Annual Exam, Care, and Vaccine Recommendations for Young Dogs 1-6 years old
For most breeds of dogs, this is an age of prime health and activity, but as you know, dogs age quickly and each year is roughly equivalent to 7 years of human aging. So, it's important to check for problems, infections, joint injuries, oral health, heart disease, and skin health on a regular ... at least yearly, ideally twice yearly ... basis.
Here's what we recommend once a year:
Twice yearly wellness exams. We go over gums, teeth, eyes, ears, lymph nodes, heart and lung sounds, abdominal palpation, spinal palpation, joint palpation, genitals, anus, and urethral openings. We'll look closely at skin problems. We'll discuss your pet's nutritional needs, weight problems, shedding problems, and so forth.
During the midyear wellness exam, (just $15, by the way) we go over every thing again, use the time to discuss any concerns, and give a repeat booster for leptospirosis if needed, treat for worms, and follow up with a fecal test .
Rabies vaccination. In South Carolina, we veterinarians can use our descretion to vaccinate with either a 1 year or 3 year rabies vaccine. Giving the vaccine yearly gives better protection, and of course, giving the vaccine every 3 years is more convenient and less expensive.
We recommend the 1 year vaccine for the 1st and 2nd year of life. Also for those field dogs at high risk of getting bitten.
We recommend the 3 year rabies vaccine for most dogs over 2 years old. Studies indicate that this vaccine gives high levels of protection in most dogs once they've had a couple of previous boosters.
1 year vaccine for rabies: $12 3 year vaccine for rabies: $18
Vaccinations for Parvo, Distemper, Hepatitis, and Flu. For most dogs we should do this yearly. $16-18
Vaccination for Leptospirosis. Lepto is contagious to humans and is spread by the urine of wildlife. Lepto is a bacterial infection... not a virus. This is significant because bacterial vaccines tend not to give long duration of protection. We recommend the vaccine twice yearly in most dogs. It's included at no charge during the yearly wellness exam. During the midyear wellness exam: $14
I like to deworm most pets every 6 months in addition to what ever other worm control products you're using such as Revolution and other heartworm preventives. Keeping worms under control is a constant battle and deworming is very inexpensive: $5-8
Heartworm Screen if you haven't been good about giving heartworm preventive on a regular basis. This is a common and often deadly disease. We recommend doing a screening test for this disease if it's been more than 3 months since you last gave heartworm prevention: $18
Speaking of heartworms, consider using ProHeart instead of once a month heartworm prevention tablet. It's an injection that lasts 6 months and costs about the same as the least expensive 6 pack of tablets. Click here to read about the different heartworm products available.
We'll discuss and treat any problems we detect at this exam
We'll also be glad to trim nails, clean ears and so forth.
Refill Heartworm preventive, get some TD teeth cleaning treats and/or enzymatic dental gels, and flea control if needed.
And, of course, we'll take great delight in seeing you and your pet.
For Middle age and Older Dogs: Exam and Vaccine Recommendations
As dogs get older, they may not need to be vaccinated as often, but they certainly need to be examined at least once a year. And the new standard for ideal veterinary care is twice yearly.
Starting at about 7 years of age for most breeds, we routinely detect the following problems on yearly or midyear examinations:
Dental and gum disease is very common and should not be neglected!
Cataracts and many other eye problems
Heart Disease (the number 2 killer of older dogs in this age group)
Masses and Cancers
Knee ligament injuries
Infections of one sort or another
And on and on
These problems are so common in middle and older age, I can almost guarantee you I can find at least one problem that would benefit from some attention. And the way we find these problems early enough to allow effective treatment is by looking carefully, by looking twice yearly, and by testing.
So here's what I recommend:
Yearly; A good exam to check gums, teeth, eyes, ears, spine, and skin. Joint manipulation, range of motion, and abdominal palpation.
Our goal here is to identify problems that if treated in the early stages will prevent future major trouble and to make your pet comfortable.
We may recommend a urinalysis, blood work, a fecal examination, and/or radiographs ... all depending on the individual patient. and on what we find during the exam.
Vaccinations: Rabies vaccine every 3 years. DHLP-Parvo once a year for most dogs.
Mid Year: For regular patients, we offer an inexpensive mid-year wellness exam. We'll email you or send a post card to remind you of this visit, and each year we'll recommend a routine screening test appropriate for middle age dogs in general and certainly any test that would be appropriate for your dog's specific problems. We also recommend a lepto vaccine booster for most dogs, deworming, and a fecal check.
For Really Old Dogs
A good exam every 6-12 months. We'll check carefully for all the problems of old age and discuss what we can do to help.
Vaccines: we often skip vaccines for very old pets.
Preventive medicine: We may recommend laboratory testing or radiographs in an attempt to detect hidden problems
Palliative care: we have a large arsenal of medications, diets, and supplements that can make old dogs more mobile, continent, and comfortable.