumps from any that may indicate early signs of disease. You can also do a fair job of checking your pet's ears, even though you don't own an oto scope. Just by looking closely, you'll be able to examine most of the outer ear. And you can get a partial "look" into the inner ear by wiping the canal with a large hunk of cotton and seeing what appears. (It should normally come out clean and odorless.)





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