Preventative & Wellness Exams

Our pet preventative and wellness exams are designed to provide comprehensive care beyond treating illness. We’re dedicated to nurturing your pet’s well-being and ensuring their happiness.

a person holding a dog

Preventative and Wellness
Exams: Nurturing Health,
Ensuring Happiness

Regular wellness physical exams allow our veterinarians to evaluate your pet’s general health and become aware of any health problems before they become serious illnesses. Since your pet cannot vocalize his feelings, you must rely on regular physical examinations by a veterinarian and your at-home observations to assess your pet’s health.

At Gulfshore Animal Hospital, routine blood testing, urinalysis (urine testing), and other blood pressure tests are recommended for all pets in their “senior years.” Your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic blood testing, a urinalysis, and even x-rays for younger pets to establish baseline information, which can detect disease before your pet becomes ill or can be used for comparison as your pet ages.

How often does my pet need a wellness exam?

Every year for a dog or cat is equivalent to five to seven human years, so it is essential that your pet receives a wellness exam at least every year and more often when they enter their senior years. Many aspects of your pet’s health can change quickly, so make sure your pet does not miss even one exam!

Like people, pets need to visit the veterinarian more often as they age to prevent and treat illnesses that come with age. The American Animal Hospital Association recommends that healthy dogs and cats visit the veterinarian once a year for a complete exam and laboratory testing. Healthy senior dogs and cats should receive a wellness exam and lab testing every six months. Depending on your pet’s age and health, your veterinarian will suggest an appropriate physical examination schedule to help keep your pet in tip-top shape.

What can I expect during my pet’s wellness examination?
Your veterinarian will need a complete history of your pet’s health, so don’t forget to mention any unusual behavior that you have noticed in your pet, including:

  • Any coughing or difficulty breathing
  • Loose stools, diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Excessive drinking or urinating
  • Excessive scratching and itchiness

Your veterinarian will also want to know about your pet’s daily behavior, including his diet, how much water he drinks, and his exercise routine. For example, your veterinarian may ask:

  • Does your pet have trouble getting up in the morning?
  • Does your pet show signs of weakness or imbalance?
  • Does your pet show an unwillingness to exercise?
  • Does your pet show signs of stress or aggravation?
  • Does your pet run a risk of exposure to fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites?

A thorough history will help your veterinarian develop an individualized treatment and preventative health care plan for your pet.

Vital Signs

Usually, at the beginning of the exam, your veterinarian or a veterinary technician will obtain your pet’s temperature, pulse, respiration (breathing) rate, and body weight. If your pet has lost weight since his last physical exam, they may be experiencing the early stages of metabolic disease, such as kidney disease or diabetes. If your pet has gained weight since his last exam, your veterinarian will work with you to develop an appropriate diet and exercise plan to return your pet to a healthier weight. Weight is an essential consideration in your pet’s health — an extra two or three pounds could mean the difference between your pet being fit and healthy or obese and at risk.


Your veterinarian may ask if your pet has been shaking their head or scratching at their ears and if you have noticed an odor coming from your pet’s ears. Your pet’s ear canals protect its inner ear but can also become a home for infectious bacteria, troublesome yeast, parasites, and other foreign objects. Your veterinarian will closely examine your pet’s ears to ensure they are healthy.


Eye examinations often reveal many health issues, including anemia, infections, glaucoma, cataracts, high blood pressure, jaundice, allergies, and eye injuries and ulcers. Careful observation of the inner structures and outward appearances of the eyes are all part of a proper eye examination.


Assuming your pet will allow it, your veterinarian will inspect your pet’s gums, teeth, tongue, and palate (roof of the mouth) for tartar buildup, dental abnormalities, fractures, loose teeth, tumors, infection, and other problems. For example, similar to people, a lack of red or pink color in your pet’s gums could signal anemia. Your veterinarian will discuss the importance of regular at-home and professional teeth cleaning to prevent periodontal disease, which can cause bad breath, a painful mouth, and tooth loss.

Heart and Lungs

Your veterinarian will use a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s heart and lungs for early signs of heart and lung disease.

Reproductive Organs

If your pet has not been spayed or neutered, your veterinarian may discuss the many health benefits of spaying/neutering beyond birth control. Your veterinarian will check your pet’s reproductive system for any swelling or abnormal discharge, as well as check for any breast lumps.


Did you know your pet’s skin is the largest organ of their body and a good gauge of their health? Hair loss and skin changes can indicate a more serious internal disease problem. Your veterinarian will check your pet’s skin and hair for fleas, ticks, other external parasites, signs of allergies, infection, warts, and tumors.

From Head to Toe

Your veterinarian will palpate (feel) your pet’s entire body for abnormalities, including enlarged organs, masses, or painful areas, to detect problems with the head, neck, chest, stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver, and other organs. Your veterinarian will also examine your pet’s legs and feet and the condition of your pet’s joints, muscles, lymph nodes, and tail, assuming your pet has one.

Your veterinarian may recommend additional testing to diagnose or verify a health problem if he finds any abnormalities during your pet’s thorough examination.


Vaccinations are one of the most essential preventive measures for your pet’s health. Dogs can be immunized against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, coronavirus, bordetella, rabies, Lyme disease, and canine influenza. Cats can be vaccinated against feline panleukopenia (distemper), rabies, rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, chlamydia, and feline leukemia.

How frequently you should vaccinate your pet against certain diseases depends on many factors, including where your pet lives or will live, so talk to your veterinarian to understand what is recommended for your pet’s unique environment and lifestyle.

Do not underestimate the importance of taking your pet to the veterinarian for regular wellness examinations. Someone (probably a veterinarian) once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” These regular examinations will help your pet live a longer and healthier life, so do your part to care for your furry friend!