Dog Wellness Exams

Dog Wellness Exams

Dog Wellness Exams: Preventive Veterinary Care

Just like their owners, dogs should see their primary care doctor at least once a year for a checkup. An annual wellness examination is an excellent way to touch base with your veterinary team and make sure that your dog continues to be healthy and happy.

Contact a local veterinarian to establish preventive veterinary care and get your dog on the path to wellness. 

Dog Wellness Exams

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of your dog from nose to tail, looking for any changes that may have occurred since the last examination. As part of the dog physical exam, your veterinarian will also ask you how your dog is doing at home, if there have been any changes in behavior or habits, and if you have any concerns. The veterinary staff will ask you what food your pet normally eats, how much, and what type of heartworm and flea and tick preventatives you are using.

Dog Vaccinations

A current rabies vaccine is a requirement in all states; dogs must be vaccinated one year after their initial rabies vaccination, and then every one or three years depending on the vaccine manufacturer’s requirements. The other core vaccine for dogs is a combination vaccine for distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus; this is often administered every three years once your dog reaches adulthood. 

There are other vaccines available, such as Lyme, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, and Canine Influenza. These vaccines require annual boosters, but not all of the vaccines may be indicated for your dog. Your dog veterinarian and veterinary support team will review with you which vaccines are indicated, and their recommendations will be based on factors such as where you live, if your dog attends doggie daycare or is boarded, and if your dog travels with you out of the area.

Dog Lab Tests

Your veterinarian will review with you the need for any blood work or other testing at your appointment. Dogs do need to be tested yearly for heartworm disease to make sure it is safe to continue administering heartworm preventative medications. Other lab work may be recommended depending on your dog’s age, the presence of any chronic medical conditions, or if your dog is on some long-term medications. For instance, if your dog has chronic kidney disease, it is important to check his or her blood and urine for any signs of progression of the disease so that adjustments to the treatment plan can be made. Some long-term medications such as steroids, anti-seizure medications, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) also require monitoring of internal organ function through lab work in order to make sure the medications are not doing more harm than good.

Senior Dog Wellness

It is especially important for older pets to see a dog vet at least once a year, if not more often; many veterinarians recommend at least twice-yearly visits for their senior patients. As dogs get older, changes in their health happen more rapidly, and your veterinarian can help you recognize these changes.

Be certain to mention to your veterinarian if you’ve noticed your dog slowing down or having difficulty moving around. Oftentimes, pet owners think those signs simply mean that their dog is getting older and it’s just an expected part of the aging process. However, these are often signs of pain. After a thorough examination of your dog and a discussion with you about the signs you are seeing at home, it may turn out that your veterinarian has the solution to helping your dog have a good quality of life during the golden years...and maybe even acting like a puppy again. That solution may be a medication like a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) to help with the pain and inflammation associated with age-related arthritis, a change in diet to reduce excess weight causing stress on their joints, or some combination of both.

Speak With Your Veterinarian About Your Dog’s Wellness Needs

It may seem a bit strange to take a seemingly healthy pet to the dog vet, but those routine dog wellness checkups with your veterinarian are important to establish a baseline for comparison in case your dog becomes sick in the future. It also gives the veterinarian an opportunity to catch a potential illness sooner rather than later, giving you and the veterinary team time to put a plan in place for prevention or treatment of various conditions. 

Reach out to a veterinarian near you to find out his or her recommendations on the frequency of dog wellness exams. Just as with you, veterinarians want to be certain your dog is going to live a long, happy, and healthy life.