Wellness Care for Your Adult Dog


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Last Updated on October 29, 2020 by Aimee

Wellness Care for Your Adult Dog She’s finished that seemingly endless series of puppy vaccinations and dewormings, she’s free to go to the dog park and you worry less about communicable disease, but is your adult dog home-free when it comes to veterinary care? Far from it! While the adult years tend to be the healthiest for most dogs-they have a fully mature immune system and haven’t yet experienced senior year ailments-it’s not a time for your veterinarian to become a stranger. Adult dogs still need regular check-ups, vaccinations, and proper health care.

Adult Dog Vaccinations

While not nearly as frequent or intense as that series of puppy shots, adult dogs should still receive regular vaccinations. The exact schedule will depend on your dog’s lifestyle, where you live, and your veterinarian’s preference. However, all adult dogs should receive at least the core vaccines of distemper, hepatitis, parovirus and rabies every three years. If your dog travels frequently, is groomed or boarded, or enjoys the great outdoors, you’ll want to vaccinate against a few other bad bugs as well. Vaccinating against kennel cough is important for dogs that are groomed, boarded, shown, or basically in contact with lots of other dogs in small spaces. Depending on where you live you may want to vaccinate against Lyme and Leptospirosis. And for those truly adventurous types, even rattlesnake bites. The frequency of these vaccinations, again, will depend on your location, lifestyle, and rules and regulations.

Parasites – Both Inside and Out

Our adult pups aren’t immune to parasites-if only! While we usually don’t see quite the crop of internal parasites in adults that we do in puppies, they’re definitely there. These numbers can increase due to lifestyle, the more outdoors and in contact with other critters your dog is, the more likely to have parasites. Regular dewormings should be a part of your yearly schedule at least, but some dogs may benefit from a more frequent application.

For some dogs, a year-round flea and tick medication is in order. Depending on the product that you use, it may also take care of internal parasites and heartworms, besides preventing diseases that those nasty fleas and ticks can transmit. You’ve already heard this a few times, but your dog’s lifestyle and your location are key in choosing one of these products.

Bloodwork-Is It Necessary?

Absolutely! Something that is frequently missed in the veterinary care of adult dogs is a healthy dog blood panel. This is simply running some general blood screenings when your dog is perfectly healthy, instead of waiting until they’re sick with something. These healthy dog panels help give us a baseline for your pup that can be compared against if your dog should ever need bloodwork for an illness. You may be wondering why this is important, well, every dog is different and so every dog’s normal blood values differ as well. Maybe your dog is always a little on the sweet side and has a high end of normal blood glucose. That’s important to know when your pup is ill one day and shows up with extremely low blood glucose numbers.

Performing bloodwork is also important before any procedure that requires anesthesia. Even though today’s anesthetics are very safe, the health status of the patient can always affect how the drugs do their stuff. This means if your dog is going in for a routine dental, always request pre-anesthetic bloodwork.

Doggy Dental Care

Since I just brought up dentals, make sure your adult dog has regular dental check-ups. As your dog gets older, they start to lose that pearly whiteness of puppy teeth and really pack on the plaque and tartar. If left to its own devices, that plaque and tartar can lead to nasty breath, red, bleeding gums, and even loose teeth. Have your pup’s teeth checked at least every six months and have dental cleanings performed as necessary.

Regular Veterinary Visits

Just because your adult dog appears to be in tip-top shape doesn’t mean they’re immune to veterinary visits. Your best friend should still see the vet at least once a year, preferably twice.

These visits are important to keep up-to-date on vaccinations, check teeth and examine and discuss any changes that you or your vet may notice. Lumps and bumps, appetite or behavior changes, weight loss or gain are all fair game at these visits and if addressed early can help prevent major issues later on in your dog’s life.

Other Issues to Watch Out For

Common doggy problems that can arise in adulthood include all of the above and everyone’s favorite-allergies. Most allergies show themselves as your dog leaves puppyhood behind. These allergies typically show up as skin itchiness, rashes, ear infections, or vomiting and diarrhea. Allergies can be trouble to treat, so it’s best to catch them early on.

Wellness Care for Your Adult Dog: Beagle scratching in the grass

There are also a number of hereditary diseases that can show up in adult dogs. Diseases that affect the eyes, nerves, urinary tract, muscles and bones, or the digestive system are all possible. While the list may be long, the incidence is still fairly rare, but if you notice anything out of the ordinary with your adult dog, see your veterinarian.

Most of us would consider cancer a disease of older pups and that’s more commonly the case. But there are some cancers that are more prevalent in adulthood. Lymphoma would be number one of these types of cancers. Lymphoma can be tricky because it can affect many different parts of the body, so there are no set guidelines for symptoms. Again, anything out of the ordinary should be reported to your veterinarian.

Even though adult dogs have gained a little more common sense and wisdom than their puppy counterparts, they are in no way resistant to getting into accidents. Dog fights, hit-by-cars, sports-related injuries, broken bones, and lacerations are all part of the game. To help prevent any of these from happening, always keep a close eye on your pup when you’re out and about or make sure they have a safe area of confinement.

Wellness Care for Your Adult Dog: Small dog with yellow cast on his leg

A happy, healthy adult dog still needs to be friends with their veterinarian. In fact, the healthier of an adult they are, the healthier senior they will be. Just knowing and paying attention to your pup will be the greatest help to you in doing this and to ensuring that they will reach those later years in the best shape possible.

yellow lab with female veterinarian

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