Caring for pets is always a responsibility and routine vet care for dogs is highly crucial, whether for vaccines or just a screening every now and then can prevent a myriad of conditions that your dog might develop.
In today’s article, we’re looking at everything you should know about routine exams, from what they exactly entail to how you should prepare for them.
Importance of Veterinary Care
While adult dogs should be seen by a professional at the veterinary hospital at least once a year, it’s not the same when it comes to different categories, such as puppies, pregnant dogs, or seniors.
They say that prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that is entirely true.
A routine exam can lead to an accurate diagnosis of a potentially life-threatening disease. When caught early, most dog diseases are easier to treat compared to when they are diagnosed in their later stages.
Signs of Illness
When you first get a puppy, you should seek out veterinary care in your area as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter if the breeder was a responsible one and vaccinated the puppies or bred only healthy parents – you need to be aware of some basic information, such as how often puppies should be seen by a veterinary physician.
Signs of illness can vary a lot depending on the dog’s health status, age, lifestyle and amount of exercise they get in every day, what they eat, as well as whether they have been vaccinated against infectious diseases, whether they be bacterial or viral.
Your routine vet will inform you as to how you’re supposed to care for your dog, and they might also give you some guidance on what’s alarming and what’s not in terms of symptoms.
In the first few months of their lives, puppies are especially vulnerable to all sorts of infections – so you should keep an eye on whether your dog gets enough food and water if they develop indigestion and start vomiting or having diarrhea, if they have a fever, and more.
If a recently performed diagnostic testing procedure has revealed that your dog has any condition whatsoever, your vet might initiate treatment at the hospital and then give you oral medication for home use.
Most medications will come with some instructions in the box, so you can take a look at them and see what side effects you can expect, along with the specific dosage for every dog in part.
Your vet will also instruct you on how you should give your dog the drugs. Sometimes, you may need to get a little creative such as hiding the pill inside a small piece of treat or paté or even covering it in peanut butter.
Dogs are different when it comes to the ease of giving them medication – some can be entirely put off by the smell of the pills, while others might not pay any attention to it if the snack is particularly delicious.
Deworming your dog on a regular basis should be a major part of pet care (once every 3-4 months). Puppies are particularly prone to getting intestinal parasites, whether from the ground or from being in direct contact with other animals.
Since your dog is going to spend a good portion of their time outdoors, the risk of them getting a parasite infestation is quite high. You could even bring eggs or larvae into your home on your shoes, even if you generally try to be as careful as possible with your pup.
Wormers can vary depending on the active substances they contain and for this reason, they also differ in terms of the effectiveness they have on particular parasites.
The second dose of the medication also needs to be administered differently depending on the types of parasites that your canine friend has been diagnosed to have during a routine exam.
For instance, roundworms might call for a second dose 7-10 days after the first one, while tapeworms might call for a second dose after 12-14 days. Talk to your vet to make sure you’re giving your dog their deworming medication correctly.
Dental care is extremely important both for people and for animals. If your pet’s oral health is really not good at all, they might develop additional conditions, some of which you might not have even thought about before.
For example, periodontal disease is often associated with cardiovascular conditions. So, unless you want your dog to have a shorter life span and an overall worse quality of life, too, you should make a habit out of brushing their teeth at least once every two days, if not once a day.
But even regular brushing can’t remove plaque and tartar as effectively as dental cleanings. Routine veterinary exams can allow you to be informed as to whether you should take your dog to dental cleanings once every six months or, if you’re lucky, at least once a year.
Annual Vet Care for Dogs
A wellness exam is particularly important for senior dogs, but it can be just as revealing for other age categories.
Every year, you should make sure that your dog is seen by a vet who has the knowledge and equipment to determine if there could be something undiagnosed in your pet’s body that could create problems down the line.
As for what you should expect, here are a few examples:
- A physical examination
- A complete blood count
- Blood and urine biochemistry
- An eye exam
- A hearing test
- A fecal culture
This is just basic diagnostic testing since if your pet is diagnosed with a condition, veterinary care could involve additional techniques.
An annual exam also involves giving your dog vaccines such as those that can protect them against Leptospirosis, Parvovirus, Canine Distemper, Rabies, Bordetella, and more.
What Additional Screenings Might Be Done Along With Routine Vet Care for Dogs Exams?
If the vet suspects that your dog might have a condition of any kind, whether it’s severe or not, they will recommend extra tests.
These could range from imaging techniques such as an MRI or a CT scan to more basic ones like an ultrasound or an X-ray.
If something is discovered inside your dog’s body cavities, a sample of the liquid that can be found there could be collected through a fine needle aspirate technique and the sample is then sent out to a lab for a cytology exam.
If the growth of any kind is discovered, your dog might have to undergo a biopsy.
If your pet is diagnosed to have an infection, the vet might recommend collecting a sample of the secretion (whether from the coughed material, their mouth, their eyes, their feces, their urine, an abscess, or anything else) so that a bacterial culture is performed, followed by an antibiogram.
While not all veterinarians recommend this procedure, antibiotic resistance is a reality even for pets, not just for humans.
Senior Dog Screenings
A pet can be considered a geriatric patient when they become older than 7 or 8. There are a lot of variables when it comes to you switching your wellness and vet checks routine as your pet becomes older – from how their health is in general to whether they start experiencing a bit of wear and tear in their joints, for example.
It also depends on the type of dog breed you own. Consequently, large and giant dog breeds can be considered seniors when they get to the age of 5 or 6.
Senior dogs are also more prone to developing chronic conditions such as inflammation in their internal organs. For this reason, they need to be seen by a vet at least twice a year – three would be better, actually.
The vaccination plan can largely depend on each individual veterinary practice or the country you are based in. In some locations, zoonoses like Leptospirosis are considered of utmost importance, so the vaccination plan will include shots against such diseases.
Generally, your puppy should be vaccinated for the first time when they reach the age of 6 to 8 weeks. If their mother was vaccinated, a puppy could have partial immunity against some infectious agents until they reach the age of 2 months maximum, but after that, they definitely need to get their shots.
Over the first 3-4 months of their life, your puppy will receive vaccines against Parvovirus, Distemper, Leptospirosis, Adenovirus 1 or Adenovirus 2 (Canine Infectious Hepatitis), and Parainfluenza. Once that plan is done, your vet will recommend a rabies shot.
Rabies is not as much of a risk to public health these days, especially since the majority of pet owners do vaccinate their dogs against this highly dangerous and life-threatening disease.
But since it’s one of the most misunderstood diseases even today, after so much research on it was performed, the rabies shot is one of the most important ones your dog should get both for their health and your own.
If your pup has a solid vaccination schedule, you could take them anywhere in the world with a passport and a microchip, and you wouldn’t encounter any issues whatsoever with border control or any other authorities.
What Else Can You Discuss During a Routine Exam?
Depending on whatever your vet diagnosed or your dog’s health, diet, and activity level, you might get some advice on changing your pet’s lifestyle, giving them medication, or switching up routines.
Whenever you bring your dog in for a routine exam, it is essential for you to provide as much data as possible – this is called anamnesis and can help the veterinarian very much when it comes to focusing on specific systems or organs of your dog’s body.
The anamnesis can also influence the tests that the vet recommends based on the symptoms that you have noticed.
In specific cases, such as whether the dog was previously diagnosed with epilepsy (a quite common occurrence, especially in brachycephalic breeds such as the French Bulldog), your vet will tell you that you should always shoot video whenever your pet has a seizure – this can help them diagnose the exact type of epilepsy and also help them choose the right medication.
Try to collect as much information about your dog as possible. Look at their general behavior, their gait, the way they interact with other animals, their feces, their frequency of feeding and watering, their urination, and a variety of such other factors.
If it’s time for your pet’s annual veterinary checkup, get in touch to book an appointment or to ask any questions you may have.