Vet Visits: Why They're Important - Kennel to Couch

As a dog owner, you spend every day with your pup and often don’t think to take them in to the Vet until something seems wrong. Vet visits are recommended once or twice a year. Wellness vet visits include a physical exam and routine vaccinations. Dog owners often scoff at this being a necessity as their dog appears to be perfectly healthy. “Why spend the money?” some may say. While it seems like a tedious chore to make a yearly visit to the Veterinarian, the trip is really worthwhile, and here’s why. Read on for a FREE coupon for a pet exam to Banfield Pet Hospital.

Physical Exams

The first thing a vet tech and veterinary doctor will do upon examining your pup is a physical exam.  Firstly, a vet who does not spend every day with your dog will provide an examination of the dog’s general appearance. They will observe the dog’s body condition, state of nutrition, attentiveness, reactions and responsiveness, posture, and gait.  The vet will be looking to see if your dog is “bright, alert, and responsive” this is called the “BAR” test. Allowing a doctor to observe these often subtle states can be an important way to ensure you haven’t missed any important signs of illness.

Next, the vet visit should include a physical exam of the dog’s body.  Upon arriving at the vet, pets are usually weighed on the scale to see whether they are maintaining a normal weight for their breed, or whether they may have suddenly lost or gained weight. Both of which can be concerning. The vet will listen to the dog’s heart to check for heart rate and murmurs. They will then check the dog’s mouth and teeth, looking at the gum color, tartar, or if there appear to be any abnormal growths in the mouth. Another important vet visit check is when the vet feels the dog’s lymph nodes. These indicate the dog’s immune strength as dogs with cancer often have enlarged nodes.

Generally, a vet will inspect the dog’s coat to see if it is healthy and shiny. They will want to ensure there are no fleas, ticks or other infestations. They will feel the dog’s muscle structure and tone as well as palpate the abdomen to ensure the dog doesn’t appear to have any pain or enlargement of the organs. Other physical checks include the ears and the eyes to check for ulcers or cataracts.

While we lovingly pet and snuggle our dogs often, we are often unaware of the signs that perhaps something is physically wrong with our pet. Making at least one visit to the vet annually can ensure we are keeping our pets on the right track in terms of health.


Prevention is key to health for both humans and dogs. Making a vet visit regularly is an important way to ensure you are aware of all the steps that can be taken to prevent health issues that may impact the dog’s life. A physical exam can bring to light various concerns that are not always apparent by the naked eye, but detectable by a professional who knows what they are looking for. Vet visits are the only way to discover that our pets may need preventative medications for an illness, that they are requiring supplements or a change in food.

Vets are also able to provide prescription medications that are not available over the counter at local pet shops. There are a variety of preventatives for fleas and ticks that are available via oral tablets to keep dogs protected during certain months of the year. These are often prescription only and a discussion at your next vet visit will surely help you determine which brand and dose is best for your dog. Vets can make informed recommendations based on the latest studies and research regarding pet foods, pet supplements, and health concerns.

Most importantly, vet visits are critical for dogs to receive their required rabies vaccinations. Some vaccines are good for a year while others last up to three. Dogs should be vaccinated between the age of 3 to 6 months, and will need a booster one year from that date. It is the only vaccination required by law in the United States, as rabies is a fatal disease. Rabies is a zoonotic disease, meaning it may be transmitted from animals to humans, and there is no cure. The vaccine is requires as it creates an immune system response to protect against rabies.

While not required, additional vaccines that are important include: DHPP, which protects against coronavirus, leptospirosis, bordetella, and lyme disease and Distemper, a contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal (GI), and nervous system. This can be spread among other animals too, not just dogs. Distemper is airborne and can be spread through sharing dog bowls or other equipment.

Blood Work

While it may not be explicitly necessary for young dogs, it is never a bad idea to get routine blood work done. Dogs age a lot more quickly than humans, and every year is seven dog years. Missing a yearly vet visit, can mean a lot of changes may occur in your dog’s quick lifespan. Running a profile on your dog’s blood helps uncover underlying medical problems that you and your veterinarian may not be aware of. This valuable tool provides insight into catching early illness and working to cure or prevent.

A vet visit blood panel will show you your dog’s blood count. If red blood cells are low, your pup could be anemic. With white blood cells, you would want them to be in a mid range as low or high can indicate infection or other concerns. A blood screening will also show you your dog’s organ profiles. You will want to make sure your dog has normal blood sugar to ensure they are not pre-diabetic. Low blood sugar can occur in dogs as well, however. You will want to ensure liver enzymes are normal, and that they have normal ranges of calcium, as certain cancers in dogs cause high calcium ranges, and this should be checked yearly, especially in an older dog. Cholesterol in dogs can also be checked. If these levels are high, your dog may have a thyroid issue.

While it may be a time and financial commitment to make annual vet visits, it is well worth the investment in your pet’s health. When looking to adopt a pet, you may be able to find resources that will assist you with your pet’s care. Kennel to Couch is a Pit Bull advocacy organization that partners with different organizations to provide resources free of cost to anyone who adopts through their organization. Advocacy organizations like Kennel to Couch (K2C)  provides families with the Pibble Package upon adoption. This package includes a training session and equipment from Sit Means Sit, a discount on pet insurance from Embrace Pet Insurance, and a check up at Banfield Pet Hospital. Click here for a FREE Pet Exam from Banfield.

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