A Veterinarian’s Physical Examination

A visit to the veterinarian’s office usually consists of two major parts: the initial taking of a history and the secondary physical examination.  While the purpose and advantages of taking a history are often rather apparent, the physical examination is often more mysterious.  So today this blog will go over what exactly your veterinarian is looking for in his or her physical examination.

I always begin my physical examination with the head and then work backwards, towards the tail.

Denali the Labrador


Placing a hand over one eye and making a motion towards the other eye tests for the “menace reflex.”  A visual dog (unless the patient is a young puppy or kitten) will blink or pull away from that threatening gesture.  This is our primary indicator of vision.  We also check the sclera, or “whites of the eye,” for any signs of inflammation such as prominent blood vessels or discharge.  Ensuring that both pupils are the same size is important – unequal pupil size (anisocoria) can indicate a range of neurological or other disorders. Continue reading A Veterinarian’s Physical Examination