Dog health checks and preventative care2 December 2022
Written by Dr. David Tweedle, BVetMed MRCVS Clinical Director
Reviewed by Dr Jill McMaster BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon and in-house expert at BorrowMyDoggy on 6 Jun 2023
Dr Dave Tweedle of My Family Pet and Natures Vet in Somerset discusses why regular vet visits are so important, even when your dog is in good health…
“Think about the dentist. We all hate going, but we do it anyway. We finish our appointment and – even if all is well – we book up to see them again in 6 months’ time. This is standard practice; we seem to just understand that having our teeth checked over regularly, even when we’re healthy, is the sensible thing to do.
The same process should apply to dogs and their veterinary care. Prevention is better, less painful and often less expensive than cure. Put simply: preventative health checks are a great idea.
Spotting symptoms early on
You can also think of a preventative health check as an MOT for your dog. Dogs can’t tell us when they’re feeling poorly, and many conditions may be symptomless during their early stages.
By bringing your dog in for a health check, the vet has a chance to conduct a ‘nose to tail’ assessment of your pet. The result is a win-win scenario – you either know your pet is just as healthy as they seem, or you spot an underlying condition far earlier than if you’d waited for symptoms to appear.
What will a vet look out for during a health check?
A standard health check will include:
- Dental check-up
- Weight check and dietary advice
- A thorough look at your pet’s fur
- Eye checks
- Heartbeat and respiratory checks
- A temperature check
- A check of the genitals
- Joint and movement checks
You’ll also be able to have a chat with a professional about your dog. Any behavioural habits you’ve noticed and haven’t thought much in to? Now is the time to discuss it!
A good relationship with your vet
It’s not just about good physical health. By bringing your dog to the vets regularly (most vets will recommend 2 health checks a year), you’ll get them used to the vets; they may even come to think of it positively!
The more you see your vet, the stronger the bond between you, them and your furry friend will likely become. You’ll feel more comfortable asking questions, and generally adopt a more hands-on approach to your dog’s health.
So – what are you waiting for?
Approach it from the ‘better safe than sorry’ angle. Because it is – preventative health care is what we vets like to call the gold standard of pet ownership. It might seem like a fuss, or your dog might prefer to stay at home, but they’d almost certainly thank you for it in the long run (if they could).”
Kathleen Pohl from Zetland Vets in Bristol gives her advice on tip-top pet ownership.
Start with the big things – get their vaccines booked in early!
Save yourself the headache… book it well in advance! That way, if you need to make childcare arrangements or re-schedule your work meetings or other commitments, you have plenty of time to do so… and you won’t miss your dog’s appointment.
Vaccinations are crucial to keeping dogs protected against diseases like Parvovirus, Leptospirosis, Distemper, Hepatitis and Kennel Cough. It’s important for their level of protection to stay up to date at all times.
If you’re feeling super organised, why not end your dog’s vaccination appointment by booking in their next one for 1 year’s time?
Preventative health checks
Another great habit to get into is to bring your dog into the vets for a routine health check, ideally every 6 months. Think of it as an equivalent to human dentist check-ups or eye tests – even if nothing appears to be wrong, it’s nice to have your mind set at ease by a professional.
Plus, if something is wrong, 9 out of 10 conditions are easier to treat when they’re spotted early. So it’s well worth bringing your pet in, even if you don’t have any worries.
Every month – flea and worm treatment
When it comes to the small monthly, weekly and even daily tasks, it’s really handy to create a routine.
Dogs need flea and worming treatments every month; this not only keeps them free of itching and irritation, it also protects them from the secondary infections and diseases that parasites can spread.
Whether you put it on the calendar or set yourself a reminder on your phone, aim for your dog to get their treatment on the same day of each month. Something memorable, such as the first or last day of the month, usually helps.
Grooming and maintenance
Daily tasks like grooming your dog’s coat and brushing their teeth are far more likely to get done if you nominate a particular point in the day for them.
Top tip: brushing your dog’s coat or cleaning their teeth are great activities to do while watching TV. Also, the more often you do it, the less time each session will take – and the more used to it your dog will become!
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