The most important reason to develop a good relationship with your veterinarian and visit him regularly is to catch any serious illness, especially cancer, early. The sooner treatment is started for any serious illness the better your chances of a positive outcome.
Dogs, in particular, age much faster than we do so health issues can creep up very quickly. An annual checkup is recommended and more frequently for senior dogs as 50 per cent of dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer.
Veterinarians know that they can better care for your pet if you take an active role in ensuring the health and wellness of your companion. It’s up to you to take your pet to the vet regularly and follow any prescribed care at home. Also, understanding what you can expect from a routine vet exam will help you better communicate any changes or issues you notice with your pet’s overall physical and emotional well-being.
Here is what you can expect your vet to look for during a routine annual checkup:
- Up to date vaccinations.
- Intestinal parasites, fleas and ticks; ears and eyes for any discharge, redness or itching; legs and paws for any signs of weakness or limping; and skin and coat for signs of excessive shedding, pigment changes, lumps and bumps and itchy spots.
- Look at teeth and gums for any signs of dental disease.
- If your pet is getting adequate nutrition. Tell your vet what you feed your pet, which nutritional supplements, if any, you give to your pet and if you notice any changes in their appetite and water consumption.
- If your pet is getting enough exercise. Tell your vet how much exercise your pet gets and if you notice any changes in your pet’s activity level or ability to exercise.
- Tell your vet if your pet has been having any gastrointestinal trouble such as vomiting, diarrhea, or abnormal stools.
- How is your pet’s breathing: coughing, shortness of breath or sneezing often.
- Does your pet have any behavioural problems such as destructive chewing, aggression or separation anxiety.
- Blood work may be required if any health concerns are suspected.
- Your vet may address special concerns with seniors or puppies.
—Source: PetEducation.com: Annual veterinary exams and preventive health care for dogs by Drs. Foster and Smith, Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department.