Preventive Care for Dogs: A Guide to Your Pup’s Wellness

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6 min read
6 min read

Updated - Jan 26th, 2024

Key points
  • Preventive care is important for all dogs as it helps prevent multiple potential health risks that can develop as dogs age.
  • Puppies, adults, and senior dogs all have distinct preventive care needs.
  • While standard insurance plans can cover accidents & illnesses, adding a wellness package can add another layer of protection for your pet’s health.

“Preventive care” is a term that has many dog parents scratching their heads. What does it mean? Why is it important? You’re committed to giving your furry friend the best life possible, and understanding the value of preventive care is a big part of that commitment. 

In this article, we’ll give you detailed answers to your preventive care questions. Let’s make things like vaccines, annual check-ups, and wellness options a walk in the park. So sit, stay, and read on!

What is preventive care for dogs? 

Preventive care refers to health care and services designed to prevent pet health issues from developing. It’s a proactive form of health care that makes it easier to flag potential dog health issues before they become major problems. Prevention is better than cure, as they say. 

Maintaining a good preventive care routine is essential for your pup’s long-term health. Think of it as a safety net that helps ensure your dog will continue to be able to jump, run, and play without a care in the world. 

Preventive veterinary care often includes the following types of services:


Vaccinations are your pup’s shield against serious invaders and illnesses. Several important core vaccines ward off dangerous diseases like rabies, distemper, and parvovirus, helping your dog to live a longer, healthier life.

Chart showing when to get particular puppy vaccinations

Parasite prevention

Protecting your dog from heartworms, which are spread by mosquitoes, and intestinal parasites, which can lay stealthily in the ground or contaminate food, is crucial. Preventing these parasites from taking over ensures your dog’s immediate comfort and helps safeguard their long-term health.

Fecal tests

These aren’t just random spot-checks — they’re vital disease screening tests. Catching invisible-to-the-eye parasites can help ensure your canine companion’s digestive system stays in prime condition both today and years down the road.

Flea and tick prevention

Keeping those pesky fleas and ticks at bay not only helps prevent your dog from constantly scratching but also helps to keep severe illnesses, like Lyme disease, away. 


Consider regular blood testing and check-ups a necessary part of your dog’s annual health audit. Blood tests can help identify and prevent future health problems plus they give you insight into patterns in your pet’s health.

Full physical exam

Once a year, your vet should give your pet a head-to-tail exam to check for any areas of concern. 

Dental cleaning

Regular dental care helps ensure your dog’s teeth stay gleaming and their gums stay healthy. Plus, a clean mouth significantly reduces the risk of dental diseases and potential health complications down the line.

Grooming & bathing

Regular grooming and bathing is about much more than looks. Every dog breed has unique grooming maintenance needs to prevent their hair from matting, to prevent skin or ear infections, and to prevent bacteria from causing problems. 


Spaying or neutering your dog is a one-time procedure that removes part of the reproductive system. This is often a vet-recommended procedure as it can help prevent cancer, reduce aggression, and avoid unwanted litters of puppies in female dogs.

How often should my dog get preventive care? 

Here’s a simple breakdown by life stage to give you a clear picture of how often your dog should receive preventive care:

  • Puppies: Young pups are like toddlers — always exploring and eating things they shouldn’t! Pups will need to visit the vet frequently in the first few months to receive an initial checkup and all their first-time vaccines.
  • Adult dogs: Imagine an adult dog as your average young professional — stable but still needing an annual health performance review. Your dog needs an annual veterinary visit in this life stage.
  • Senior dogs: Think of older dogs as retirees. They’ve worked hard, played hard, and now they’re enjoying their relaxation. But with advanced age comes the need for more frequent health check-ups, typically two per year.

Each dog is unique, so always ask your vet’s advice to fine-tune your dog’s care calendar.

Does pet insurance cover preventive care for my dog? 

The simple answer is no. Pet insurance plans and preventive care packages or plans are two separate and different things you can invest in for your pet’s health. Let’s dig in a little more.

Many standard pet insurance policies typically won’t include any preventive care services. Pet insurance plans are designed to cover accident and illness care your pet needs throughout their life, not ongoing preventive care.

To help you plan and pay for preventive care services, like vaccinations and check-ups, separate wellness plans are your best option. Here’s where wellness plans can add value when you use them as well as your pet insurance coverage:

Assistance with maintenance: It can be difficult to keep up with regular wellness care in our hectic schedules. Wellness plans encourage you to schedule important routine care — including annual check-ups, vaccines, and even heartworm prevention — to help your pet lead a long, healthy life.

Catch illnesses and diseases early on: The more knowledge you have about your pet’s health the better. Regular preventive care is powerful as it can help you detect and address health issues before they develop into more serious issues. Think of your vet finding a small growth or parasite infection that can be easily treated now, but could become a dangerous or life-threatening problem later on.

Predictable preventive care costs: Routine care can become costly. Instead of facing unexpected vet bills piling up on you, many wellness plans have a predictable monthly fee, which can help prevent financial surprises.

Photo of a large dog with illustrated speech bubbles around him

Why it’s worth adding an optional wellness package, like Pumpkin Preventive Essentials, to your pet insurance plan

Bolstering your pet’s overall coverage by adding an optional wellness package has many benefits for you and your pet. When you combine the two – pet insurance and wellness care – you can be prepared for both sudden accidents and illnesses that may happen, and the ongoing care your pet may need over their life. 

Preventive Essentials is Pumpkin’s wellness package. It’s not insurance, but an optional package you can add to your pet insurance plan if you’d like to get refunds for crucial routine care. 

Pumpkin Preventive Essentials gives dog parents a 100% refund for the following services:

  • Annual wellness exam – This is key for overall health and catching illnesses early.
  • Key vaccines – Any 4 puppy vaccines at the vet in Year 1, or any 2 adult dog vaccines at the vet each year. This is key for protection against dangerous diseases.
  • Parasite screening test – 1 puppy or adult dog’s yearly fecal “poop” test for intestinal worms + 1 adult dog’s yearly blood test for heartworm & tick diseases. This is key for detecting parasite infections early.

Why opt for a wellness package or preventive care plan?

A wellness package has invaluable benefits for your pup, including the following:

  • Early detection: Catch early signs of potential health complications.
  • Vibrant days: Make sure every bark and tail wag comes from a healthy, happy dog.
  • Wallet-friendliness: Sidestep unexpected vet costs. After all, even routine visits can make wallets feel the pinch.

Preventive care is not just important for keeping your dog healthy right now — it’s about making sure that they also have the best future. As a responsible pet parent, consider adding a wellness package to your pet insurance plan for that added layer of protection and peace of mind.

Pumpkin Team

Pumpkin Team

Passionate Pet Experts & Parents
We are a team of writers, designers & product developers who all double as passionate (ok, obsessive) nerds of the pet world.
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