Why Your Dog's Annual Exam May Be More Important Than Your Own

"It's equivalent to you seeing your physician only once every 8 years."

©Scott Sheaffer, CDBC, CPDT-KA, USA Dog Behavior, LLC

Taking your dog for regular annual exams with your veterinarian is a New Year's resolution that may be more important than you previously realized.

The reason your dog's annual exam is so critical is simple. 

Dogs normally live from 6 to 14 years depending on breed and size. Please see the Average Life Expectancy by Breed chart below to see your dog's life expectancy if your dog is a purebred. 

If your dog is a mixed breed, a large 2013 study indicated that mixed breed dogs over 90 pounds have a life expectancy of 8 years and mixed breed dogs under 90 pounds have a life expectancy of 11 years.

By comparison, the average life expectancy of a human in the U.S. is 80 years. Over your lifetime of physical and behavioral changes, you can expect about 80 annual checkups with your physician. Your physician gets to see you change in 1/80th increments each year.

Dogs develop (and decline) about 8 times faster than humans. By seeing your trusted veterinarian once a year for your dog's annual checkup, your veterinarian only sees a snapshot of your dog that covers a large change in his or her physical and behavioral development. It's equivalent to you seeing your physician only once every 8 years.

From the perspective of how quickly dogs mature, the importance of an annual exam for your dog is obvious.

Sadly, our canine friends are with us for such a short time. If you're not already taking your dog for regular annual exams, make it a New Year's resolution.