Your pet: When it's time for a checkup


Puppies should get examined while they are getting their series of vaccines, often starting around seven to eight weeks of age, and finishing up at 16-20 weeks of age. Photo: TNS/Dreamstime

Spring – or midyear – is a great time of year to get your pet’s annual wellness exams done.

These exams are great to see if your pet gained (or lost) any weight over the past few months, discuss with your veterinarian the development of any medical or behavioral trends, and focus on keeping your dog as healthy as possible so you and your dog can enjoy the outdoors during summer and the rest of the year.

Now is also a great time of year for your dog to get up to date on their vaccines and to get medication to help protect them from those parasites such as worms, fleas and ticks that become more prevalent when the weather becomes warmer.

What is a wellness exam? A wellness examination is a routine medical examination or checkup of your dog who appears healthy as opposed to an examination of a dog who presents for illness or accidents.

Why are wellness exams important? Dogs can’t communicate their feelings and owners are often unaware of hidden or subtle changes occurring in their dogs, such as weight loss, dental disease or development of heart conditions and murmurs. A health condition may become advanced before a dog shows obvious signs that an owner recognises.

Regular wellness exams can help your veterinarian detect signs earlier so prompt medical attention can be focused to manage or correct a problem before it becomes severe enough to affect a dog’s quality of life.

Are wellness exams only necessary once a year? No. The frequency of wellness exams depends on a dog’s individual age and health status. Puppies should get examined while they are getting their series of vaccines, often starting around seven to eight weeks of age, and finishing up at 16-20 weeks of age. After that, if they are healthy, once a year should be sufficient unless any medical issues arise.

With an average adult dog, annual wellness exams are usually sufficient until they become senior or geriatric dogs. At that point, a wellness exam every six months is usually recommended.

The exact age when a dog becomes “senior” varies but is usually around seven to nine years of age, depending on the size and breed of dog. Large and giant breed dogs age more quickly than toy and small breed dogs.

Your veterinarian is in the best position to recommend how often your dog should have a wellness examination.Is there anything I need to do to prepare my dog for a wellness examination? Prepare yourself with some basic information, such as knowing the brand and type of food that your dog eats, any supplement you may be giving, and a list of questions or concerns that you have regarding your dog’s behaviour or health.

If your dog is a recent acquisition or adoption, bring in any past medical and vaccine records.

What will my veterinarian check during a wellness examination? Your veterinary clinic will usually request that you bring in a fresh sample of your dog’s faeces collected prior to the wellness examination. This sample will be processed and microscopically evaluated for the presence of parasite eggs. This is important for all dogs but especially important for puppies since many puppies have intestinal parasites. Faecal samples should also be brought in to your veterinarian if your dog is having bouts of loose stool or diarrhoea.

During a routine wellness examination, your veterinarian will get a history by asking you questions about your dog’s diet and appetite, exercise, how much they’re drinking, urinating, bowel movements, and if there have been any changes in your dog’s typical habits or behaviour.

Your veterinarian will then perform a thorough physical examination of your dog.

Based on your pet’s history and physical examination, your veterinarian will then make recommendations for specific preventive treatments.

In some dogs, especially older dogs, additional diagnostics may be recommended such as radiographs of the chest or abdomen to assess organ shape and size. – Tribune News Service/American Kennel Club/Dr Jerry Klein

For more information about responsible dog ownership, visit the AKC at

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Pets , dogs , dog health , annual checkup


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