K9sOverCoffee | Why Even Fit Dogs Need An Annual Wellness Screen

Why Even Fit Dogs Need An Annual Wellness Screen

If you’re lucky enough to have fit dogs in your life, you may not think that regular trips to the vet are unnecessary.

After all, why seek medical attention for a furry friend who seems perfectly fine?

Well, here’s the thing, even the healthiest dogs benefit immensely from an annual wellness screen at their vet’s office.

These routine check-ups ensure that your four-legged friend enjoys a long, happy, and disease-free life.

So in this blog post, we’ll delve into the comprehensive reasons why even the most robust and active dogs should undergo an annual wellness screen.

From early disease detection to preventive care and everything in between, we’ll explore how these routine check-ups contribute to your dog’s overall well-being and provide peace of mind for you as a responsible pet owner.

So let’s find out why those yearly vet visits are so much more than just a formality.

Ready? Let’s go!

Beyond what my eyes can see, I KNOW that we exercise every single day, that I feed a balanced raw diet consisting of 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, and 5% other organ, and that I boost their immune systems with natural antioxidants.

Why Even Fit Dogs Need An Annual Wellness Screen

Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated in 2023. It contains affiliate links I may earn compensation through at no additional cost to you. 

Even fit dogs require an annual wellness screen at the vet’s for several important reasons:

1. Early Detection of Health Issues

Dogs, like humans, can develop health problems that may not show obvious symptoms in the early stages.

Regular wellness screens can help detect these issues before they become more serious and harder to treat.

Early detection can often lead to more successful treatment and a better prognosis.

2. Preventive Care

Annual wellness screens allow veterinarians to provide preventive care for your dog.

This may include vaccinations, parasite control, and recommendations for a healthy diet and exercise routine.

Preventive care can help your dog stay healthy and reduce the risk of illness.

3. Age-Related Changes

As dogs age, their health needs can change. Annual wellness screens are essential for monitoring these changes and adjusting their care accordingly.

For example, older dogs may require different diets, supplements, or medications to maintain their health and comfort.

4. Dental Health

Dental problems are common in dogs, and they can have a significant impact on overall health.

Annual wellness screens include dental examinations, and if necessary, your vet can recommend dental cleanings or treatments to prevent dental disease.

5. Monitoring Vital Signs

Regular check-ups allow veterinarians to monitor your dog’s vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature.

Abnormalities in these signs can be indicative of underlying health issues.

6. Behavior Changes

Sudden changes in behavior can sometimes be a sign of underlying health problems in dogs.

During wellness screens, vets can discuss any behavioral concerns and explore whether they might be linked to physical health issues.

7. Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for a dog’s overall well-being.

Annual wellness screens can help track your dog’s weight and body condition, and your vet can provide guidance on nutrition and exercise to keep your dog at an ideal weight.

8. Establishing a Baseline

Regular wellness screens help establish a baseline of your dog’s health.

This baseline can be valuable in the future when your dog does become ill or experiences changes in their health. It allows your vet to compare current findings with previous records to identify trends or abnormalities.

10. Peace of Mind

Annual wellness screens provide peace of mind for pet owners.

Knowing that your dog is in good health or addressing any concerns early can reduce anxiety and ensure that you’re providing the best possible care for your furry companion.

What MY Eyes CAN’T See

However, here’s what my eyes CAN NOT see: I can’t look inside their veins and tell if the ratio of different cells is normal or not (red blood cells/white blood cells, platelets).

The annual wellness screen includes a CBC (complete blood count) which checks for abnormalities in the blood.  

When Missy underwent her chemotherapy sessions after her thyroid cancer diagnosis, a CBC had to be done before each chemotherapy session to ensure that enough white blood cells were present.

I also can’t listen to the pups’ hearts & lungs.

Our vet, however, does by auscultating Missy & Buzz and checking for abnormal heart rate & rhythm as well as breath sounds.

Another part of the exam I’m not qualified for is how to palpate the pups’ legs, abdomen, & lymph nodes for any abnormalities.

Our vet knows exactly how to do that & what to feel for.

The wellness screen also includes a heartworm test, lyme test, and ehrlichia test as symptoms for these diseases are not necessarily obvious.

If left untreated, they can progress into a chronic infection.

Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes, and ticks are responsible for lyme & ehrlichia.

We don’t have the test results yet, but our Vet Dr. Schaller was very happy with the pups’ body condition. One of the first things she pointed out was that she spent the vast majority of the day letting pet owners know their pets are overweight, and that it’s refreshing to see that Missy & Buzz are clearly NOT.

She also pointed out that both pups have very nice abs πŸ™‚

This isn’t the first time she’s told me this, but it’s definitely something I’ll never tire of hearing.

After all, it’s confirmation from a professional that our daily exercise routine is working!

Dr. Schaller was also very pleased with the pups’ white, clean teeth, especially Missy’s.

She did notice a little tartar on ONE of Buzz’s teeth which is located directly underneath the molar which had to be extracted last year after breaking from chewing on a hard beef bone.

The molar no longer being there might have caused the tartar build-up on the tooth in question.

I will need to pay specific attention to this one and brush it again (I stopped brushing the pups’ teeth once we began feeding a raw diet with meaty raw bones – they act as natural tooth brushes).

Side note: According to the APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention), 52.7% of American Dogs are overweight, which translates into the fact that more than half of all American Dogs are going to have a shorter life span than they could have.

On average, obesity shaves off 2 years from a dog’s life expectancy, can cause diabetes & kidney disease, osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease), high blood pressure, as well as certain types of cancer.

In addition to the wellness screen, the pups were also due for their intestinal parasite screens (a poop sample is checked for parasites) and their bordetella vaccines (aka kennel cough).

Now, the only reason why I went ahead with these vaccinations is the fact that I’ll have to board the pups within the next 6 weeks, and that the boarding facility requires proof of vaccination against bordetella.

Neither our vet nor the vet next to the boarding place offer titer tests for bordetella, so I’ll have to check with holistic veterinary offices to see if they do (none are close-by).

When doing a titer test, a dog’s blood is checked for the level of antibodies against a certain disease. If the level is sufficient, there is no need to revaccinate for the specific disease.

I’m very interested in this type of testing as over-vaccinating is directly linked to auto-immune diseases in dogs (and cancer in cats).

Oh, before I forget to mention, I did DECLINE the Lepto vaccine refresher for now (the last Lepto vaccine was administered almost exactly one year ago).

I want to speak with a holistic veterinarian on the topic of (over)vaccinating before I have any more vaccinations pumped into the pups’ bodies.

So definitely stay tuned for more!

Why Even Fit Dogs Need An Annual Wellness Screen: Bottom Line

In conclusion, even fit dogs benefit from annual wellness screens at the vet’s because they help detect health issues early, provide preventive care, monitor changes as the dog ages, and ensure that your pet receives the appropriate care and attention for their specific needs. Regular check-ups contribute to a longer, healthier, and happier life for your dog.

Does your pup get yearly check-ups? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.


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14 responses to “Why Even Fit Dogs Need An Annual Wellness Screen”

  1. Diane Silver Avatar

    Yup, we sure do get yearly checkups! Great reminder for everyone!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks Diane, I had no doubt that Rocco is getting his wellness exams on a regular basis!!

  2. Rebekah Ward Avatar

    My big boy bruce had his yearly exam last week. He gets a yearly cbc and cmp, because he is on daily meds, and I am always reassured with normal bloodwork. The vet and tech both commented while drawing his blood (no small feat) that he is solid muscle, which made me happy.
    Glad your pups are so healthy! I love seeing lean, fit dogs!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      I do, too, Rebekah, there’s just something about being able to see a well defined waistline πŸ™‚

      Go, Bruce! Apparently vets don’t get to see fit dogs on a regular basis, which is a real bummer.

  3. MilitaryWifeandPugLife Avatar

    Yes yes yes!! We always do a yearly!
    And find a vet you love and trust. We did a ton of research to find our vet and she’s perfect for the girls. I wish more pet owners loved their dogs like we do!!5

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Hehe, I had a feeling you do yearly check-ups for your pug babies πŸ™‚

      Yes, definitely find a vet you’re comfortable with & that your pups are comfortable with as well. Missy & Buzz love Dr. Schaller and handed out tons of puppy kisses to both her and the new head nurse Tammy they hadn’t seen before. Always a great sign!

      Definitely share your wish.

  4. Beth_Daily_Dog_Tag Avatar

    Our pets (dogs, cat, tortoise) always get a yearly checkup. Our rabbit goes in for a check up too, but it is more like every 2 years.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Awesome – way to go!! I just got our test results today & everything came back negative for both pups πŸ™‚

  5. Julie Smith Avatar
    Julie Smith

    I have to get Cocoa her kennel cough vaccine because she goes to daycare sometimes and they require it every 6 months and when I called my vet they require a physical every 6 months. I think this is excessive and think 1 year is good. For a healthy dog. I do not like when it seems as if they are trying to make more money for looking at her teeth and ears, basically. There are no blood tests or stool samples involved so I may have to look around. It is important to find someone who loves and really cares for our sweet pups!!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Same here, the kennel cough vaccine is also due every 6 months. I read & heard that it only protects against 2 strains out of a plethora, so it’s really not as effective as traditional vets make it seem to be. I found this article from Mercola which provides a great summary on the topic of bordetella vaccines:

      http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/10/08/cough-treatment-for-dogs.aspx

  6. 2 brown dawgs blog Avatar

    Yep our dogs have annual exams. Today Thunder went in for part of his. Also the cat for vaccines. We are having a dental done on Thunder because he has a tooth that looks odd so we want it checked. They do xrays as part of the dental at our vet now so we can know for sure if there is any issue with the root. He will be 10 in March so I would rather have it taken care of now instead of a year or two from now. He had blood work and heartworm check ahead of that. We will get him Lepto in March when it is due because we still expect he will do field work and the kennel cough vaccine since he is around other dogs. I also need to take a stool sample… I had the cat and Thunder and only two hands so I will do that later. Freighter already had his exam and vaccines. The vet was pretty impressed with how solid and muscled he is, but then he is a working dog. Storm will go in March. When you have three and a cat it can be a production….lol.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      I have no doubt that your vet was thrilled with Freighter’s muscles!! It’s a shame that a fit body condition has become a rarity in so many dogs. Definitely sounds like you have your hands full with all your pets – chapeau to you for taking such great care of all of them.

      I hope that Thunder’s tooth turns out to be ok – are you getting some kind of discount on the dental work? Just wondering since February is National Dental Health Month. Buzz’s molar extraction happened last year in February, and I guess we got somewhat lucky that our vet had a 10% off deal for all dental exams/procedures.

      All our tests came back negative (Lepto, Heartworm, Intestinal Parasites), so that’s always a small reason to celebrate. We’re keeping our paws crossed for good results for Storm as well πŸ™‚

      1. 2 brown dawgs blog Avatar

        I scheduled Thunder’s dental for March. Fits my schedule better. Clear tests are reason to celebrate for sure.

        1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

          I can relate to rescheduling. Had to do it twice before we were finally able to go in for our wellness screens. My schedule has just been crazy lately.

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