Pet Info

Annual health checks and vaccines

Research has shown some brands of core (C3 and F3) vaccines offer dogs and cats protection for 3 years. This is great news, but pets still need to have annual health checks up to 7 years of age, followed by 6 monthly Senior Pet Health Checks.

Our BHVG Life Charts (.pdf printable version at bottom of this page) are a fantastic tool for pet owners as they make it easier  to remeber when their pet's next visit is due. Print it out, fill in the dates, and hang it on the toilet or pantry door as a constant reminder.

"Additional vaccines" (see below) require annual administration, and dogs still require annual heartworm (Proheart) injections. In high risk situations (e.g. cat and dog shows, boarding) annual vaccines are still recommended by specialist veterinarians.

As a result, most pets still need an annual visit for a health check and a possible "shot(s)" of some description.

When a vet gives a vaccine to a pet, it is usually contains a basic minimum of 3 viruses.




Core (Basic) Vaccines    

  • Distemper
  • Hepatitis
  • Parvovirus
  • Feline Enteritis (Parvovirus)
  • Herpes
  • Rhinotracheitis

Additional Vaccines    

  • Coronavirus
  • Kennel Cough
  • Leptospirosis
  • Chlamydia
  • Feline AIDS (FIV)
  • Feline Leukaemia (Felv)

Annual health checks are very important to your pet

When a pet goes to a vet for the annual vaccines, it's not just given a needle and pushed out the door (unless it's a cut price heavily discounted vaccine type of practice). Vets are very highly trained, and their objective is to check the pet thoroughly to make sure there are no health problems.

Seeing the vet once every 2-3 years is 
equivalent to 14 to 21 years between visits

Pets age at a considerably faster rate than humans, approximately 7 pet years to 1 of ours- see Pet Age Calculator. Hence, annual health checks are vital to a pet's health. 

What your vet checks when examining a pet at its annual health check

The price your vet charges for an annual health check and vaccines is composed mainly of the consultation fee for his/her expertise in examining your pet.

What your vet checks in a 15 minute annual health check

Teeth & Gums



  • Loose or damaged teeth
  • Healthy gums
  • Tartar
  • Fly bite dermatitis
  • Infection
  • Parasites e.g. ear mites
  • Cataracts
  • Eyelids
  • Glaucoma
  • Ulcers



Body Condition

  • Allergies
  • Cancer
  • Infection/inflammation
  • Parasites: fleas, mites
  • Lymph nodes not swollen
  • Mammary gland cancer
  • Prostate not enlarged
  • Testicles same size
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Skin health




  • Murmurs
  • Irregular rhythm
  • Heart rate normal
  • Crackles or wheezes
  • Chest not dull on percussion
  • Elevated may mean an infection or inflammation


Urine Analysis


  • Gums good colour- not anaemic or bleeding
  • Refill time good
  • Doppler Blood Pressure
  • No blood
  • No sugar (i.e. diabetes)
  • Healthy toes
  • Nails not too long



Anal Glands

  • Kidneys normal
  • No tumours e.g. large spleen tumours
  • Arthritis
  • Cruciate ligaments
  • Patella (kneecaps)
  • Not blocked

There are hundreds of possible health issues that your vet is checking.  That's why it takes so long to become a vet. Early detection of health problems is in both the pet's and owner's interests.

Questions your vet asks at an annual health check

The vet will ask the owner special questions during the consult to increase the amount of information he/she has in hand about your pet's general health. By the time the vet gives an annual or bi-annual vaccine, a lot of ground has been covered and you can be happy that your pet has had a thorough check-up and is in good shape.

Questions a vet asks to help assess a pet's general health

  • Any coughing or shortness of breath?
  • Any lameness or stiffness after rest?
  • Any change in the amount of water being drunk?
  • Any change in appetite?
  • Any vomiting or diarrhoea?
  • Have you missed any heartworm or intestinal wormings?
  • Anything about the pet that concerns the owner?

Annual health checks make good sense for pets and owners

See also...
Pet age calculator
Senior pet health checks