Veterinary Visits and the Adult Dog

Although most owners realize the importance of maintaining annual health checks for their dogs, there are those who wait until an emergency happens to visit the veterinarian. In fact, there are reports of a steady decline in annual visits due to the rising costs and the option of utilizing three year vaccinations. Ensuring your dog’s optimal health is the key to helping him experience the best overall quality of life.

Head to Toe Examination

During your dog’s annual visit, your veterinarian will conduct a full examination, which includes a fair amount of poking and prodding. Usually a veterinarian tech will be assisting, but be prepared to help keep your dog calm, because he may become nervous during this thorough inspection.

Nose, Eyes, Ears, Lumps and Bumps

  • Your veterinarian will check your dog’s nose for any abnormal appearance, discharge or crustiness.
  • Eyes are examined for any redness, discharge, inflammation and unusual response to a scope light. Using this scope, your veterinarian can determine any issues with optic nerves, cataract development or retinal issues.
  • Ears are checked from the flaps to the canals and eardrums for any abnormal smells, redness, signs of infection, and ear mites, in addition to tumor or growth development.
Skin, Coat, Lumps and Bumps

  • Your veterinarian will look at your dog’s skin and coat to see if his skin is clean or flaky and greasy. His coat should appear shiny, rather than brittle and not have an odor.
  • Lumps and bumps can be common as most dogs’ age, but your veterinarian will want to examine new ones that have developed, as well as any that have grown larger or changed when touched. If your veterinarian is concerned, a biopsy may be recommended for further testing.

Mouth, Teeth and Gums

  • Depending on your dog’s comfort level, the veterinarian may be able to examine the teeth and gum conditions.
  • A look inside your dog’s mouth can reveal any possible issues with loose or broken teeth, infected gums or tumors.
  • Your veterinarian may recommend a dental cleaning, even if you are brushing his teeth, based on what is found during the exam.
Learn more about Royal Canin’s healthy Adult dog food.

Temperature, Urine Check and Stool Sample

Your dog’s body temperature can vary between 101 and 102.5 degrees. Any higher reading is considered unusual.
A urine specimen is sometimes ordered to test for abnormalities that can indicate possible illness or infection.
A stool sample, usually requested to be available at the time of your dog’s appointment, is tested and checked for any parasites.

Heart, Lungs and Abdomen

Your veterinarian will use a stethoscope to carefully listen to your dog’s heart and lungs to check for any abnormal sounds. Deviations may require follow up tests.
A close feel of your dog’s abdomen allows the veterinarian to examine organs for size and texture. Lumps can also be examined more closely for abnormalities or discomfort.

Legs, Joints and Paws

Watching how your dog moves and feeling his legs and joints can help determine any stiffness, pain or development issues. Usually a spinal examination is also performed.
Your veterinarian will look at paws, toenails and pads to make sure there are no hidden growths or injuries.

Questions to Ask the Veterinarian

As your veterinarian examines your dog, think about any health questions you would like to ask. If you forget to bring up a topic, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian after the appointment.

Nutrition

Your veterinarian may bring up questions about what types of food you are feeding your dog based on any issues with his teeth, skin or coat.
Ask your veterinarian if he has specific recommendations. Dog breed, age, activity, lifestyle and special needs can be important factors in choosing the best nutrition for your dog.

Activity Level

Adult dogs may not get as much daily exercise as they did during their puppy stage. Ask your veterinarian about what physical activities are best for your dog at his age, especially if there are any issues with mobility, such as arthritis.
This can be the perfect time for you and your dog to start a new exercise routine to keep you both healthy and active.

Weight Maintenance

During your dog’s examination, the veterinarian will notice his BCS – Body Condition Score, as well as his current weight.
Since more than half of the current dog population suffers from excessive weight gain, you and your veterinarian can work together to create the best plan for your dog. This can include changes in food, daily activities and treats.
Any unusual weight loss that is not related to trying to keep your dog healthy can be a sign of other issues that should also be discussed.

Schedule Routine Check-Ups

It is vital to your dog’s health that you maintain his routine wellness veterinarian visits. As your dog continues to age, any changes to his health will become more and more important to monitor. Create a comfortable dialog with your veterinarian, and together, you can help your dog make the most of every year.

Tips to Take Away

  • Routine veterinary check-ups are vital component to your dog’s overall health maintenance
  • You should feel comfortable engaging your veterinarian in dialogue about your dog’s overall health
  • Nutrition has a big impact on your dog’s health. Discuss what to feed your dog regularly as a dog’s needs change depending on age, lifestyle, activity level and breed.

Learn more about Royal Canin’s healthy Adult dog food.

Resources:

The Physical Exam: What to Expect at the Veterinarian's Office- PetMD

On the Importance of Annual Visits and the Philosophy of Disease- PetMD

Ten Easy Steps to a Full Physical Examination for Your Pet- PetMD

What You Get with That $50 Office Visit at the Vet's- PetMD

Vet Visits on the Decline... and What that Means for Pets- PetMD

The Cost of a Canine 'Oil Change' (Annual Exams for Pets Part 1)- PetMD

10 Questions Everyone Should Ask Their Veterinarian- PetMD

Canine Vaccination Series: Part 1- PetMD

Updated Canine Vaccine Guidelines Now Available- PetMD

The Anatomy of a Physical Exam: a Vet's Perspective- PetMD

Top 10 Ways to Promote Wellness in Dogs and Cats- Banfield Pet Hospital

Exercise and Its Role in Treating Overweight/Obesity- Banfield Pet Hospital

What to Expect at Your Pet's Nose-to-Tail Exam- Banfield Pet Hospital

Keep Your Senior Dog in Good Health- DogChannel.com

Establishing a Healthcare Regimen for Your Dog- DogChannel.com

Visiting a Vet- Animal Planet