For most people, dogs are like dear friends or even members of the family: they play with the kids, they greet you when you come home from work, they are a constant companion, and they may even go on vacation with you. However, while most parents make sure that their children get regular check-ups at the pediatrician and the dentist, many don't take their pet to the veterinarian or animal hospital until there are signs or symptoms of something being wrong. This, however, can be a mistake, as dogs have a regular need to see a healthcare professional just like their human owners. Read below to find out what a vet will check during a wellness visit, how often your dog should see the vet on a regular basis, and what you can observe between visits to help the vet keep your dog healthy and happy.
While you and your beloved pet may feel a little unsure on your first visit to the animal hospital, there's no reason to be nervous; If you know what to expect, it can help calm you, which in turn will help your dog feel calm. As you take your dog on a regular basis, as you should, it will become part of a routine that can even become a bonding experience for you and your pet.
Before you go in for your dog's visit, pay close attention to your pet's behavior and daily habits, such as sleeping, eating, exercise, and bathroom patterns, as the vet will ask you about these. Also, check with the vet beforehand to see if they want you to bring a stool sample or to have your dog fast before the visit.
At the wellness check, the vet will also observe your dog's ears, eyes, nose, mouth/teeth, how alert they are, and how they stand and walk. The vet will feel your dog's legs, abdomen, pulse, and lymph nodes and listen to the heartbeat and lungs to check that everything is functioning as it should.
Much like humans, animals need to see the vet more often when they're very young and very old. A puppy, just like a baby, is more prone to develop illnesses that their immune system is not strong enough to fight off or to have an abnormality in their physical development that could affect them for the rest of their life. For the first six months of a puppy's life, it should see the vet once a month to get shots, have blood work done to check for disease, and make sure it is growing at a normal, healthy rate.
Adolescence and Adulthood
After their first six months, your dog should see the vet for a wellness check at least once a year. As your dog is visiting the animal hospital less often, the vet may suggest that your dog have wellness screening tests like urinalysis and complete blood count. These, in addition to your dog's regular shots and flea/tick prevention, can help ensure that your pet thoroughly enjoys the prime years of their life.
Different dog breeds live for different amounts of time, so be sure to check your dog's life expectancy to know when they are entering the latter-stage of their lifetime (this usually falls between 7-10 years old). As your dog becomes a mature animal, they should see the vet twice a year for wellness checks. In addition to the routine checks from before, your vet will start to pay closer attention to the areas that commonly give older dogs trouble: arthritis, thyroid levels, and liver and kidney health. You'll also want to note and mention any changes that you notice in your dog's behavior as they get older (eating less, changes in bathroom patterns, etc.), which will help your vet know what problems might be starting to occur.
Your dog's health is not something you should leave to chance--take them in to the vet at regular intervals to make sure they get the most out of life. If you have specific questions or concerns about your canine's well-being, visit your local animal hospital or veterinarian today. You can also go to this website to learn more about vet services in your area.