Why Wellness? | Keoki's Corner

Keoki's Corner

Why Wellness?

You see the doctor for routine exams, but does your pet? Regular wellness exams are an integral part of your pet’s preventive health care program. In the coming weeks we will be sharing information with you on wellness and preventative care subjects.

“Why wellness?” you may ask.  Wellness care can save, prolong, and improve our pets’ lives through disease prevention and early illness detection. The most important aspect of keeping your pet healthy is bringing them in for wellness exams. This is a thorough examination of your pet. Based on your pet’s age and risk assessment, these exams should be done at least once or twice a year. Because pets age more quickly than we do, doing exams more frequently gives us the opportunity to detect subtle changes in your pet’s condition and catch problems earlier, before they turn into more serious problems.

Bringing your pet in to the veterinarian can be stressful for some so it’s nice to know what to expect when you come in for appointments. One thing you can do to help reduce stress pets experience when they come to the veterinarian is to get them used to coming in. For dogs, this means stopping by the office. You can walk around the reception area with them, get them on the scale, and even take them into an exam room if there is one available. Our staff is always happy to give them treats and plenty of attention. For cats, a good thing to do is get them used to their carrier. You can do this by taking the carrier out and placing it in your home so they can have access to it. Feeding them in their carrier can help as well.

We will usually ask you to fast your pet prior to the exam, when a hungry pet comes into the office, they are more likely to accept treats from us, which in turn makes it more rewarding for them. Having them come in fasted also prepares them for any bloodwork that your pet may need. Every exam begins with getting your pet’s weight and temperature. The doctor will then perform a thorough physical exam to assess your pet’s condition.


  • Appearance – The doctor will look at the overall appearance of your pet including an assessment of their weight, skin, and
  • coat of your pet. They will look to see if the skin is in good condition, they will check for lumps and bumps and check for external parasites such as fleas and ticks. The doctor will also discuss your pet’s body condition and diet, including recommendation for helping your pet lose or gain weight if needed.
  • Eyes – The doctor will look at the area around the eyes, eyelids, and check for discharge. They will use an ophthalmoscope to evaluate the cornea, check the pupils and the retinas. Certain breeds are predisposed to developing glaucoma in their eyes and need to have the pressure of their eyes checked.
  • Ears – When the doctor examines the ears they look for any discharge or debris, inflammation, abnormal masses and other evidence of infection including odor. They will use an otoscope to inspect the ear drum and ear canals.
  • Mouth – During an oral exam, the doctor will check your pet’s teeth for tartar and calculus build up, broken teeth, sores, or lumps, foul odors and condition of the gums. Over 70% of pets over four years of age have some form of dental disease. Dental disease can lead to heart, liver, and or kidney problems when left untreated. Although most pets don’t show oral pain or stop eating, dental disease can be very painful.
  • Musculoskeletal – During this part of the exam, the doctor will feel and manipulate your pet’s muscles and joints to check their range of motion and alignment. They will also check your pet’s neck and back for any abnormalities and observe your pet’s gait.
  • Heart – Listening to your pet’s heart and feeling their pulses is a very important step in the exam. The doctor will detect abnormalities in their heart rate and rhythm and if there are any murmurs, which may indicate underlying heart disease.


  • Lungs – Listening to your pet’s lungs, the doctor is checking for any congestion, abnormal breathing patterns, or coughing.
  • Digestive – The doctor will feel your pet’s abdomen to check for distension, large organs, masses, fluid, or to see if there is pain anywhere.
  • Urogenital – This part of the exam includes checking the pet’s reproductive system, looking for any kind of discharge, changes in mammary glands, or prostate and any changes or problems with their urination.
  • Nervous System – The doctor evaluates their nervous system by examining the sensory and motor responses, including pet’s reflexes, posture and gait.
  • Behavior Assessment – Your pet’s wellness exam is also a good time to discuss behavioral issues you may have noticed as many of these can be due to undetected illness. If your pet is found to be healthy, you and your veterinarian can then discuss behavioral modification and/or drug therapy for your pet’s behavioral problem.

After the exam, the doctor will discuss any problems they find, form a diagnostic plan, and a therapeutic plan if necessary. Routine wellness exams provide your doctor the ability to build a picture of your pet’s general health as well as catching possible medical issues early, before they become bigger issues. It also gives you an opportunity to ask your veterinarian questions about your pet’s health, habits, behaviors, and daily care. This is also a good time for the doctor to provide you with home healthcare, advice and new information for the care of your pet.