Taking Your Dog to the Vet for the Annual Health Check

Dr Amelia Bunker, Resident Veterinarian - Knose Pet Insurance

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Dr. Amelia Bunker

Dr. Amelia Bunker (BVSc), our resident veterinarian at Knose, blends her passion for animal care with her expertise in veterinary science. Her journey from mixed practice clinics to insurance expert motivates her dedication to animal welfare, both in her professional role and as a pet owner.

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Pet dogs are an important part of the family. But unlike your children or your siblings, they cannot tell you when they don’t feel good. It is up to you to take care of your pet’s health. 

Preventive care takes a proactive approach to your dog’s health care, but sometimes, knowing what is best for your pooch is not easy.

Pet care is complex, especially for new dog owners. Sometimes, it’s hard to follow the right plan and know what your dog needs next. Sometimes it gets expensive, and the expense means things get left undone. 

Annual vet visits for dogs are an important part of your dog’s overall healthcare, but it’s easy to forget to have these visits. 

Here’s a closer look at why it is so important for your pet to have the right preventive care and how it gives you peace of mind.

Annual Dog Checkups: Why Are They Important?

Your dog should visit the vet at least once per year. These annual checkups are very important for a number of reasons. 

Dogs Age More Quickly Than Humans

The old adage that every year of human life equals seven years in a dog’s life is not quite accurate, but dogs do age much more quickly than humans. 

The first year of a dog’s life is equal to about the first 15 years of a human life. In year two, the dog develops about as much as a human does in nine years. After that, each year equals about five years of ageing for a dog. 

So, by the time a dog is ten years old, he is more like a 60-year-old adult than a 10-year-old child.

So why does that mean annual vet visits for dogs are important? If a dog is going through that much change in just one year, you need to give your vet the chance to check things over and ensure your dog is as healthy as possible.

Preventive Health Care

An annual visit to the vet gives the vet the chance to recommend preventive health care measures. This will help your dog live as long and as well as possible. Everything from dental care to joint health is important as your dog ages.

Create Positive Memories for Your Dog

Many dogs are fearful at the vet, and that’s not surprising. If you only visit the vet when your dog is sick or hurt, he will begin to associate the location with negative experiences. 

When you go to the vet when there’s nothing wrong for an annual visit and use much positive reinforcement while you are there, your dog will start associating the vet with more positive memories. This will make it easier to go when something is wrong.

Your Dog’s Health Check: What to Expect in the Vet’s Clinic

First, your dog’s vet will ask a number of questions. You can expect questions about:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Water consumption/thirst
  • Behaviour and habits
  • Bowel movements
  • Overall lifestyle, including whether the dog spends much time outdoors
  • General health

After collecting that information, the vet will perform a physical examination, looking at the joints, eyes, ears, teeth, skin, coat, and other areas of the dog for signs of any health problems.

Then your vet will make recommendations. The most important is the vaccinations that your pet needs. Vaccinations keep your pet from contracting dangerous, potentially fatal diseases, like parvovirus. 

Most vets will also recommend products for flea and tick prevention or other parasite control measures. If your pet has a weight management or dental care need, your vet will recommend the steps to take to help. Skin and coat care are also covered.

Many vets will take the time to walk you through lifestyle recommendations that will help your pet live a healthier life. This is valuable information that can help you prevent future medical problems that would lead to costly bills. 

Average Cost of a Canine Health Check

One of the reasons many dog owners skip their annual canine health check is the cost. While these visits are important, they are costly. The cost will depend on what services and products you purchase, but according to ASIC’s MoneySmart, you can expect to pay these averages for your dog each year:

  • Vet care: $397
  • Health products: $248
  • Grooming: $129

Clearly, that is a large chunk of money. One of the ways you can help reduce this cost is with a pet wellness plan. A pet wellness plan makes it easier than ever to care for your dog and you get better value. It includes an annual vet visit with dental checks, vaccinations, testing, and professional recommendations. 

What You Can Do to Prepare Your Dog for the Annual Exam

Once you understand the benefits, skipping the annual vet exam is not something you’ll want to do. As the day of your visit gets closer, you can do some things to help your dog get ready.

On the day of your visit, play with your dog or take a walk before heading to the vet. This will help your dog burn off energy. After all, a tired dog is a good dog.

If you can, put your dog in a carrier. If not, make sure you have a sturdy leash. You will want to keep your dog contained during your time in the waiting room. Once you arrive, pet your dog and talk softly to help him stay calm, even though the other animals around may excite him.

When you get in the room, keep your hands on your dog to help calm him. Even though the vet and staff are knowledgeable at how to hold a nervous dog, your presence will have a calming effect.

The main goal is to make the vet a fun and happy place to visit. Along with tips for “on the day of the visit” above, it is a good idea to take your dog to the vet during the year to just pop into the waiting room, maybe place the dog on the scales to check their weight and then walk out again. They will most likely get a treat from the vet nurses for coming in. This way they will associate the vet with a positive experience. Finally, be considerate of the vet’s time. If you need more time for your questions, let them know when you book the appointment so they can set aside an appropriate amount of time for your appointment.

Love Them from the Nose to the Tail

Getting a wellness plan for your dog makes it easy to keep your pet healthy and happy. We provide individualised pet wellness plans to mitigate certain emergencies. They are tailored by your vet for your pet’s needs and give you some peace of mind.  Ask your vet about Knose Wellness Plans today! 

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