Ask Dr. Anna: Guthrie veterinarian reveals the physical exam

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For all columns with Dr. Anna visit her blog here.

This is the third part of a Guthrie vet wants to take you on a journey.  Now that all the questions have been asked it’s time for the meat and potatoes of the visit, the physical exam.  This is the real reason why you need to bring your pet annually to see your veterinarian.  This is my favorite part because this is what I have been trained to do. 

Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.
Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.

Unfortunately, through my personal journey from doctor to doctor with my chronic migraines, I was shocked that only 1 out of the 4 doctors that I went to see for my medical problem actually performed a full physical exam on me.  The physical exam is a powerful diagnostic tool by itself and along with a good patient history can many times determine whether additional diagnostic testing is necessary.

So what exactly is a physical exam?  Any veterinarian will tell you that it is an evaluation of a patient using our five senses and minimally invasive techniques.  In veterinary medicine sometimes this is often the only method available for diagnosing a patient’s illness because of financial limitations.

Your veterinarian should perform a full head to tail examination on your pet during your annual visit.  A good veterinarian will describe to you what she is finding on the physical exam as she is examining your pet.  Following is a brief description of each point your veterinarian is examining.

  1. Mouth:  Signs of disease in the teeth and gums, bad breath
  2.  Eyes: Discharge, abnormal movement or reaction to light, eyelid abnormalities, retinal diseases
  3. Ears: Signs of ear infection or ear mites.
  4. Lymph nodes & Thyroid glands: Any changes in size
  5. Heart:  Weak or abnormal heart sounds along with the rate and rhythm of the heart.
  6. Lungs: Wheezing, crackling or any abnormal lung sounds.
  7. Abdomen:  Any changes in size of the organs along with any masses or tumors
  8. Base of the tail:  Anal glands, fecal mats or evidence of soft stools, intestinal parasites.
  9. Skin:  Lumps or bumps, rashes, external parasites and hydration.
  10. Legs:  Range of motion and any signs of pain or discomfort.

It’s very common for a veterinarian to find at least one abnormality on an annual physical exam.  By bringing your pet in for an annual exam, it allows your vet to discover problems before they become serious.  Is your pet current on vaccines?   If not call your  veterinarian right now and schedule and appointment.

Please e-mail me with your questions at and put “Ask Dr. Anna” in the subject line or mail your questions to 123 West Harrison Guthrie, OK 73044.

Spay and neuter your pets! “The reason dogs have so many friends is because they wag their tails and not their tongues.” author unknown

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