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What to expect when you take your dog to the vet

When you take your dog to your veterinarian, you can expect a number of questions. This is so your vet can understand what has been happening with your pet and get a ‘history’. The vet will perform a physical examination of your dog, including a weight check, and may discuss some recommendations, diagnostics such as blood tests and treatment options, if appropriate.

Preventative care and regular check-ups are essential for dogs

We all want our pets to be healthy and happy. To achieve this our dogs need to see their vet regularly for routine check ups (at least twice each year is recommended) so any health problems can be identified early and quickly. Follow your vet’s advice regarding vaccination and parasite prevention, grooming, caring for their teeth (brushing is ideal) and feeding a suitable diet to optimise their health.

Benefits of regular veterinary examinations for dogs

Regular routine veterinary examinations help your vet detect and address any health concerns early, particularly health issues which do not present with signs that are easy to notice. In between the routine check ups, you should take your dog to see their vet promptly if you notice any changes in your dog’s health or behaviour and consider pet insurance to help you with the cost of unexpected illness or accidents.

How can I prepare for a vet visit with my dog?

Take a list with you of any questions and concerns and be sure to mention these when you book the appointment. The nurse or receptionist can then determine whether to book a longer appointment time.

If your pet has a complex health status, then it may be necessary for them to have more regular check ups and/or to revisit on more than one occasion. Ask beforehand how much it costs for a vet check-up. Extra diagnostic testing or treatment will be an additional cost.

If it has been a while since your pet visited the vet, or if it is your first visit with a particular vet, then expect that the appointment may take a little longer. It is helpful for you to provide the contact details of any previous vets and permission for your current vet to ask for the history to be sent over to see what treatments and diagnostic tests have been provided so far. This facilitates the best health care for your pet and can save you money. It is recommended to bring any medications for your dog along with you.

If your dog is stressed at vet visits, try these tips to help your dog stay calm when visiting the vet.

What does a physical examination of my dog involve?

Some vets start their physical examination of animals from a distance by looking at the animal’s gait (how they move), their behaviour and demeanour, before performing a systematic physical examination of your animal.

Many vets use a ‘nose-to-tail’ approach and will start at the dog’s nose, then check the gums and teeth, eyes, ears, skin and feeling over the body for lumps and bumps, checking the size of lymph nodes, listening to the heart and lungs, gently examining and palpating the abdomen, before taking the temperature. It is much appreciated if owners are quiet when the vet is listening with their stethoscope on.

Practical tips for general health maintenance

Being a responsible pet owner involves teamwork with your vet to keep your pet healthy. Always seek early treatment of any health problems and don’t delay as this could make things much worse for your beloved pet.

Helping your vet help your pet

Vets work hard in challenging conditions to help your pets stay healthy, please always treat your vet with respect and kindness so we can keep our vets happy too!

Ensure regular vet checks

Sharing our lives with dogs is a wonderful experience but does take time, expense and commitment. Regular vet checks are part of our duty as pet owners.

For help with managing the costs of emergency vet care for accidental illness and injury, consider RSPCA Pet Insurance. With RSPCA Pet Insurance, a portion of first-year premiums support the great work of the RSPCA.

Dr Catherine Tiplady bio image

Dr Catherine Tiplady

Dr Catherine Tiplady studied veterinary science at the University of Queensland. After graduation, Dr Catherine worked in veterinary practice whilst undertaking postgraduate research in Animal Welfare, gaining additional degrees in Bachelor of Applied Science (Animal Studies) (Hons 1) and a PhD. Dr Catherine has published widely in peer reviewed scientific journals and has also authored a book, ‘Animal Abuse: Helping Animals and People’. Currently working in small animal practice, Dr Catherine also has her own business performing gentle in-home pet euthanasia and provides veterinary care and desexing services for animal welfare charities. Dr Catherine brings her passion for animal welfare, love of writing and scientific training together to contribute quality content to RSPCA Pet Insurance’s Pet Care blog.