Regular visits to the vet can significantly improve the early diagnosis and treatment of issues which may impact on your dog’s health.
There’s a commonly held belief that one year in a dog’s life is equivalent to seven years of yours. That isn’t exactly accurate, but it’s true that your dog does age faster than you do. This means that age related diseases may develop before you expect them, and take you by surprise.
With recent changes to the vaccination schedule for dogs, you no longer need to have your dog immunised every year. You may think that this means you can skip the annual vet visit too. That’s not a good idea. To keep your canine best friend healthy and prevent illness, you still need to schedule regular health checks with his veterinarian.
There are several benefits to having your dog looked at by your vet on a regular basis.
EARLY DISEASE DETECTION
Your dog will undergo a thorough physical examination which may detect early signs of a potentially serious illness. Sometimes you barely even notice these signs, but your vet will pick up the clues while you are chatting.
It might not mean anything to you if your canine senior citizen starts to spend more time drinking at his water bowl. To your vet, however, that can suggest that he may be developing diabetes, and they will recommend blood tests to check. If tartar is accumulating on his teeth and his gums are a little red, your vet will treat him before his mouth becomes too painful or he starts to lose his teeth.
If there are indicators that your dog is in the early stages of an illness, then treatment can be started earlier and this is usually associated with a better outcome for your dog. Sometimes treatment is as simple as a change in diet; for example there are specific foods that can slow the progression of kidney disease, joint disease and canine dementia.
PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN A CURE
Your vet can help you to put together a preventative health care plan for your dog for the next 6-12 months so he doesn’t become ill with a disease that could have been avoided. You can discuss with them which vaccines he needs and how often, and which is the best product to control heartworm, fleas and intestinal worms. If your dog is on regular medication, it will give you the opportunity to talk about whether his dose needs adjusting or if there are alternative treatments that may be more suitable for him.
They will also check your dog’s weight and body condition. Sometimes the kilos creep on so slowly that you don’t notice him becoming generous around the middle. Obesity puts him at increased risk of developing arthritis, diabetes and respiratory disease. Your vet will quickly recognise that he is getting a bit heavy and will work out a food and exercise plan that will get his weight back to a healthy level.
KEEP BAD BEHAVIOUR IN CHECK
Often, behavioural problems in dogs are not thought to warrant a veterinary consultation unless they are particularly severe. However, you don’t need to put up with these problems because there is usually something that can be done to resolve them.
When you have a regular checkup, it gives you the perfect opportunity to talk about any such issues you’re having with your dog. Does he bark constantly, jump up on your visitors or does he become distressed when you leave him alone? Your vet can help you look after his emotional and mental health, as well as his physical well-being.
CARING FOR YOUR CANINE SENIOR CITIZEN
Senior dogs benefit from more frequent veterinary examinations, because like people, they can develop age related illnesses. Your veterinarian may recommend some screening blood tests at your regular visits, just to keep an eye on your dog’s kidneys and liver.
Canine cognitive dysfunction, or dementia, is a subtle condition that can cause huge disruptions to your household. Affected dogs may pace the floor at night, whine a lot and forget where they should go to the toilet. There are things that can be done to reduce these symptoms and to allow life for you and your dog to return to normal.
REGULAR VET CHECKS MATTER
Whether you’re a new dog owner or you’ve shared most of your life with a canine companion, your vet is your partner in keeping your dog well. To give them the opportunity to do this to the best of their ability, they need to get to know your dog and to see him regularly. That way they will be quicker to recognise when something isn’t quite right, and will be able to treat it sooner.
Scheduling a regular checkup will build a relationship between you, your dog and your veterinarian that will result in your dog enjoying a long and healthy life.