Dogs are part of the family, and like any other family member, they need routine medical checkups and preventive care. From vaccinations and parasite prevention to early detection of diseases, regular visits to the veterinary clinic are essential for your dog’s health.
In this article, we’ll explain what happens during a routine veterinary checkup and why these visits are so important for your pet. Plus, we’ll share some guidelines on how often you should take your dog to the vet at various stages of their life.
What happens during a routine veterinary checkup?
During a routine checkup, your vet will thoroughly examine your dog to make sure they’re in good health. Depending on your dog’s temperament, the examination may involve:
- Taking your pet’s vital signs, such as respiration and heart rate
- Examining their eyes, ears, and mouth for any signs of infection or inflammation
- Palpating their abdomen to check for any unusual lumps or swelling
- Checking the skin and coat for parasites, allergies, or other issues
- Listening to their heart and lungs to assess their cardiovascular health
- Feeling their joints and muscles for any signs of arthritis or other diseases
In addition to the physical examination, your vet will ask you about your dog’s diet, exercise routine, and behavior. This will help them to identify any potential concerns that need to be addressed. Depending on your pet’s age, breed, and overall health status, they may also recommend tests or procedures such as blood work, urinalysis, or vaccinations.
What are the benefits of regular checkups?
Now that we’ve covered what happens during a routine vet visit, let’s discuss the benefits. Regular checkups help your dog in a variety of ways. Here are a few of the most important benefits:
1. Early detection of health issues
By regularly monitoring your pet’s health, your vet will be able to detect any changes quickly. This helps them to identify potential problems early on and work with you to create a treatment plan that will give your dog the best chance of recovery.
For example, over 80% of dogs over three years of age suffer from dental disease, and it often goes unnoticed. During a routine checkup, your vet will examine your dog’s teeth and gums (as long as they allow it) to identify early signs of dental problems and help prevent serious health complications. These include inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), broken teeth, and even systemic infections caused by oral bacteria entering the bloodstream.
2. Maintaining vaccinations
Vaccines play a vital role in protecting your dog from serious infectious diseases like parvovirus, distemper, and canine hepatitis. During routine checkups, your vet will ensure that your pet is up to date with all their vaccinations and any boosters they need. This helps keep them safe from dangerous diseases and also protects other pets in your community.
Make sure to tell your vet if you’re planning to take your pet on trips abroad or to other areas of your home country. They will be able to advise you on any additional vaccinations or preventative measures that may be required for traveling to different areas.
3. Parasite prevention
Parasites like fleas, ticks, and heartworms can cause a variety of health issues in dogs. Routine checkups allow your vet to detect any existing parasites and provide appropriate prevention measures to keep them at bay. This helps protect your pet from skin irritation, anemia, and a whole host of other health problems. It also helps protect you—some parasites can be shared between humans and animals!
Follow your vet’s instructions for parasite prevention closely, and administer medications like topical flea treatments and heartworm preventatives as prescribed. Natural preventatives can sometimes be used in conjunction with traditional treatments, but check with your veterinarian first before administering any over-the-counter medications or supplements.
4. Weight management
Obesity is a common health issue among dogs and can lead to serious health complications, including inflammatory conditions, arthritis, and joint pain. During a routine checkup, your vet will assess your dog’s weight using the Body Condition Scoring (BCS) systems. This will help them determine if your pet is overweight, underweight, or within a healthy range.
They can then work with you to create a diet and exercise plan that will help your pet reach or maintain a healthy weight. Make sure to be honest with your vet about your dog’s diet and exercise routine. This will help them come up with an individualized plan that works best for your pet.
How often should I take my dog to the vet?
So far, we’ve discussed what happens during a routine checkup and why regular veterinary visits are so important for your dog’s overall health and wellbeing. But how often should these visits happen? Let’s take a look at some general guidelines for puppies, adult dogs, and senior pups.
Veterinary visits for puppies
The beginning of a dog’s life is the most important time for building strong foundations to support their future health and development. For this reason, puppies should visit the vet more often than adult dogs.
From 2 to 3 weeks old, your puppy will need a comprehensive health checkup along with dewormer medications. At 6–8 weeks of age, they’ll receive their first set of vaccinations and start taking preventatives for parasites like fleas, ticks, and heartworms.
Between 10 and 12 weeks of age, puppies will need their DHPP vaccine (distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus) as well as a wellness checkup. And at 16–18 weeks of age, they’ll need another DHPP vaccination along with the rabies shot. Non-core vaccines like Bordetella may also be given at this age, depending on your pet’s risk factors.
It’s important to note that the vaccination schedule for puppies can vary slightly depending on where you live and your puppy’s individual needs. Your vet will work with you to formulate a plan that works best for your pup. They may also recommend bringing your puppy in for wellness appointments in between vaccinations.
After that, annual vet visits and routine core vaccinations are typically recommended throughout adulthood. Boosters for core and non-core vaccines will also need to be administered as recommended by your vet.
Veterinary visits for adult dogs
Most healthy adult dogs should visit the vet annually for a comprehensive wellness examination. During the appointment, your vet will assess your dog’s overall health, administer necessary vaccines, and provide any preventative care that may be needed.
In some cases, your vet may ask you to bring your adult dog in for more frequent visits. This is usually recommended for dogs with chronic health problems or those at high risk of contracting certain diseases.
Veterinary visits for senior dogs
When your dog reaches their senior years, typically around 7–10 years of age, they should visit the vet more often. Many experts recommend twice yearly checkups for older dogs, as this is when age-related conditions and diseases start to develop.
During these visits, your vet will assess the overall health of your senior dog and perform any tests that may be necessary to screen for age-related conditions. They will also administer any vaccines and preventative treatments needed to keep your pet healthy. Make sure to ask your vet any questions you may have about caring for your senior dog.
As your dog progresses in age, it’s important to be vigilant about changes in their health or behavior and bring them to the vet as soon as possible if you notice anything unusual. This is the best way to ensure your pup is getting the care and treatment they need during their golden years.
Schedule routine checkups to keep your dog healthy
Regular veterinary visits provide important benefits for your dog throughout their entire life. From early detection of illnesses to maintaining vaccinations and protecting against parasites, routine checkups are essential for your dog’s overall health and wellbeing.
By following the guidelines outlined above, you can ensure that your dog has the best care possible from puppyhood to their senior years. So, don’t forget to schedule routine wellness exams with your vet for a happy and healthy pup.