10 Questions Every Dog Owner Should Ask Their Vet

Skylar Dial
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Should my pet have tests for hidden diseases? What lab work do you recommend for my pet?

Every pet owner should have a checklist of pre-purchase questions for their veterinarian to make sure they’re addressing any potential problems. Your monthly visits should provide an opportunity to discuss a full list of concerns for your pet.

Here are 10 questions every pet owner should ask their vet:

  • Should my pet have tests for hidden diseases?
  • What tests do you recommend for my pet?
  • What lab work do you recommend for my pet?
  • Is there an alternative testing lab that you recommend?
  • Do you have a report or health screen profile that you often use for my pet’s breed?
  • Do you have recommendations about where the test(s) should be performed?
  • Will my pet’s blood test results help you make a diagnosis?
  • How often should a pet be tested for common diseases?
  • What causes my pet’s symptoms; is there a simple test that will give you an answer?

Which vaccines should my dog receive?

Which vaccinations is right for your dog? In order to answer this question, there are a few things the vet should consider.

Firstly, your dog’s lifestyle and personality should be taken into account. Your dog’s age, and geographic location should also be considered. Vaccinations vary for different physical needs and environmental conditions. The immunization schedule also varies from region to region. The vet will help you select the vaccinations that are right for your dog, based on his conclusions.

There are a few scenarios where you should be extra careful when it comes to vaccinations. You know your dog better than anyone else. If the vet insists on certain vaccinations even after you firmly suggest otherwise, take it seriously and move on to another vet. You do not want to risk your dog’s health.

How often should I schedule examinations?

Ask how often you should bring your dog in for routine examinations. The answer will depend on your dog’s age, breed, and health status. An older dog may need periodic exams to detect changes in organ function, chronic diseases, or other gradual problems. To find out if your dog needs more frequent exams, please ask your veterinarian.

What is the ideal weight for my dog?

This is a question that every dog owner should ask their vet during every visit. The ideal weight for dogs depends on their size, age and overall health.

For example, for small dogs, the ideal weight may be 15 lbs for a 5-year-old dog and am 18 lbs. for a 6-month-old puppy. However, for large dogs, the weights can vary significantly based on their size. For example, an adult Samoyed should weigh between 60 and 80 lbs.

The recommended body condition score that you should aim for when it comes to your dog is a dog that has a waist that feels like a "belt" when you wrap your hands around the abdomen. The dog should feel "ribby" but not "spare tire."

5. What is considered adequate and appropriate exercise for my dog?

A common misconception is that all dogs should eat as much as they want, whenever they want, even when old or overweight. This is not true. There is a great deal of research on the health benefits of exercise and dogs respond well to a good daily activity program.

Ideally, your dog should have 30 minutes of structured exercise, at least three times a week. This can come in the form of a nice walk, run or romp on the playground or it can be combined with play and training throughout the day.

According to Dr. Richard Pitcairn, a holistic veterinarian who has extensively researched the benefits of exercise in dogs as well as humans, "Increasing the energy level reduces stress, and relieves tension on all levels." By increasing your dog's exercise level, you reduce the risk of your dog becoming overweight, hyperactive, bored and lonely.

The proper amount of exercise not only gives your dog a better quality of life, but it also helps him live a longer, healthier life. The benefits of regular activity include a reduction of bone and joint problems, stress, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, and obesity.

6. What diet should I feed my dog, and how often should he be fed?

While it's true that dogs are universally notorious for eating just about anything they can get their paws on, your dog still needs a balanced, healthy diet. All dogs should be fed at least once a day, and ideally twice.

For toy breeds, you can feed them every 6 hours; large breeds may have to eat twice that amount. If your dog isn't can't wolf down his food quickly, try buying food in bulk. You'll save money, it'll be fresh every day, and you won't be tempted to overfeed your dog just because you think he never gets enough.

Most vets agree that dogs should eat "people food" as infrequently as possible. Their nutrition is optimized for a diet specifically formulated for a canine's needs. People food is often calorie-rich, may not be fortified with all the nutrients a dog needs, and lacks the ideal balance for your pooch. You may be surprised to hear that dogs can be allergic to the specific proteins in certain foods.

Serving suggestions for dog food vary depending on a dog's age and size. It's usually recommended to start puppies on canned food and begin mixing in dry food at around 1 year. Choose a food that agrees with your dog's digestive system and remember that smaller portions are fine, as dogs are less likely to overeat if their bowl is empty.

Are there supplements or natural remedies that would help my dog?

This question can help you avoid unnecessary medical interventions. While your vet will have a list of products that can help your pampered pooch, he might not have all the options you could try. Ask your vet to help you find the most natural treatments you can try at home.

8. Should I purchase pet insurance?

9. How do I prevent dental disease? What do you recommend for dental care?

Dogs need a three-pronged approach to healthy teeth and gums.

Clean teeth are evenly spaced teeth, free of buildup and tartar. Regular brushing removes the plaque, tartar, and food remnants that can accumulate on the teeth. A good diet is nutritious and healthy; it’s what the teeth and gums need in order to stay healthy. Brushing every day and an annual dental cleaning are recommended to keep the teeth healthy. For many years, vets recommended brushing teeth daily with human toothpaste and instruments. However, in recent years vets have dismissed this as unnecessary. Dogs’ teeth simply are not the same and have different needs than humans. So brushing with a human toothpaste and metal or plastic instruments can sometimes cause damage to the dog’s teeth and gums.

The best way to brush a dog’s teeth is with a specially formulated dog toothpaste or food additive. These toothpastes and additives contain the mild abrasives necessary to effectively remove plaque and tartar without harming the teeth or gums. They use glycoproteins and enzymes that are safe for dogs and that form a protective film on the teeth and gums.

What flea and tick treatments and heartworm treatments do you recommend?

A lot of pet owners choose to skip the flea and tick treatment for their dog because they believe their dog isn’t at risk for a flea or tick infestation. But that doesn’t mean you should skip treating these parasites altogether. While fleas and ticks are more likely to be a problem in certain parts of the country, you never know when you’ll find yourself in a situation where your dog will be exposed.

Fleas and ticks come in many different forms and carry numerous diseases that can infect your dog. While it’s true that your dog isn’t likely to be exposed in areas where fleas and ticks aren’t common, if you do find yourself in a situation where your dog is exposed, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t rely on your vet to recommend the best flea and tick treatments for your dog. After all, your dog needs much more than flea and tick protection. You need to make sure that whatever you choose is safe and at the correct dosage for your dog’s weight without being toxic.

That’s why you need to ask your vet about flea and tick protection for your dog each and every time you visit your vet.