Annual health check

Is your pet due for his annual vet check? Here is a list of the eight things that your vet should look out for during a routine health examination.

1. You will be asked questions about your dog. So, it’s a good idea to keep notes about him, especially if you have any questions, or if your dog starts behaving or reacting differently. Keep notes about the following:

  • Medical history
  • Diet
  • Appetite behaviour
  • Drinking behaviour
  • Weight changes
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhoea
  • Range of motion
  • Scratching

Remember to take your dog’s vaccination card with you to the consultation.


2. During the examination, the vet will check your dog’s vital signs – this will give them an indication of whether your dog is well, or not. Typically, your vet will check your dog’s:

  • Temperature
  • Pulse
  • Respiration rate
  • Weight


3.  Your vet will also physically examine your dog and, in particular, assess the following:

  • Abdomen
  • Legs
  • Feet
  • Joints
  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Lymph nodes
  • Mouth

A stethoscope will be used to check your dog’s lung and heart function.


4.  Your vet will also ensure that your dog’s routine vaccinations, deworming and external parasite control are up to date.


5. Depending on the age and condition of your dog, your vet may advice diagnostic screening. This may include:

  • Complete blood counts
  • Biochemistry
  • Urinalysis
  • Faecal flotations for worm detection or abdominal issues
  • Full body x-rays


6. The objective of an annual wellness examination is the maintenance of optimal health. Early detection and diagnosis enable your vet to institute proper early treatment or preventative care for your dog, should a disease or condition be picked up during the check-up.


7.  Your vet should also discuss a few topics with you. This information will also help them assess the health of your dog. Keep a record of this information, where possible, throughout the year. The topics include:

  • Nutrition
  • Skin and coat care
  • Joint health
  • Weight management
  • Dental care


8.  Your vet will also observe the following:

  • How your dog stands and walks.
  • Whether your dog is bright and alert.
  • Your dog’s general body condition.
  • The state of your dog’s coat and skin.



Keep in mind that your dog can’t speak and, therefore, can’t tell the vet if he has any pain or discomfort. But, if you spend time with your dog and take good care of him, you will notice if something is different about him. If you think that your dog is ill, you need to take him to the vet as soon as possible for treatment. If the vet can detect something during the early stages, they might be able to treat the problem. An annual health check is not negotiable – it’s a necessity for your dog!

By Dr Letitia Swartz



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