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An Ounce of Prevention: Why Your Dog Needs an Annual Veterinarian Checkup

An Ounce of Prevention: Why Your Dog Needs an Annual Veterinarian Checkup

Why your dog needs an annual veterinarian checkup.

We all love our furry friends. And we want to keep them as healthy and happy as possible. That’s why an annual vet checkup is so important. At an annual checkup, your veterinarian will examine your dog tip to tail to make sure he is in top form—and address any possible concerns early on. In addition to providing any necessary shots and tests, here is what a vet is likely to check during an annual exam:


  1. Eyes — for redness, jaundice, discharge or cloudiness that could be signs of glaucoma, cataracts, infection and other problems.
  2. Ears — for discharge or foul odors which could signify infection or other ear problems.
  3. Mouth and teeth — for signs of tartar build-up and inflamed or infected gums.
  4. Belly — for enlarged abdominal organs, including the bladder, kidneys, liver, spleen and stomach.
  5. Skin — for lumps and bumps, excessive oiliness or dryness, and abnormal thickening of the skin.
  6. Coat — for ticks, mites or fleas, and for signs of dandruff, excessive shedding or abnormal hair loss. 
  7. Joints/bones — for signs of pain or tenderness that can indicate arthritis or other joint problems.
  8. Heart and lungs — for possible respiratory or heart conditions.
  9. Overall body — for muscle tone and proper weight.
  10. Lymph nodes — for swelling or pain.

Your vet will also perform a heartworm test. An annual heartworm test is required in order for your dog to take heartworm preventive medication. Your veterinarian may also want to test your dog’s stool for internal parasites, such as roundworm and hookworm.

Vaccinations may be due. It’s important that your dog be seen by a veterinarian for routine vaccinations and boosters for distemper, adenovirus-2, parvo and rabies. If you are planning to board your dog in the near future, it’s also important for your dog to receive a Bordetella virus to avoid kennel cough. In fact, most kennels won’t accept your dog without proof that he has received this vaccine.

Wellness screening tests. Some veterinarians recommend a battery of “wellness tests” that typically fall into 4 main categories: CBC (complete blood count), biochemistry profile, urinalysis and thyroid hormone testing. This is more important in middle-age dogs and those over 7 years. Additional screenings for mature dogs might also include testing for diabetes and kidney disease.

Remember, pets can’t tell us how they feel. This makes it even more important to keep those annual appointments. Unless our pets show distinct signs of being ill, we can’t really tell what’s going on with them inside.

Considering all the love our dogs give us—without asking anything in return—let’s show our love for them with an annual veterinarian checkup! It’s the best way there is to help assure that we get to spend many healthy years with our best friends.

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