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Pet Wellness Services

You go to the doctor regularly, but has your pet had a recent exam?

Because our pets can’t tell us how they feel, a regular physical examination is a very important piece of your pet’s health care. We recommend a complete nose-to-tail physical examination at least once a year, though more frequent exams are encouraged.

A routine examination provides you and your veterinarian with the opportunity to develop a picture of your pet’s overall health as well as to spot potential medical issues before they become serious health concerns. It’s also an opportunity for you to ask any important questions you may have about your pet’s health, habits and daily care. We also use this time to inform you about home healthcare for your pet and offer important advice and new information on the care of your particular type and breed of animal.

During your pet’s wellness checkup, Bridgewater Veterinary Hospital doctors will individualize our recommendations to the breed, age, history, and lifestyle of your pet as well as any health concerns you may have.

Our nose-to-tail exam includes the following:

Listen to your pet’s heart

– Early signs of cardiac disease include heart murmurs and abnormal heart beat patterns. We look for an arrhythmia when we listen through a stethoscope. Discovering these initial indicators of trouble ahead can lead to identifying underlying conditions. We can then start treating the issue before it becomes a more serious health threat.

Listen to your pet’s lungs

– Health issues including obstructive diseases can be detected by listening to your pet’s lungs. The doctor can also assess the overall pulmonary health of your pet.

Check your pet’s teeth and oral cavity

– Examining your pet’s teeth and mouth is an important part of preventing dental disease. One of the most common health concerns in pets is dental disease. Very young animals, such as kittens and puppies, also need to be checked to ensure they are developing an appropriate bite and that they are losing their baby teeth at the right time. We also take the time to discuss proper home dental care with you.

Meet Mark:


Mark is a highly skilled and experienced Certified Veterinary Dental Technician who joined the Bridgewater Veterinary Team in November 2000. His responsibilities include probing and charting teeth, identifying oral pathology, cleaning and polishing teeth, and taking dental X-rays. Mark has an associate’s degree and a Veterinary Dental Certification from the American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

“I enjoy being able to relieve animals of pain and educate our clients on the proper way to take care of their pet’s teeth,” he says. “All of this contributes to a happier, healthier pet with a greater quality of life.”

At home, Mark cares for his skunk Valentine and honeybees. In his free time he enjoys beekeeping, flying airplanes, sailing, traveling, drawing, painting and photography.

Evaluate your pet’s vision

– All diseases follow a relatively predictable processes and if found early can be more easily treated. Ocular conditions, which can also be prevented through regular care and screenings, are no exception.

Look into your pet’s ears

– As with dental disease, ear disease is relatively common in many types of pets. Issues such as low-grade allergies, swimming or bathing, reactions to certain foods, mites and other parasites can all cause and contribute to otitis or ear disease. You may feel that you want to handle this at home. But, in fact, many ear diseases are difficult to detect and require medical treatment.

Palpate the lymph nodes, abdomen and skin

– We feel the skin, looking for unusual lumps or swellings. We are evaluating for skin discolorations, lesions, or patterns of hair loss or thinning. These can indicate the presence of more systemic problems, especially metabolic diseases, which most commonly occur in middle-aged animals.

Palpate joints and muscles

– By examining the joints, legs and other areas of the body, we are able to evaluate for swollen joints. This includes decreased muscle tone and variations in muscle size between the limbs. We also observe your pet’s gait for developmental issues. In puppies, we look for early indications of hip or elbow problems. For older pets, we look for signs of arthritis, which can be well-treated if found early.

Lab work

– A complete physical includes a heartworm test, parasite screening, and should include a full blood workup. A full chemistry panel and complete blood count can identify the presence of underlying diseases. These tests help create a baseline should your pet become ill between routine examinations. Additionally, blood work is necessary if your veterinarian recommends any procedure that requires anesthesia. These procedures can include a dental cleaning, removal of skin masses, or certain testing procedure.

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