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National Pet Wellness Month: Focus on dogs

National Pet Wellness Month: Focus on dogs

Keeping pets healthy and happy throughout their lives is a daily responsibility shared by pet owners and veterinarians. So, in 2004 the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) partnered with Fort Dodge Animal Health to designate October as National Pet Wellness Month. The program’s aims are simple—to educate the public about the connection between pet aging and pet health, and to highlight the importance of twice-yearly wellness exams for cats and dogs.

Here in Part 1, we’ll focus on what National Pet Wellness Month means to our pooches and look at the ways that we can help our dogs to live longer, healthier lives.

The Importance of Twice-Yearly Wellness Exams for Dogs

As dogs age, their risk for some common health problems increases. The seven most common health issues seen in aging dogs are arthritis, dental and gum disease, diabetes, kidney disease, blindness, cancer, and dementia. While dogs are less likely than cats to conceal early symptoms of health problems, vigilance is still recommended. Twice-yearly vet exams can help detect even the mild changes in your dog’s health that occur early in the disease process. And early detection can relieve unnecessary discomfort for both your pet and your budget.

Editor’s Note: As a new dog owner, you may be unaware of what to expect at your pup’s first wellness exam. Here are tips for taking your dog to the vet.

How you can Improve your Dog’s Health

During National Pert Wellness Month, vets across the nation will be sharing educational materials with their clients. Check with your vet on materials they can share regarding canine health.

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Keep records of your dog’s health, including all vaccinations and procedures.
  • Note any subtle changes in your dog’s weight, appetite, energy level, mobility, bowel movements, urination, hearing, vision, and dental health.
  • Stay current on all your dog’s vaccines and boosters as recommended by your vet.
  • Check your dog’s fur and ears for parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mites—a common problem in dogs that spend lots of time outdoors. 
  • Check skin for “hot spots” as these could be signs of allergies, parasites or a skin infection.
  • If your dog is easily handled, you can check for any palpable lumps or masses in the chest, abdomen, or bladder.
  • Check your dog’s feet, especially between the pads, for any cuts or sores. Also check for joint stiffness or loss of mobility as these could indicate arthritis.
  • Check your dog’s teeth and gums for obvious signs of dental issues including decay, disease, or sensitivity.
  • If it’s been more than 6 months since your dog’s last wellness visit, make an appointment with your vet.

Consider Dog Health Insurance

Maintaining our dog’s heath is important; but in a health crisis, veterinary bills can mount up quickly, testing our ability to cope with the sudden added expense. Obtaining affordable dog healthcare coverage can help lighten the financial burden and provide some peace of mind when working with the vet to plan a course of treatment.

We hope these tips will help you and your pets have many more happy and healthy days together!


Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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