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What Are The Essential Exams for Your Dog? A Vet Shares


Money is tight and bills are getting higher not lower. You want to give your dog the right care, but you have to be mindful of your budge too.

Denise Petryk, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Trupanion provided answers to our questions about what healthcare is essential that your dog have, regardless of your budget.

What are the “Essential Exams”?

Wellness exams are a perfect opportunity to talk to your veterinarian about any questions you may have, keep your dog updated on vaccines, and catch any underlying health issues early on. Just like with our own health, preventative care is extremely beneficial in the long run.

As your dog ages, they will need more check-ups to make sure everything is fine.
As your dog ages, they will need more check-ups to make sure everything is fine.

When your dog is a puppy, they should go to the veterinarian twice a year to be sure you are off on the right foot with your young dog. As they get older, depending on their health, you should at least get a yearly wellness exam.

Your yearly checkup is a great time to ask your veterinarian about safe treats, the best foods for your dog, how much exercise they should be getting, spay/neuter procedures, the best preventative care, potential health risks to be aware of, and if you don’t have it—medical insurance for your dog.

As your pet gets older and reaches their senior years, ideally your pet should visit the veterinarian two to three times per year to discuss age-related changes, degenerative conditions, exercise, diet, comfort support, and any routine lab tests to detect diseases early on.

How frequently should a dog have these exams?

Generally, a dog needs at least one veterinary exam per year. Your dog’s need for veterinary exams change throughout their life. The frequency of wellness exams should increase for puppies under 2 years old and senior dogs over 6. Wellness exams are essential for maintaining a strong relationship with your veterinarian, establishing the best preventative care, and addressing any health concerns early on.

Do Any Pet Insurance Carriers Cover These Exams?

Some providers will cover wellness exams at an extra cost, but most just cover injuries and illnesses. For example, Trupanion covers the diagnosis and treatment of unexpected illnesses and injuries, but not exam fees or vaccinations. Including wellness coverage can raise costs of insurance without improving coverage. If your veterinarian were to notice something at a yearly checkup, diagnostic tests would likely be covered by insurance.

Are there exams that are essential in some places (geographically?) but not others?

The veterinarian in your region will know what kind of health risks to keep an eye out for. Talk to your local veterinarian about health risks in your area and what to look out for.

People worry about over-vaccinating and medications. What do pet owners need to understand about taking their pet to the vet for regular check-ups? Why is it important?

It is very important to have a veterinarian who is familiar with you, your dog, and your environment to get the best balance of proper preventative care. Regular checkups only improve that relationship. You can’t find all the answers online—having a great connection with your veterinarian will help you find the information and make decisions that are best for you and your pet. Your veterinarian is your best resource. Come prepared with questions and stay well-informed through the process.
Want more information or help? Trupanion’s Pet Care page can help inform and prepare pet owners to ask relevant questions at their dog’s wellness exam.

About the Author

Based in Wilsonville, Ore., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She is the founder of, A Fairytail House, a unique all-positive all-sport dog training facility that helps rescue dogs in her area and provides free seminars and training classes for the community. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs. She smartly married a Veterinary Technician, who helps keep the fur kids happy and healthy, and provides a quick resource for articles.


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Written by Kristina Lotz
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