All dogs, even those that seem perfectly healthy, should be seen by a veterinarian at least once a year. The American Veterinary Association recommends it!
But why does a perfectly healthy dog need to see the vet annually? Let’s talk about the (many) good reasons.
The General Exam
It’s important for your dog’s health to be considered comprehensively, not just one issue at a time. A comprehensive exam with an experienced veterinarian means you can be sure all your dog’s systems are working the way they’re supposed to.
During an exam, your veterinarian will take your dog’s temperature and fully examine their eyes, ears, nose, skin, teeth, nails and fur for signs of illness. Just as importantly, they’ll get your dog on the scale! Nearly half of all American dogs are overweight or obese, and keeping weight in check is important for staving off arthritis, diabetes, and other complications.
Vaccines and Boosters
Core vaccines for dogs are designed specifically to protect against respiratory and gastrointestinal viruses. Core vaccines for dogs include canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies (1 year). There are several optional lifestyle vaccines available you may want to discuss with your vet including Lepto, parainfluenza, Bordetella, and even a rattlesnake vaccine.
Your dog’s behavioral patterns can tell your veterinarian a lot about their overall health. Behavioral issues can often be one of the first signs of illness in pets. Unusual behaviors are sometimes the best way your dog knows how to communicate what’s going on internally.
Behavioral issues can be really unpleasant to live with for both you and your dog. By bringing them up with your vet, you may be able to identify burgeoning health issues or even identify new treatment options you hadn’t considered.
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Early detection is key to successfully treating almost all canine diseases. An annual fecal diagnostic test checks for heartworm, roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm, giardia, and coccidia, all of which your dog can have without presenting any symptoms. Many of these parasites can also be passed on to humans! The diagnostic results will also tell us about kidney, liver, and immune system function and also screen for diabetes.
Ear Cleaning & Nail Clipping
Ear cleaning and nail trims aren’t just spa treatments! Regular ear cleanings remove debris that can cause staph infections, Pseudomonas, yeast infections, and even dangerous MRSA. Untrimmed nails can grow into your dog’s paws, cause gait imbalances that lead to arthritis, and even exacerbate neurological conditions.
How long has it been since your dog’s been examined?