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Published: Jan 30, 2012

Annual checkups are an important part of keeping your dog healthy and happy, but it is important to bear in mind that canines age faster than people. VCA Animal Hospitals reports that most dog breeds are the equivalent of middle-aged by the time they are six years old, but big dogs age faster than smaller ones. By the time a larger-breed canine reaches his sixth birthday, he might be considered a geriatric canine.

The best course of action to determine how often you should be bringing your pet to the veterinarian is to talk to the doctor and find out what they recommend for your specific animal based on the medical history, breed and age of the pet. Routine wellness visits are the most effective way to catch problems early on. This may include giving shots to dogs, blood work, a visual inspection and possibly even a urinalysis, according to VCA.

The Times Record News of Wichita Falls, Texas, reports that proper medical treatment can extend a pet's life, but their routine might need to change to accommodate any illnesses that may require special care. No matter how attentive you are to your dog's health, issues can still develop, and it is best to be prepared for the worst.