What happens during a visit to the veterinarian?

When you take your animal to see the vet, whether for a vaccination or because it is unwell, the vet will examine your pet from head to tail. Even if you are not aware of it, the vet will follow a very precise protocol when examining your animal, ensuring good clinical practice.

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The owner knows his or her dog better than anyone else.


The veterinarian starts by watching the animal, how it behaves and how it walks as it enters the consultation room. Any lameness or behavioural problem (for example indifference) will be noted. The vet will also note the dog’s body condition (thin, normal, overweight or obese) and the condition of its coat. Any anomalies will be entered into the list of clinical signs and will help to pinpoint a diagnosis and orientate the treatment. During this time, he or she will allow the dog to familiarise itself with the environment. You can help to reassure your dog by conversing calmly with your vet. The vet will ask you why you have brought your dog to see him and will listen to your account of the events that have prompted the consultation. During a vaccination visit, the vet will ask general questions about the dog’s health, behaviour and usual diet. It is important at this point to speak of any worries you may have or any changes in the dog’s behaviour or routine. The owner knows his or her dog better than anyone else. For dogs that have a tendency to become aggressive, it is important to muzzle them to prevent any accidents.

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The National Veterinary College Alfort

The National Veterinary College Alfort (ENVA) is a very famous university, particularly renowned for its clinical and research activities in relation to companion dogs. ENVA was one of the first institutions to develop clinical activities in specialised canine medicine and surgery, and to create a residency for young veterinarians.

Clinical activities for companion animals are being developed all the time and there are now between 40,000 and 50,000 interventions per year. In autumn 2009, we opened a hospital entirely devoted to dogs and cats. Canine medicine and surgery are dominant activities. The Veterinary University Hospital Centre, covering almost 3,600 m2 (39,000 square feet), houses rooms specialised in every clinical field. It is open 24 hours a day every day of the year, providing owners and veterinarians with the best possible medical and surgical services in an optimal, state-of-the-art environment.

These advances have helped maintain ENVA’s reputation as the best service provider in the Paris region, which is surely one of the world’s most densely populated regions when it comes to dogs.

© Mialot

Professor Jean Paul Mialot,
Veterinary surgeon,
Director, National Veterinary College Alfort,



The veterinarian will usually start the examination at the muzzle and finish with the tail.


Whenever possible, the veterinarian will request that the animal is placed on the consulting table. He will usually start the examination at the muzzle and finish with the tail. He will pay particular attention to the ears, eyes and teeth. Then he will start to palpate the animal. Palpation is useful for detecting any skin problems (spots, cuts, lumps), but also for checking the subcutaneous lymph nodes. He will palpate the abdomen to feel the different internal organs (liver, stomach, intestines, kidneys and bladder). He will conclude the examination with the anal glands to check that they are not blocked.

Auscultation, eye and ear examination

To do this, the veterinarian uses specific examination tools: an ophthalmoscope for the eyes, otoscope for the ears and stethoscope for the heart. If the animal is ill, the veterinarian will then concentrate more specifically on the organs that could be causing the visible clinical signs and those mentioned by the owner.
To complete this information and establish a diagnosis, the vet may prescribe or perform further diagnostic tests and examinations.

© CHV Frégus/Grossemy/Hermeline/Diffomédia
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My dog has bad breath, where does it come from?

LBad breath is one of the most common causes of concern and reasons pet owners visit their veterinarian. Bad breath can be caused by gum disease or an upset stomach. Gum disease is caused by bacteria attaching to the tooth surface and breaking down to produce a disagreeable sulphur odour in addition to redness and swelling of the gums.

Gum disease can be prevented. With good home-care, including feeding a diet which massages the gums and removes the bacteria, toothbrushing, if the pet will allow, and regular visits to the veterinarian, the pet's teeth and gums should remain healthy and the breath pleasant.

© Clarke

Dr David E Clarke
BVSc, Diplomate AVDC, Fellow AVD, MACVSc
Registered Specialist, Veterinary Dentistry
Hallam, Victoria

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What happens during a visit to the veterinarian?
    What happens during a visit to the veterinarian?

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