What is included in your dog’s routine checkup?
The goal of routine dog exams is to ensure your canine companion is in good health, to issue appropriate vaccinations, and to spot issues that could progress into major problems. Just like our human checkups and dental visits, they are meant to contribute to ongoing optimal health.
How often should your dog head to the vet for a checkup? It depends on his age and health condition. Generally:
- Early Puppyhood: monthly
- Puppy - Adult Dog: annual
- Middle-Aged and Senior Dog: semi-annual
- Geriatric: semi-annual or more frequently, depending on health
Remember, dogs don’t age at the same rate as their owners. By the time he is six, for example, your small dog is middle-aged and your large dog is a senior. If he lives longer than the average breed life expectancy, he is considered “geriatric.” Check with your vet to determine how often your dog needs an exam to stay as healthy as possible.
What Goes On During a Dog Exam?
When you take your dog in for an exam, expect:
Your vet will ask you about your dog’s general health, any concerns, his diet, activity level, behaviors, habits, bowel movements/urination, etc.
A Physical Examination.
Your vet checks and observes a variety of factors, including:
- Your dog’s stance and how he walks
- Your dog’s level of alertness
- Muscle condition
- Coat and skin
- Nose and face
- Mouth and teeth
The vet will also listen to the heart and lungs for signs of any issues, as well as palpate, or physically examine, his pulse, lymph nodes, legs, and abdomen.
Your vet may also recommend additional tests, including:
- Heartworm testing
- Feces sample (important for puppies in the fight against intestinal parasites)
- CBC (complete blood count)
- Chest and abdominal x-rays (for senior and geriatric dogs)
Because our pets cannot verbalize how they feel or what may be wrong, we need to conduct exams and testing to find our answers. And because our pets often hide symptoms when conditions are in their early stages, it is important to uncover potential problems before they progress to dangerous levels. Treatment is then possible - and more effective.
One key aspect of a dog exam is vaccinations. Your pet needs certain shots in order to maintain optimal health. In some cases, they need them to comply with legal regulations, town ordinances, and requirements from boarding and grooming facilities. Ask your vet about:
- DHPP (distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus, and parainfluenza)
- Lyme Disease
- Canine Influenza
Vets often stagger the vaccinations for two reasons: one, so your poor pup isn’t getting three sticks in a single visit! And two, so it’s easier to stay on a regular schedule in terms of routine exams. (It is also easier on your wallet to go with one or two vaccines at a time rather than three or four.)
Flea and Tick Prevention.
While you are at the vet, ask about effective flea, and tick prevention. You can purchase pill-form or chewable medications that kill fleas and ticks and prevent serious conditions like Lyme Disease. This is also beneficial for you and your family: no one wants rampant flea bites, and some of us are far more susceptible to the itchy, red welts than others.
When you take your dog to the vet, do not hesitate to ask questions related to his health and wellbeing. If you’re wondering about nutrition, exercise, weight control, mental stimulation, or other issues, take advantage of Avery Creek Pet Hospital’s expertise.
Get Ready for Your Dog’s Exam
How can you prepare for a dog exam? Well, the good news is that you don’t have to study! But you can:
- Ask the vet if your dog needs to fast before his visit
- Be prepared to tell your doctor the brand and type of food your dog eats, his elimination habits, any supplements you give him, etc.
- List concerns you have
- List questions you have about health management strategies
- Make the trip a fun one for your pet. No stress! Your response to a vet’s visit is critical - and our team will ensure your pet’s experience is positive, calm, and soothing.
Has your dog had his regular checkup? If not, contact Avery Creek Pet Hospital today and schedule a visit. Your pet’s health is our top priority.