Creature Feature
Preventive health care for your canine

Dan Meakin
July is Canine Preventative Care Month at All Creatures Animal Hospital.

At ACAH we know that canine preventive medicine often catches problems before they become serious, saving you time and money.

If you think about it, it’s like caring for your vehicle. You regularly check the oil and the air pressure in the tires and take the car in for regularly scheduled maintenance.

Doing the same thing for your dog can stop health problems in their tracks and even extend your dogs life.

Regular Veterinary Visits

Taking your dog in each year for his veterinary exam, isn’t just about vaccinations. Your veterinarian will do a thorough exam: palpating the body to make sure all the internal organs feel normal and there are no lumps or bumps; checking the eyes and ears; listening to the heart and lungs; checking the weight; and taking the temperature.

Dog’s age differently than people, an annual physical is comparable to you having a physical exam every five or six years. This is important if your dog is middle-aged or older because it gives your veterinarian a chance to find and treat health problems before they become serious.


Most people go on faith that vaccinations are good for a dog and protect him against disease. They’re right. When born, puppies are protected by special antibodies produced in their mother’s milk, but as they lose this protection as they get older.

Canines need a series of vaccinations, usually starting at six to ten weeks of age. The vaccinations are repeated every three or four weeks until the puppy is about four months old. Then he gets annual vaccinations to protect him throughout his life. The vaccinations protect your dog against such rabies, parvovirus, and distemper and against other diseases such as viral hepatitis, parainfluenza, coronavirus, kennel cough and Lyme disease if you live an area where Lyme disease is common and your dog spends a lot of time outside.

Spaying and neutering

You may not know this, but spaying a female dog before her first heat and neutering a male before he reaches sexual maturity can often prevent many behavioral and health problems.

Spay and neuter surgeries are easier to perform on young puppies, take less time and require less anesthesia thanks to new technology and new drugs. Young puppies recover much quicker than older puppies or dogs, and long-term health benefits can include a smaller risk of developing mammary tumors and dangerous uterine infections or testicular cancer. Dogs that are spayed or neutered prior to hitting puberty have a much greater chance of living a long, full life.

Spaying and neutering have another very important benefit that is often overlooked: preventing the birth of unwanted puppies. According to the Humane Society, 25 to 35 million dogs are put to sleep each year because there just aren’t enough homes for them.

Your dog should be spayed or neutered by the age of four to six months, unless your veterinarian recommends otherwise. Spaying or neutering is a one-time investment that will dramatically lower your dog’s risk of several serious disease (including some cancers), and can double your dog’s life expectancy.

At All Creatures Animal Hospital, we know that preventing disease and injury is the single most important service we can offer you. Ensuring that your pet stays healthy means you’ll have more time to spend together. As with us humans, animals are living longer than ever thanks to rigorous (and affordable) preventive medicine. You’ll discover that investing in a little preventive care now saves you substantial money down the road.

Dr. Dan Meakin is founder and chief of staff of All Creatures Animals Hospital with offices in Amelia, Anderson, and Mt. Washington.