All patients should have at least one annual health check. A yearly exam can often pick up problems early so that treatment can be started before a condition becomes serious. Vaccination may be given at this time. For older animals, we recommend check-ups every six months. Pets taking medication for an extended period of time or with specific illnesses may require check-ups every three months.
The physical exam is the single most important part of any doctor’s visit. At Sherbourne Animal Hospital, Dr. Albarracin spends time listening to your concerns and providing counselling for your particular needs.
When your concerns have been heard, a physical exam is performed. This exam will include, depending on the circumstances, some or all of the following procedures:
Your pet’s pertinent history. This could be very brief or extensive depending on your concerns and the preliminary observation of your pet’s general appearance by our team.
Obtaining his/her vital signs. These are heart rate and pulse, respiratory rate, temperature, weight and blood pressure.
Head and neck exam. Our doctor evaluates teeth, gums, eyes, ears, nose, salivary glands and local lymph nodes. Many important organs are localized in this region, not to mention that the quality of your pet’s oral health provides information about his/her overall health.
Heart exam. It is essential to identify two main issues: abnormal heart sounds (called heart murmurs) and irregular heartbeat (called cardiac arrhythmia's). Both of these heart abnormalities can be clues to heart disease.
Lung exam. It is important to detect crackles, wheezes, or decreased breath sounds. These and other sounds are clues to the presence of heart or lung disease (asthma, pulmonary hypertension, heartworms, pneumonia,etc.).
Abdominal exam. This identifies changes in the size and shape of the liver, the spleen, the kidneys, the bladder, the small intestines and, on occasion, the stomach. Through palpation, doctors can also identify the presence of abdominal fluid and abdominal tenderness (pancreatitis, gastrointestinal foreign bodies, peritonitis).
Dermatological Exam. Pets can often develop skin, nails or ears problems, especially during the summer. Our doctor could need to perform skin scraping, skin/ear cytology, skin culture, skin biopsies and /or blood work to identify a dermatological problem (parasitic infection, yeast infection or immune disease) or a disease somewhere else in the body (adrenal disease or thyroid disease).
Extremities exam. Dr. Albarracin will look for physical and sensory changes through palpation of the extremities and flexion and extension of the joints. Pets cannot talk and sometimes, abnormalities are noted only through these series of motions. The doctor can determine if your pet’s inactivity is due to pain in the articulations, bones or ligaments (arthritis, ligament rupture, cartilage damage).
Ultrasound scanning is a painless procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves (inaudible to humans) to produce images of structures within the body. When sound waves are aimed into the body, some are absorbed by body tissues and others bounce back. The sound waves that bounce back are measured by the ultrasound machine and are transformed into an image of a particular body area.
WHEN SHOULD ULTRASOUND SCANNING BE USED?
Ultrasonography is most useful for looking at soft or fluid-filled organs like the liver, kidney, bladder, intestines, gall bladder, eyes, tendons, muscles, glands and heart. It is less effective for examining mineralized structures (like bones) or air-filled organs (like the lungs).
PREPARING FOR AN
Please do not let your pet urinate within 2 hours before their study. A full or partially full urinary bladder is very helpful for a complete examination.
Do not feed your pet after midnight the night before their procedure. Fasting is important as a full stomach will make imaging organs around the stomach difficult (liver, adrenals etc). Water is permitted.
Will your pet need to be sedated?
Most of our patients will not need sedation. However, if your pet is very anxious or in pain, sedation may be helpful. It will also indicate if a tissue biopsy is required. We will inform you if there are any contraindications to sedation.
A NOTE ON HAIR
After the procedure, you may notice that your pet has been clipped. The hair on the abdomen (for abdominal ultrasound) or on the chest wall (thoracic ultrasound) will be shaved prior to the examination. This is necessary as the presence of hair obstructs the ultrasound waves and causes “blackout” on the picture. Blackout prevents us from obtaining the best possible view.
AFTER THE ULTRASOUND
following the examination, Dr. Albarracin will evaluate the images and then discuss the images with a radiologist should it be needed. When you return to pick up your pet, you will be given a brief overview of the findings (pending on schedule), but we ask that you schedule a visit or contact us to fully discuss the findings from the study and any further recommendations as they relate to the clinical problem of your pet.
We have a well-equipped radiology suite that enables us to produce good quality radiographs over a wide range of patients, from a small kitten or pup to the largest of the dog breeds.
X-rays are a fast non-invasive way of diagnosing problems in your pet. We are able to do plain x-rays studies to diagnose pregnancy, bladder stones, arthritis, pneumonia, gastrointestinal foreign bodies and other common conditions and contrast x-rays such as barium swallows, intravenous pyelograms and urethrograms to diagnose problems in the transit of food and urine.
Radiographs are also used in the diagnoses of orthopedic diseases (fractures, bone irregularities, ligament ruptures, etc). In these cases, pet placement is very important and therefore sedation is required in the majority of the cases.
Sherbourne Animal Hospital is equipped with the most modern in-house testing facilities available that enable us to obtain accurate blood results in less than an hour. This gives us results straight away for acutely ill animals and enables us to care for your pet more promptly and effectively. We also use an external laboratory for less common blood and body tissue analyses which are collected daily by courier ensuring rapid reporting of results.