As any responsible pet owner knows, your dog – even if in good health – should have an annual checkup by a
veterinarian. Just as you have an annual physical and wellness appointment with your doctor, so too should your four-legged friend. There are a number of health areas that your vet will review with you during an appointment.
With younger dogs or ones that may have been new to you, vets often recommend a full range of vaccination treatments to prevent chronic diseases and illnesses. In most areas, vaccination against canine distemper, canine parvovirus and canine hepatitis are common. Some vets may also recommend protection against Lyme disease or Bordetella, a bacteria that can cause “kennel cough” in dogs. Additionally, many states require dogs be vaccinated against rabies as a pup with regular boosters required to maintain effectiveness. The American Veterinary Medical Association offers a state-by-state outline of rabies laws, though local municipalities may have additional regulations.
A vet will also give your pet a full review of their physical appearance, behavior and wellness. This will include examining your pup’s gait for any strangeness in how he or she walks, look at your dog’s coat for hair health and any signs of fleas or mites, examine the mouth and face for any dental problems, breathing difficulties or signs of vision issues, among other reviews. The vet will also listen to your pet’s heartbeat and chest, just as your doctor would, and pat along the dog’s body to explore for signs of swollen lymph nodes or other unwanted lumps or bumps.
Depending on your dog’s health, local diseases or illnesses that may be prevalent or his or her age, the vet may suggest additional tests, like blood work or examining a stool sample. Blood tests may reveal indications of diseases that may not be obvious with a physical exam, or may be called for if your veterinarian suspects that your dog may have an infection or symptoms that could indicate other problems, like intestinal parasites or heartworm. For the same reason, your vet may ask that you bring a recent stool sample from your dog. Fecal exams can show signs of internal problems that won’t be obvious and can help your vet to identify what the nature of the infection or infestation is so that he or she can prescribe an appropriate treatment regimen.
Keeping up on your dog’s annual checkup can help to establish your pet’s baselines of health. Even if you don’t outwardly see a problem, a thorough checkup annually can verify your dog’s clean bill of health and help assure you of your pet’s wellness. They say prevention is the best medicine, so make sure to keep your annual appointment and keep your four-legged friend in good health for years to come.