Having a dog is a lot of responsibility. It is not enough just to love them unconditionally, it is absolutely necessary to know a thing or two about how to keep them healthy. I’m not expecting every pet owner to take medical classes. I am saying, find a veterinarian that you and your dog trust, then dive into their vast knowledge pool.
If you don’t know where to start, here are some of the top questions that every dog owner needs to ask their veterinarian.
1. What Vaccinations Does My Dog Need and When?
Vaccinations are one of the best ways to keep your pup healthy. They help prevent your dog from contracting illnesses or at least decrease the severity of these illnesses if they do get them. The vaccinations your dog needs varies depending on their lifestyle and the area in which you live.
Every dog, regardless of lifestyle, age, or location, should receive the core vaccines for rabies, parvovirus, distemper, and canine hepatitis. Additional vaccines for leptospirosis, influenza, Bordetella, Lyme disease and others should be given if your veterinarian deems necessary.
How Old Should Your Dog Be?
Pups should be vaccinated, starting at six to eight weeks of age. Depending on the specific vaccine, boosters should be given every three to four weeks for a total of at least three.
Rabies vaccine can be given starting at 12 weeks of age. After that, some vaccinations may be given yearly or every three years or longer. This is why it is vital to discuss vaccinations with your vet to determine your dog’s best schedule.
2. How Often Should I Bring My Dog to the Vet?
Again, this is going to depend on your veterinarian. Most vets like to see you at least once a year, even if no vaccinations are required at that time. This is just to perform a general wellness exam checking for internal and external issues.
Vets also like to monitor oral health and may recommend blood work to check for hidden health issues. Don’t be surprised if your vet asks that you come in every six months, especially as your dog ages. This just helps them to keep better track of your pup’s health and to catch any problems before they become big. Of course, you’re welcome to visit as often as you see fit!
3. What Should I Feed My Dog?
All dog foods are not created equal. In fact, there are vast differences out there between dog foods, and it may seem like an impossible task to pick which one is right for your dog. Obviously, if your pup has a condition in which diet is a factor, such as allergies or irritable bowel syndrome. Your vet is your number one source for dietary recommendations. However, you should also utilize your veterinarian’s knowledge to help you choose a dog food for a pup without special nutritional needs.
Your veterinarian will help you choose a product that provides proper nutrition for your best friend. As well as find a dog food one that tastes good and is priced within your range. Don’t be afraid to do a little research on your own and then ask your vet’s opinion about certain dog food brands to help narrow down your search.
4. How Do I Train My Dog?
I know that veterinarians are there mainly for your pooch’s medical needs, but many of them possess helpful training tips as well. If your vet does not have any suggestions, they can definitely point you in the direction of someone that does.
It’s especially important to ask your veterinarian training questions if you’re having trouble in a specific area. For example, if your pup is having trouble with house training. Your vet might want to make sure they don’t have a urinary tract infection.
5. What is My Dog’s Ideal Weight?
We all love our dogs. Some of us show it through food, and our dogs are the ones that suffer. Your veterinarian should be your first line of defense against obesity-related issues. Not only will your dog’s veterinary records track their weight. But your veterinarian can also give you weight targets and recommendations on how to achieve those desired weight goals.
The ideal weight of an animal depends on many factors, including frame size, degree of muscling, and body condition score. This all seems pretty complicated, so be sure to get your veterinarian involved to keep your dog at their healthiest weight possible.
6. How Do I Keep My Dog’s Mouth Healthy?
A healthy mouth is an excellent smelling mouth, something that all dog parents can appreciate. Dental health in dogs should start before there is an odor problem. Regular veterinary visits will give your veterinarian a chance to monitor your dog’s dental health and give you tips to keep their mouth healthy.
Vets can show you the proper way to brush your dog’s teeth. Plus, the vet should be able to recommend any products or techniques that can help with your dog’s specific dental issues. Your vet may also choose to schedule regular dental cleanings to prevent problems before they start so that you don’t have to worry about it.
Be sure to check out my article on, “How To Brush A Boston Terrier Teeth“.
7. What Can I Use to Prevent Fleas, Ticks, and Heartworm?
There are many, many products out there to treat fleas, ticks, and heartworm. Some of these products might not be safe for your dog and can cause severe reactions that may be life-threatening. Your veterinarian will help you find a product that is above all safe, meets your dog’s needs, and that is easy for you to use.
The most effective flea, tick, and heartworm medications are available only through veterinarians. We buy our medicine online, and it requires a vet to sign off on the purchase. It is imperative that you regularly see your vet to get the proper prescription.
There are many, many fleas, tick, and heartworm products out there along with many, many ways that they can be administered. Your vet can help you with that as well. When recommending a product to you, your vet will consider the route of administration and show you exactly where to place the topical. As well as how to give the chewable, or how to ensure the collar is fitted correctly.
8. How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need?
Exercise varies between different breeds, ages, and even individual dogs. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to find. Enlisting your veterinarian will help you figure it out. They will take into account your dog’s energy level, personality, abilities, and exercise opportunities in your area to outline an exercise program for every dog.
Not only can this program give you an idea of the amount of time needed per day, but it can also help with incorporating different types of exercise. Exercise will pump up your dog’s physical and mental strength.
9. Are There Specific Diseases Related to My Dog’s Breed?
Just ask any Boston Terrier parent about the brachycephalic syndrome. All of our purebred pups seem to have something that they’re predisposed to. Getting the scoop on what that could look like from your veterinarian early on can help with prevention or at least get you ready to know what to watch out for. Mixed breeds are no exception. While they are less likely to display some of those genetic conditions that affect purebreds, they still can be at high risk.
Understanding the issues that can plague your dog’s breed, or breeds can help ensure that your dog will get the best care should they experience a health concern.
Don’t wait until you have a dog to speak to your veterinarian. Vets can be a great source of information to help you find a reputable breeder for whatever dog breed you’re looking for. Reputable breeders will screen their dogs for certain genetic disorders. The breeder does this to ensure the disorder does not pass onto their puppies. This will give you a few fewer things to worry about.
Want to learn more about the health issues related to a Boston Terrier? Check out my article on, “10 Common Health Concerns For Boston Terrier“.
10. What Are the Issues Associated With Age in Dogs?
Just like people, a dog’s health concern changes with age. Puppies are more susceptible to certain viral and bacterial diseases, especially if they’re not vaccinated. Senior pups may experience arthritis.
Every age group has its own set of possible problems. Again, knowing what to watch for may help prevent some of these troubles. Or at the very least make you aware of them should they occur in your pup.
11. What is This Lump/Bump?
Lumps and bumps on your dog can be anything from a fatty tumor to nasty cancer, and the sooner you find out, the better. If you notice a lump or bump on your pup, be sure to monitor it closely for growth rate, firmness, mobility, color, and any other changes. Your veterinarian will want to know all about it!
12. Does My Dog Need Any Supplements?
Generally speaking, if you’re feeding your dog a quality dog food, they should be getting everything they need. However, some supplements may help some dogs.
For example, dogs that have a history of hip dysplasia may do well with a glucosamine supplement to keep those hip joints healthy for as long as possible. Dogs that are prone to urinary tract infections might benefit from a little cranberry.
The possibilities are endless, but no supplement should be given without the direction of your veterinarian. Also, be aware that a lot of human supplements aren’t safe for our dog friends, another reason to ask your veterinarian before giving your dog any supplementation.
13. Should I Get Pet Insurance?
Your veterinarian can be a great source of information on the perhaps daunting issue of pet insurance. For most of us, carrying health insurance is a no brainer, but does a dog really need all of that?
With the many different options for pet insurance out there, it can be a confusing and intimidating subject to dive into on your own. Seek your veterinarian’s advice since they are the ones on the other side of it. Your vet may be able to recommend the best companies to work with, as well as give you an idea of what your dog will cost you in vet bills.
I personally have been against the idea of pet insurance, especially with my Boston Terrier, Bella. However, seek the advice of your vet on whether or not the health of your dog would warrant the purchase. Once again, my family had many different dogs growing up, and we never had pet insurance and did just fine.
14. Could You Please Explain My Bill?
This question doesn’t necessarily have to be for your veterinarian, but definitely someone in your vet’s office. Veterinarians undergo extensive training and have years of experience all to give your dog the best health care possible.
Unfortunately, they have to charge for that. If you have any questions or concerns with your bill, be sure to ask them about it rather than moving on to the next clinic down the road. Building a relationship with a veterinarian is your dog’s best guarantee for a healthy life.
Continually switching between veterinary clinics due to billing issues isn’t going to go far in establishing that relationship. It may also make your pup apprehensive or nervous about visiting the vet because they don’t ever get a chance to get comfortable with one.
The veterinarian-client-patient relationship is an important one. To ensure your pup receives the best care possible, get comfortable with your veterinarian. Use their knowledge to your dog’s advantage. Hopefully, this list of questions will give you a start on how to tap into that knowledge base to best serve your best friend and to foster that great relationship.