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Preventative checkups critical for pets
Annual veterinary checkups can boost the health of your dog, according to the Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association.

Preventative care is critical for your pet’s health. During a routine visit, your veterinarian will ask you a series of questions regarding your dog’s normal behavior, diet, exercise, and more.
Among the reasons to schedule his or her annual check-up with a veterinarian are:
• Annual vaccinations, such as rabies and, if your dog is frequently boarded, kennel cough.
• Annual parasite control, including bloodwork to be sure your dog is heartworm negative; fecal to check for intestinal parasites; and renewal of medication to keep him heartworm, flea, tick, and intestinal parasite free. It is much cheaper to prevent heartworms and intestinal parasites than it is to treat a dog that becomes infected.
• Examination of eyes, ears and skin for infections or abnormalities. Some conditions can be passed from dogs to humans (and vice versa).
• Early detection and treatment of dental disease. Just as humans can have plaque build-up, chipped or broken teeth, and even abscesses, so can dogs. Problems can be difficult to detect, especially in small dogs, so it is important to consult a professional, and plan for an annual cleaning, for your dog’s well-being.
• General evaluation of body condition. Is your dog too heavy, too thin, or just right? Does he move freely and comfortably, or is it time to prescribe medication to help creaky joints?
• Evaluation of heart, lungs, abdomen and lymph nodes.
A veterinarian is trained to detect minor problems before they become major health concerns. Veterinarians not only prescribe medications, but can also design appropriate feeding and exercise programs for pets with specific problems.

Susan Moon, DVM, is the president of the Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association and owner of Brooks Road Animal Hospital in Memphis.