Adult Dog

Adult Dogs Between 1 Year and 7 Years of Age


What is a Wellness Examination?

A wellness examination is a routine medical examination of a patient that is apparently healthy, as opposed to an examination of a patient that is ill. A wellness examination may also be called a ‘check-up’ or a ‘physical examination’. The focus of a wellness visit is the maintenance of optimal health.

How often should my dog have a wellness examination?

The answer to this question depends on your pet’s age and current health status. During early puppyhood wellness exams are recommended on a monthly basis, while for the average adult dog annual wellness examinations are the norm, and for middle aged or geriatric dogs semi-annual examinations are recommended.

What will my veterinarian check during a wellness examination?

During a routine wellness examination, your veterinarian will ask you questions about your dog’s diet, exercise, thirst, breathing, behavior, habits, elimination patterns (i.e., bowel movements and urination), lifestyle, and general health. Your veterinarian will also perform a physical examination of your dog. Based on your pet’s history and physical examination, your veterinarian will then make recommendations for specific preventive medicine treatments such as vaccination, parasite control (including preventive treatments for fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites and heartworms), nutrition, skin and coat care, weight management or dental care. In addition, your veterinarian will discuss your pet’s individual circumstances and decide whether any other life-stage or lifestyle recommendations would be appropriate.

What else might be checked during a wellness examination?

Your veterinarian will recommend that a fresh sample of your pet’s feces (bowel movement) is examined as part of every wellness examination. This sample will be processed and microscopically evaluated for the presence of parasite eggs. In puppies, monthly fecal examinations are extremely important since many pups will have intestinal parasites. Your veterinarian will also recommend heartworm testing on a schedule that is appropriate for your geographical part of the country.As part of a complete wellness examination, your veterinarian will usually recommend “wellness screening tests”. There are four main categories of wellness testing recommended for the dog: complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and thyroid hormone testing. Within each category, your veterinarian will advise you about how extensive the testing should be.

Is there anything I need to do to prepare my dog for a wellness examination?

When you book the appointment with your veterinarian, you should ask whether you should fast your dog before the visit. You should also ask whether you should bring in fresh urine or fecal samples.

Prepare yourself with some basic information, such as the brand and type of food that your dog eats, whether the family feeds any table scraps, whether you give your dog any supplements, and whether anybody in the family has noticed any problems. This is also the time that you should take note of any concerns you might have and make inquiries into optimal health maintenance strategies for your furry friend.


Some dogs will acquire intestinal parasite infections from ingesting items in the yard or while on walks. Since most intestinal parasites are only detected microscopically and many are transmissible to people, a microscopic examination of your dog’s feces should be included as part of a yearly check-up; samples may also be sent to the lab for more diagnostics


All dogs should receive vaccinations to help fight off or prevent certain infectious diseases by creating an “immunity”. During your dog’s yearly check-up, your veterinarian will advise you of any vaccinations that may be due. Based on the most current scientific information available, we recommend the following vaccines and vaccination schedules:

  • DHLPP (Distemper/Adenovirus Type 2/Parainfluenza/Parvovirus): This vaccine is recommended for all dogs. After a puppy vaccination series, the vaccine should be administered at one and two years and then every three years.
  • Rabies: This vaccine is recommended for all dogs and, in fact, is required by law in California and many other states. The vaccine is administered as early as 16 weeks of age, then one year later, and then every three years.
  • Bordetella (“kennel cough”): This vaccine is usually only needed by dogs that will be in a situation where exposure to other dogs infected with kennel cough is possible, such as boarding kennels, grooming facilities, public parks, and dog shows. This vaccine can be administered as early as six weeks of age and should be repeated yearly in dogs that need this vaccine.
  • Lyme Disease, (Lyme Vax), Leptospirosis Vax is recommended in our area since many wild animals are carriers.

What is “immunity”?

Immunity is a complex series of defense mechanisms by which an animal is able to resist a disease or infection or, at least resist the harmful consequences of the infection. The main components of these defenses are the white blood cells, especially lymphocytes and their chemical products, including antibodies and cytokines such as interferon. All infectious disease organisms (viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi, etc.) have specific components called antigens. These antigens will cause lymphocytes to respond in a specific way such that each antigen stimulates the production of a mirror-image antibody, as well as non-antibody responses called cellular immunity. Immunity has memory, so that a subsequent exposure to the same antigen results in a much more rapid response. This rapid response usually stops the new infection before it can cause serious illness in the individual. Such immune memory can fade with time, sometimes quite rapidly, depending on the specific antigen-antibody relationship.”Immunity has memory.”

Immunity is not absolute. Immunity can sometimes be overwhelmed when there is exposure to a high dose of a virulent or particularly harmful strain of the microorganism, or when the animal is unduly stressed or is immunosuppressed because of another disease or certain drugs.

Why is more than one dose of vaccine given to pups?

There are two reasons. First, without complicated testing it is impossible to know when a pup has lost the passive protection it gets from its mother. An early decline in a puppy’s maternal antibody can leave it susceptible to infection at a very young age: a strong maternal immunity can actually interfere with early vaccination (see our handout Vaccination Failure). Second, particularly with killed vaccines, the first dose is a “priming” dose, and the second dose boosts the response to a higher, longer-lasting level of immunity.

Do vaccines provide 100% protection?

Vaccines have been highly successful in protecting the majority of dogs against disease.But there are situations in which the immunity conferred by a vaccine may be overcome and a vaccinated dog may still develop disease. In such cases the disease is generally milder than it would have been had the dog not been vaccinated. Some causes of what appears to be “vaccine failure” are: age, pre-existing disease, new strains of a virus, and a very high exposure to the virus.


Perhaps the most common question pet owners ask their veterinarian is “What should I feed my dog?” Feeding your dog an appropriate amount of a well-balanced diet is vital to its overall health and well-being. To understand how and what to feed your dog, you need to understand what the nutritional requirements of the dog are.Choosing a high-quality food from the hundreds of available brands and formulas can be challenging. The pet nutrition industry is very competitive, and most commercially available foods are very good balanced diets. As your veterinary health-care providers, we can help you select a diet that is backed by scientific principles and research and that meets your pet’s individual needs.

What are the dietary requirements for a dog?

The six basic nutrients are water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. Because of the dietary needs of dogs, both their tooth structure and intestinal tract have become adapted to an omnivorous diet. This means that, under normal circumstances, dogs can meet their nutritional needs by eating a combination of plant and animal foods. The source of the proteins and fats is less important than the quality and digestibility of these essential components of the dog’s diet. Dogs can thrive if they are fed a properly balanced vegetarian diet. However, an all-meat diet would be unbalanced and would not meet all of a dog’s nutritional requirements

As research into basic and applied nutrition has expanded our knowledge of canine nutrition, we now know that a well-balanced diet must also include an appropriate amount of minerals, vitamins, certain essential amino acids (from proteins), and specific essential fatty acids (from fats). These components are needed to build and maintain tissue and carry out biological reactions, and the necessary amounts vary somewhat with the dog’s stage of life (puppy, adolescent, adult, pregnancy, senior).

How should I choose a dog food?

The best method to choose a food for your dog is to ask your veterinarian. However, here are some general tips to help you decide what should go into your dog’s food bowl:

  1. Select diets with real, recognizable, whole-food ingredients. If the majority of listed ingredients is unfamiliar to you, find another diet.
  2. Select a low-calorie diet. Most adult, indoor, spayed or neutered dogs have low energy requirements. Your dog’s diet should contain a relatively small amount of calories per cup—ideally less than 350 calories. If your dog food contains 500 calories per cup and you have a 20-pound dog, the amount you should feed is tiny (and unsatisfying!). Making matters worse, high-calorie foods mean even a few extra kibbles can really pack on the pounds.

Your veterinarian can estimate how many calories your dog needs each day based on its lifestyle and body condition score.

How often should I feed my dog?

For most pet dogs, feeding once or twice per day is recommended. Many dogs will benefit from eating equally divided meals two to three times per day. Regardless of the feeding schedule you choose, avoid allowing your dog to exercise vigorously after consuming a large meal, especially if your dog eats its food rapidly. This will help minimize problems with bloat, intestinal obstruction, or other serious digestive disorders.

Be sure your dog has access to fresh, clean water at all times.


Dogs have dental care needs very similar to those of people. In fact, tooth and gum disease is the most common health problem of dogs. Most dogs will need a professional dental cleaning every one to three years, depending on the individual. Your veterinarian will assess the need for a dental cleaning during your dog’s yearly check-up. A proper and thorough dental cleaning is performed while your dog is asleep under general anesthesia. A careful oral examination is performed, then tartar and plaque are removed from all surfaces of the teeth (including below the gum line) with an ultrasonic scaling instrument, the teeth are polished, and lastly stannous fluoride is applied before he or she wakes up.

Is Dental disease common?

Dental disease is one of the most common medical conditions seen by veterinarians. Over 68% of all dogs over the age of three are estimated to have some form of periodontal or dental disease. Few pets show obvious signs of dental disease. It is up to the pet’s family and veterinarian to uncover this hidden and often painful condition.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is a term used to describe inflammation or infection of the tissues surrounding the tooth. Accumulation of tartar and calculus on the teeth causes gum recession around the base of the tooth. Infection soon follows and the gums recede further, exposing sensitive unprotected tooth root surfaces and the bony tooth sockets Left untreated, the infection spreads deep into the tooth socket, destroying the bone. Ultimately, the tooth loosens and falls out.

How does tartar form and why is it a problem?

The mouth is home to thousands of bacteria. As these bacteria multiply on the surfaces of the tooth, they form an invisible layer called plaque or biofilm. Some of this plaque is removed naturally by the dog’s tongue and chewing habits. If allowed to remain on the tooth surface, the plaque thickens and becomes mineralized. Mineralized plaque forms tartar and as the tartar thickens further it becomes calculus. The tartar accumulates above and below the gumline and presses on the gums, causing inflammation called gingivitis.

HOME DENTAL CARE: To help maintain your dog’s dental health between professional dental cleanings, home dental care in the form of daily dental brushing is recommended. Special toothbrushes designed for a dog’s mouth and special animal toothpaste (human toothpaste can make your dog sick if swallowed) are available. Many dogs will learn to accept or even enjoy having their teeth brushed if they are accustomed to it early in life. Daily dental brushing can help to extend the time interval between each professional dental cleaning. The beneficial effects of dental brushing can also be enhanced by offering rawhide chews and by the use of a “dental” diet. Ask your vet about these products to decide which may be best for your pet.


Heartworms are parasites that infect the heart and blood vessels of dogs and other animals. Heartworms are more prevalent The Sierra Mountains. Although heartworm infections can be treated, preventing infections (by the use of orally administered once-a-month medication) is much easier and safer. Dog owners, therefore, should give consideration to heartworm prevention, especially if your dog travels with you out of our area. Your veterinarian can inform you about the details of heartworm testing and prevention. The yearly heart worm test also detects the presence of the Lymes agent, thus allowing us to discover the organism before clinical signs begin.

What causes heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease or dirofilariasis is a serious and potentially fatal disease. It is caused by a blood-borne parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis and is spread by mosquitos.

Adult heartworms are found in the heart and adjacent large blood vessels of infected dogs. Rarely, worms may be found in other parts of the circulatory system. The female worm is 6 – 14″ long (15 – 36cm) and 1/8″ wide (5mm). The male is about half the size of the female. One dog may have as many as 300 worms present when diagnosed.Since transmission requires the mosquito as an intermediate host, the disease is not spread directly from dog to dog. Spread of the disease therefore coincides with mosquito season, which can last year-round in many parts of the United States. The number of dogs infected and the length of the mosquito season are directly correlated with the incidence of heartworm disease in any given area.

What does heartworm do to my dog?

The signs of heartworm disease depend on the number of adult worms present, the location of the worms, the length of time the worms have been in the dog and the degree of damage that has been sustained by the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.

The most obvious clinical signs of heartworm disease are a soft, dry cough, shortness of breath, weakness, nervousness, listlessness and loss of stamina. All of these signs are most noticeable following exercise, when some dogs may even faint or become disoriented. Your veterinarian may notice abnormal lung and heart sounds when listening to the chest with a stethoscope. In advanced cases, congestive heart failure may be apparent and the abdomen and legs will swell from fluid accumulation. There may also be evidence of weight loss, poor condition and anemia. Severely infected dogs may die suddenly during exercise or excitement.

How is heartworm disease diagnosed?

In most cases, one or more simple blood tests will diagnose heartworm disease. Further diagnostic tests are essential to determine if the dog can safely undergo heartworm disease treatment. Some or all of the following diagnostic procedures are recommended before treatment is started:

Serological test for antigens to adult heartworms (antigen test, ELISA or SNAP test): This test is performed on a blood sample and takes less than 10 minutes to get results.

How can I prevent my dog from getting heartworms?

You can prevent your dog from getting heartworms by using a heartworm preventive. When a dog has been successfully treated for heartworms, it is essential to begin a heartworm prevention program to prevent future recurrence. With the safe and affordable heartworm preventives available today, no pet should ever have to endure this dreaded disease.


Fleas and ticks are very common external parasites of dogs. Allergy to flea bites is the most common allergy of dogs. Several effective flea and tick control products are available. Your veterinarian can help you choose the product best suited for your dog’s situation. Since Lymes disease is rapidly becoming a major health issue, and since the disease is spread by ticks we recommend using Frontline monthly to protect our dogs.

My dog always seems to have fleas. What can I do?

Successful flea control involves both eliminating fleas from your dog and controlling fleas in your environment. Dogs and cats share the same fleas, and fleas can travel from one animal to another. Thus, it is important that all pets in your home are on a flea preventive program.

Treating your pet for fleas has never been easier. With the many choices we have today, we can provide you with the safest and most effective flea preventive for your pet’s needs.

What are ticks?

Although ticks are commonly thought of as insects, they are actually arachnids similar to scorpions, spiders and mites. All ticks have four pairs of legs (eight legs in total) as adults and have no antennae. Adult insects by comparison have three pairs of legs (six legs) and one pair of antennae. Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of their host, which can be an animal or a human.

Ticks are efficient carriers of disease because they attach firmly when sucking blood, feed slowly and may go unnoticed for a considerable time while feeding. Ticks take several days to complete feeding.

How did my dog get ticks?

Ticks wait for host animals on the tips of grasses and shrubs; they are not commonly found in trees. When the plant is brushed by a moving animal or person, the tick quickly lets go of the vegetation and climbs onto the host. Ticks can only crawl; they cannot jump or fly. Some species of ticks will crawl several feet toward a host. Ticks can be active on winter days if the ground temperatures are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7.2 degrees Celsius).

What should I do if I find a tick on me or my dog?

  • Use blunt tweezers or disposable gloves to handle the tick. If you must use your fingers, shield them with a tissue or paper towel. Infectious agents may be contracted through mucous membranes or breaks in the skin simply by handling infected ticks. This is especially important for people who “de-tick” pets because ticks infesting dogs and other domestic animals can carry Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis or other diseases capable of infecting humans.”Infectious agents may be contracted through mucous membranes or breaks in the skin simply by handling infected ticks.”
  • Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible. This reduces the possibility of the head detaching from the body upon removal.
  • Pull the tick straight out with a steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick as this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin, increasing the chances of infection. Continue applying steady pressure even if the tick does not release immediately. It may take a minute or two of constant, slow pulling to cause the tick to release.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite area and wash your hands with soap and water.
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