Physical Exams

Life Stages

An effective physical exam is a fluid, evolving approach that changes as the pet moves through life stages:

Life Stages Dogs Cats
Neonate birth to 6 weeks birth to 6 weeks
Pediatric 6 weeks to 6 months 6 weeks to 5 months
Adolescent 6 months to 2 years 5 months to 1 year
Adult 2 years to 7 years 1 year to 8 years
Senior (last 25% of expected lifespan) 7 to 10 years 8 years to 14 years
Geriatric (beyond expected lifespan) over 10 years 14 years+

*Note: Pets enter the geriatric stage based on breed, chronic illness and individual differences. For example, a miniature poodle may live to be more than 16 years old, but a St Bernard may live to be 10.

See FAQ on Defining Life Stages »

Elements of Basic Physical Exam

A basic physical exam, by our BloomingPaws veterinarians, always includes the following:

  • Weight
  • Evaluation of pet’s ambulation (if ambulatory)
  • Assessment of mentation
  • EENT (eyes, ears, nose, throat: basic ophthalmic exam, checking ear canals and pinnae, upper respiratory system and oral exam as pet tolerates in un-sedated state, evaluating to see if pet is in need of more extensive oral exam with sedation or if is in need of teeth cleaning)
  • H/L (heart and lungs: listening to heart and lungs with stethoscope, palpation of peripheral pulses, evaluation of capillary refill time, heart rate, respiratory rate)
  • Lymph node palpation
  • Abdominal palpation
  • Musculoskeletal exam (checking for symmetry of gait/muscle mass, changes in joint mobility, pain on movement/manipulations, etc)
  • Skin and coat health, including presence/absence of external parasites (fleas, ticks, mites, lice)

BloomingPaws veterinarians discuss with owner about concerns/questions that have developed since last visit or questions that may present themselves during the course of the exam and consultation.

Comprehensive parasite screening and preventions by our veterinarians(annual heartworm testing/fecal float, year-round heartworm/flea/tick prevention).

Risk assessment and individualized vaccine schedule tailored to that pet’s lifestyle at the recommendation of our veterinarians.

Additional Metabolic Screening for Adults and Seniors

Early detection of illness is done via physical exam and laboratory findings by our BloomingPaws veterinarians.  Metabolic screenings may vary with circumstance, but in general these should be done annually on adults (1-7 years) and biannually on seniors (7+ years):

  • Heartworm testing
  • CBC, chemistry,
  • Urinalysis

Additional Testing for Seniors & Geriatrics

  • Thyroid profile
  • Glaucoma screening and Schirmer tear testing¬† (based on either physical exam findings, owner observation, or breed predilection)
  • Possibly an ECG