Exactly What the Doctor Is Checking During Your Pet's Exam


  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Unusual swelling on his neck beneath the jaw, on the front of his chest or behind his knees

Eyes, Ears and Mouth

  • Appearance of third eyelid
  • Bumping into things (e.g., furniture)
  • Eye inflammation and/or discharge
  • Ear inflammation and/or discharge (often smelly)
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Inflamed or pale gums
  • Mouth odor

Normal Vital Signs in Dogs and Cats


Temperature: 99.5–102.5°F
Pulse: 100–140 beats/minute (small), 60–100 beats/minute (large)

Respiration Rate: 10–30 breaths/minute


Temperature: 100.5–102.5°F
Pulse: 140–220 beats/minute

Respiration Rate: 24–42 breaths/minute

A Basic Blood Chemistry Panel

Among other things, basic blood work typically checks for:

  • Anemia or infection
  • Hydration
  • General metabolism, including glucose levels
  • Kidney function
  • Liver function

These values provide your vet with a snapshot of how your pet’s body is functioning. “This is where four years of veterinary school and however many years of veterinary experience you have come together,” says Dr. Ruch-Gallie. “We’re taking bits and pieces from the blood work and putting it together with the physical exam to get the big picture.”
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