Veterinary Pet Examination: What to Expect

Whether young, old, scaly, feathered or furry, all domestic pets will require a trip to the veterinarian at some point during their life time. It may be that you think your pet is unwell, or he has had an accident and requires emergency veterinary attention, or if you are a responsible and conscientious pet parent, you probably will want to ensure that you take your beloved animal for a thorough health check examination at least once per year. Nevertheless, if you haven’t taken your pet for a veterinary examination before, you are almost certainly wondering what to expect.

Unsurprisingly, exactly what will happen at a veterinary exam for a sick or injured pet will depend on their condition. So, for the purpose of this blog we will focus on what you can expect to happen at your pet’s annual veterinary examination.

Weighing your pet

It is important that your pet is weighed at every annual appointment. If your animal is still young, weighing him regularly will ensure that he is gaining weight at an appropriate weight, which would indicate his nutrition is on-point and he is getting enough exercise. Obesity is a serious health problem affecting many domestic pets, and in particular dogs and cats. By weighing your adult pet regularly, you can help him to remain healthy and prevent him from becoming obese. If you find that your pet has lost weight and you cannot explain why, it may suggest that he is harboring an underlying illness that warrants investigation.


A healthy temperature varies from pet to pet and largely depends on their species. A healthy temperature for dogs and cats is between 101 and 103.5F. A particularly high temperature might indicate that your animal is suffering from some form of infection.

Breathing, lungs and heart rate

Our veterinarian will use a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s breathing and check that his chest is clear. His heart rate should be steady and strong. A particularly slow or rapid heartbeat, or crackling sounds in the chest are just two symptoms of a possible underlying illness.

Stomach palpation

Stomach palpation is a standard part of a veterinary check-up but is especially important if your pet has been experiencing digestive issues in recent days, weeks or months. This involves our veterinarian feeling your pet’s stomach to ensure that all of the internal organs feel a normal size.

Coat, skin and eyes

The color of your pet’s skin and the appearance of his eyes are usually good indicators as to his general health. Eyes should be clear, bright and reactive, and in most pets, the skin should be warm and pink. If you have a furbaby, the condition of his coat is also a good way for our vet to gauge his health, and his coat should be shiny and soft. A coat that is lacklustre, patchy or dry might suggest your pet needs medical attention.


Ears an important orifice to check in many animals, but particularly in dog breeds with floppy ears as these types of ears tend to trap bacteria inside, causing infections and other problems to develop.

Dental check-up

Depending on the type of pet you have, a dental check-up may not be necessary. However, many veterinarians now include a dental examination as part of their annual pet care appointment. This gives our vet an opportunity to check for periodontal disease, decay and other dental problems.

The importance of a base line

If this is your pet’s first visit to the veterinarian, you can expect his results to form something referred to as a baseline. This is essentially a marker that subsequent check-ups will be measured against to provide a ‘journey’ of your pet’s health. From basic things like how much your animal weighs to the condition of his teeth, this baseline enables our veterinarian to make comparisons that will help him identify potential health problems early.

If your pet hasn’t yet had a veterinary check-up and you are worried or concerned about what to expect, contact us and speak to the team at our veterinary office who can give you further information as well as some tips to put you and your pet at ease.