Essentially, there are 4 stages of life for any canine:
- Young Adult
- Mature Adult
These categories should be used as a guide to determine the appropriate care necessary for your pet, for that particular stage. The age, size, lifestyle, health status, and breed of your dog all affect the care that is appropriate for them. The care they receive throughout their lives has a direct impact on their lifespan and energy levels.
The AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) The Canine Life Stage Checklist provides a checklist of items to discuss with each pet owner based on life stage. This table of additional resources offers suggestions to help predict longevity in various common breeds.
A mature adult dog has different needs than a puppy, young adult, or senior dog. Good preventive healthcare and at least semi-annual to annual physical exams will put your dog on track to a long and healthy life.
If your dog is a working or service dog, more frequent veterinary visits may be required. Together, you and the veterinary team can develop a plan to maintain your dog’s optimum health and specific physical abilities.
As a mature adult, your dog’s veterinary visits will include a thorough physical exam. The veterinarian will take your dog’s temperature and check body and muscle condition, skin, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, heart, lungs, gastrointestinal system, urinary system, brain, nerves, bones, joints, and lymph nodes during veterinary visits. Tell your veterinarian about your dog’s mobility and activity at home to help detect early signs of orthopedic disease and arthritis. Click below to learn about some topics you’ll want to discuss with your dog’s veterinary team.
Behavior problems are a common reason dogs are relinquished to shelters. Your veterinarian is the best resource for accurate and current information regarding your dog’s behavior. At your dog’s veterinary visit, be prepared to discuss the following:
Share any behavior concerns you have about your dog’s cognition (i.e., mental awareness or attitude). Many issues can be addressed and corrected by integrating medical, dietary, or pain management. If training is needed, your veterinary team can help you select appropriate trainers and classes.
Yes, an adult dog can have a healthy mouth and good breath! Periodontal disease can be prevented through regular dental examinations by your veterinarian and proper home care. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to chronic pain, infection, and poor quality of life. Because so many dogs are affected by dental and periodontal disease, your veterinarian will perform an oral exam during your visit so a dental plan can be designed and discussed. The plan may require anesthesia to obtain X-rays to further evaluate and treat periodontal disease. If you have concerns about anesthesia, tell your veterinary team! They are happy to answer any questions and explain the risks associated with nonanesthetic dentistry.
With more than 50% of dogs suffering from obesity and obesity-related illnesses, and as your dog slows down, so does their metabolism. Your veterinarian will establish a target weight range based on your dog’s current weight and muscle condition. Your dog’s weight is a good indication of their overall health.
As your dog ages, they may develop medical conditions that can be effectively managed by food with specific nutrient levels. With so many pet food choices, it can be overwhelming, but veterinarians have medical training specific to dog nutrition, so let them help you. Together, you can choose a quality food with targeted nutrition, based on your pet’s breed, size, and needs.
Thought about using supplements, like CBD? Talk to our veterinary team, so they can help you make the safest choices for your dog.
Parasites don’t only affect puppies—mature adult dogs still need to be protected, as well. A year-round medicine to prevent intestinal parasites should be continued as part of your dog’s healthcare plan. Remember, parasites are found in a dog’s feces and can be transmitted to humans, so talk to your veterinarian about how to keep everyone in your home safe. Heartworm disease, fleas, and ticks don’t discriminate by age, either. Keep heartworm preventive and flea and tick control up-to-date. Expect annual testing for tick-borne infection, heartworm disease, and intestinal parasites at your visit.
Vaccination is a crucial component to preventive medicine in dogs. Vaccinations keep your dog’s immune system strong to fight against infection. Several vaccines were likely administered when your dog was a puppy. Depending on your dog’s vaccine history, lifestyle, and risk of exposure to disease, your veterinarian may adjust their vaccine schedule. Antibody titer testing to determine protection from a few specific viral infections may be suggested as well. Your veterinarian will advise which vaccines are necessary to keep your dog healthy.