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Kirkwood Animal Hospital

January 2022 Newsletter: 2022 Pet Wellness

Large white dog being examined by a veterinarian in scrubs

Happy New Year, and we hope 2022 will be an outstanding year for you and your pet. But, it’s up to you to keep your pet’s New Year Resolution — great health — which starts with your pet’s annual wellness exam. Also, below we would like to share the current COVID protocol ensuring safety for everyone who brings silver puppies.

The Physical Exam

The annual exam is among the most important tools to keep your pet healthy. As our pets cannot tell us when they don’t feel well, a good veterinarian can identify health concerns early — shortening the road to recovery.

During a physical exam, we will conduct a thorough head-to-toe review of your pet — starting at the head working our way to the tail. We’ll check your pet’s eyes for cataracts and glaucoma, the ears for infection or parasites, the mouth for broken teeth or gingivitis, and the neck for your pet’s lymph nodes and thyroid gland.

Moving down, we will carefully listen to your pet’s chest for a heart murmur or irregular beat — which are signs of heart disease. We also listen to the lungs, feel the abdomen for irregularities, feel the skin and coat condition, check the hips and elbows for swollen or painful joints, and examine the hind-end for hernias, abnormal growths, or anal gland problems.

Finally, we will watch your pet move around the room looking for any signs of pain or neurological issues.


You’ll notice that we weigh your pet upon every visit. Keeping a close eye on your pet’s weight helps us to identify any activity concerns, potential diet adjustments, and any possible underlying health conditions — such as diabetes.


Each year we will review your pet’s vaccination record and recommend any vaccines or boosters based upon your pet’s activities, the climate, and any diseases present in the area. Vaccines are important as they prevent potentially fatal diseases, and every pet needs “core vaccines” including rabies.

Dental Exam

A dental exam should be conducted yearly with periodic dental cleaning based upon the results of the exam. Good dental hygiene is vital as bacteria in the mouth, particularly between the teeth and gums, can stress other organs of the body via infections. And, of course, dental disease can be painful for your pet.

Parasite Testing

Fleas can be more than a nuisance to pets, and heartworm can be fatal. Furthermore, parasites such as roundworm and ringworm can affect humans as well. We typically recommend a fecal sample to check for parasites in the intestine, and a blood sample to look for heartworm. Either topical or internal medicine is an invaluable element to keep your pet healthy.

Lab Work

Based on a pet’s breed and age, we might recommend additional targeted diagnostic testing. Additional blood work, for example, will check for items that can’t be detected during a physical exam such as signs of diabetes, an underlying infection, or poor kidney health. Detecting and treating disease at its earliest stage is best for the pet and less costly to the pet owner in the long run. Of course, owners always have the ultimate say in a pet’s care. But a collaborative approach is often best for your pet’s health and longevity.