CHESAPEAKE, Va. — A happy dog is a healthy dog, and we want to give you a crash course on how to keep your dog well throughout their life.

“In the early part of their lives we’re looking at doing good preventative medicine, keeping our vaccines current for diseases that they may be prone to being exposed to, heartworm preventative, flea and tick preventatives, continue that life long,” says veterinarian Dr. Denette Cook.

The next step after successfully keeping on top of those needs of your pet is to figure out a way to stay away from coming to the vet, keeping them healthy.

“I usually recommend to owners, keeping them thin, that is ideal. Making sure those teeth look good, so continuing to brush their teeth and what not and then periodically doing bloodwork and urinalysis,” says Dr. Cook.

Just as it is important for us humans to get yearly physical checkups, it is equally if not more important that our pets get those checkups as well, except for them, it should come twice a year.

“Biannual wellness visit, that is something I highly recommend because every year that a dog lives is like seven human years. So if we only see them once a year there are a lot of small changes that may seem subtle to the owner but we are going to pick up on it.”

RELATED: BENTLEY'S CORNER: Pet insurance

She adds, “Things that we are looking for, the health of the teeth, the weight, in particular, the weight, how are we moving and shifting, if they are starting to favor a leg different from when they were younger, compensatory changes that may now affect a different part of the body."

What goes into your dog eventually affects their overall health. A good, healthy diet is critical. As your dog ages, you should feed them food based on where they are in their lives.

“Most owners will feed the exact same food as they did when they were puppies. This is what he eats,” Dr. Cook explains.

Your dog’s metabolism shifts and changes as they age, they need less food the older they get. As your dog enters their golden years being on top of their health becomes even more important.

“Senior well care is very important because as they age your goal is to not let them get sick but they have more issues with they are slower to jump on the couch, they are slowing down on their walks, they don’t greet you at the door anymore,” says Dr. Cook.

RELATED: BENTLEY'S CORNER: Pet's oral care

You may think they are just old but it really is their bodies keeping them from doing those things and holding them back.

There are numerous treatments and procedures aimed to help your aging dog, chiropractic, acupuncture, and laser therapy are just a few. 

On your next well visit ask your vet what are some things you can do to help your dog out in their later years.