When life gets busy we tend to push some things aside. You may look at your furry friend and wonder when you last took them to the vet but eventually forget about it because your pet looks or seems fine. However, just like people, check ups become more important as your pet ages in order to monitor conditions that could exacerbate when your pet gets older. Even though your dog may appear healthy, they may be sick or develop issues without you even realizing it. The top five reasons why you should take your dog to the veterinarian every six months include general health, aging, vaccinations, dental care, and weight and body condition.
Regular veterinary visits can help prevent emergencies from developing, many of which can be expensive, debilitating, stressful, and painful. These regular visits play a huge part in disease prevention for long term care. Regular visits will also help your dog become more sociable and comfortable with the veterinarian when an emergency does arise. Having a positive experience will break the idea that the vet clinic is a scary place.
Age matters: Did you know that for every year your dog celebrates it’s birthday they actually age by seven years? That’s right! Canines age approximately seven years to one human year. As with all of us, dogs tend to get a few more aches and pains as they get older. This is nothing to worry about. In fact, it means your vet will be keeping a closer eye on your beloved pet to ensure optimal health. Take this chance to discuss your dogs activity levels, food and water intake, and any other concerns you may have with your veterinarian. Vaccinations and wellness visits become especially important with older canines.
Vaccinations are not only a good preventative measure to take, they are required by law in most states. Like humans, our pets must be up-to-date on vaccines to live a long and healthy life. With that said, allergic reactions happen. If your pet develops an adverse reaction to any vaccine, your veterinarian will discuss other options that keep your pet healthy and safe and have you covered under your state’s laws. Not only do these vaccinations help keep your pet safe, it keeps other pets safe from catching or spreading any illness or highly contagious disease. There are two vaccination types, core and non core. Core vaccines are recommended for all pets of all lifestyles and stages to protect against diseases that pose a high threat level to your pets’ life. For dogs, these include rabies, distemper, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and adenovirus. Non core vaccines are typically optional but still highly recommended in consideration of your pets exposure risk to the disease(s). These vaccines include bordetella, leptospira spp, canine influenza virus, and canine parainfluenza virus. Be sure to address any questions or concerns about any vaccines with your veterinarian.
Once again, we see another correlation between our furry friends and us when it comes to dental health. Brushing your puppy’s teeth at an early age can help make the process easier as they grow up. Ideally you should aim to brush your dog's teeth daily, just like you would do your own. Dental care is particularly important in older dogs because dental disease will not only cause pain but could cause problems with their internal organs. Dental checks are also a good time to discuss with your veterinarian your dogs teeth cleaning routine at home. Things to lookout for include plaque and tartar build up and periodontal disease. Plaque is a sticky and colorless film that collects on the outside of the teeth. If left alone, it can harden and form tartar. Tartar and calculus build up can irritate your dogs gums which could cause gingivitis, a swelling and reddening of the gums. Periodontal disease occurs when tartar buildup moves underneath your dog's gum line. Contact your veterinarian if you start noticing a foul odor on your dog's breath to rule out any chance of periodontal disease.
Weight and body condition is a concern that tends to get over looked from time to time. There are many reasons that a dog can be over or underweight from disease, exercise level, diet and even age. Canines who are overnourished run the risk of becoming obese. Obesity can cause several adverse health conditions on the digestive organs, respiratory system, and joints and can also reduce your pets lifespan. With undernourishment you will notice the canine looking frail, have low energy, and dry or coarse fur. Be sure to take the opportunity to weigh your dog at their appointments as often as you can to keep a close eye on their body condition. It is not the end of the world if your dog starts to gain some weight because here are plenty of ways you can help you pet. Work with your veterinarian on a new diet and exercise plans that works with your schedule and budget. If you notice that your dog is starting to lose weight and is no longer eating, take them in for a checkup to make sure everything is okay. It may be a simple fix like replacing your dog's food or it could be an underlying health problem.
Keeping your dog up to date on vaccines will help ensure their overall health. Be sure that your dog is receiving monthly heartworm prevention along with flea and tick prevention medications. If you have not been to a clinic in the last 12 months, please call and set up an appointment today for a check-up. It is crucial to take your dog to the veterinarian at least once a year and more frequently as they get older. With regular check-ups and their usual dose of TLC from you, your dog should live a long, fulfilling, and happy life with you!