How Often Should I Take My Dog to The Vet? The Answers to All Your Questions!
Regular vet visits are paramount for your dog’s health. Dogs need to go to emergency and primary care checkups to stay healthy and have a better chance at leading longer lives. So when should you take your canine buddy to the vet?
Puppies should go to the vet monthly for the first six months to get vaccinated against several diseases and visit once a year as adults. Seniors should visit every six months. However, if your pet experiences choking, difficulty breathing, eye & bone injuries, seizures, heatstroke, inability to urinate or defecate, severe bleeding, vomiting or diarrhea, unconsciousness, physical pain, or poison ingestion, take them to see a doctor immediately.
In this article, we will discuss how often dogs should go to the vet based on their age. We’ll also look at when you should take them in immediately and when they can wait.
What Are Routine Wellness Exams?
A routine wellness exam allows you to track your dog’s growth, discuss concerns with your vet, and prevent potential problems. Healthy adult dogs are recommended to have these, but dogs with health problems, senior dogs, and puppies need them more often. Most essentially, annual examinations are essential to preventative care, which include:
- Regular vet checkups
- Maintaining good nutrition
- Appropriate exercise
The idea behind routine wellness exams is that they can help you make informed choices about your pet’s health. You may also discover illnesses or issues earlier than you would otherwise, which can be crucial to successful treatment.
How Often Should You Bring Your Dog to the Vet?
Your dog’s vet visit frequency is dependent on various criteria such as age, preexisting health problems, environment, and breed. Depending on your puppy’s age, here is how often you should take them to the vet.
Puppy Vet Visits
Your furry companion might go to the vet more times in his first year than any other year, potentially monthly for the first half-year. When you take your puppy to the vet, you will learn important things about their nutrition, growth, behavior, socialization, and training – all of which are vital for a happy and healthy pup. Your vet will properly examine your furry friend during these visits and recommend tick & flea preventatives, and also look for heartworm symptoms.
The primary purpose for these visits is:
According to AKC (American Kennel Club), vaccination starts when your pup is 6–8 weeks old with vaccines against parvovirus & distemper. After becoming 10–12 weeks old, vaccination against (DHPP) starts:
Six months after the initial vaccinations, the first rabies shot is given along with a second DHPP shot. Keeping in view your buddy’s location, lifestyle, and health risks your veterinarian may also suggest vaccinations against:
- Lyme disease
- Canine flu
Spaying or Neutering
If you opt to have your puppy spayed or neutered, you’ll need to bring them back to the vet after their vaccine series is done. The best time for the procedure varies depending on factors like your pup’s sex and breed, but it usually falls between six and 24 months old.
Adult Dog Vet Visits
Even when your dog is middle-aged (between 1-8 years old), it’s essential to take them for vet visits. If they are healthy, annual vet visits will be sufficient. However, this number of visits may change depending on the breed or health of your dog. Still, your pooch will require DHPP vaccines & booster shots for rabies every 1-3 years.
The foremost part of your buddy’s yearly checkup is the physical exam. Your vet will do a complete examination from their tail to nose, including:
- Checking their weight
- Taking vitals
- Listening to their lungs & heart
- Checking for any bumps or lumps
- A fecal test to check for intestinal parasites
- Examining their joint health, dental health, and bone health.
Your vet will recommend tests or treatment if they believe there is something to be concerned about.
Senior Dog Vet Visits
When your dog becomes a senior (around age eight or above), you should visit the vet every six months for checkups. As the dog’s age increases, it becomes more vulnerable to injury and illness. That’s why it’s important to take them for semi-annual checkups with the vet. This way, any issues can be detected early and addressed before they cause problems.
During these wellness visits, your four-leg friend will undergo a complete physical exam. Your vet will focus on areas that are typical health concerns for older dogs. For instance:
- Your vet will evaluate your dog’s teeth and tell you what else you can do to improve their oral health.
- They’ll assess your dog’s weight to make sure they’re at a healthy number and also look for any mobility issues or joint pain that they might have.
- Your veterinarian may suggest running blood and urine tests yearly to monitor internal organ function.
- Your veterinarian will likely recommend either vaccine boosters or parasite control based on your dog’s health and the risks they may face during a regular visit.
When To Immediately Take Your Dog to the Vet
Our biggest hope is that your furry friend only needs to go to the vet for routine checkups. However, sometimes emergencies occur. Knowing what signs to look for will help you act quickly in those situations.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends immediate vet visits if your dog counter following pet health emergencies:
- Choking or nonstop coughing and gagging
- Injuries to eyes
- Seizures and/or staggering
- Heat stress or heatstroke
- Hard or swollen abdomen
- Not drinking or eating for 24 hours or more
- Physical pain or discomfort or extreme anxiety
- Ingested something poisonous (for example, antifreeze, xylitol, cherries, chocolate, rodent poison). Check out our food page for safe doggy foods.
- Difficulty in urination or defecation
- Broken bones, intense limping, or being unable to move one or both legs
- Blood from the nose, mouth, rectum, and in urine
- Severe nonstop bleeding
- More than two episodes of vomiting or diarrhea within a 24-hour period, either of these in combination with any other problem from the list here.
Common Dog Behaviors
Sometimes, you may not need to rush off to a vet immediately. Certain behaviors and conditions are common in dogs, especially puppies, and can resolve themselves without any specific medical attention. Some of the most common ones include:
Dogs learn bad habits, such as guarding food and possessions, jumping on people, climbing on furniture, and taking over beds, when we praise or reward them for these behaviors.
To prevent your dog from doing these things, you must be clear about what is allowed and consistently enforce the rules.
You should also ensure your dog feels comfortable and safe by providing enough food so they don’t have to compete for it.
Many common dog behaviors, such as excavating, chewing, following prey drive, and wallowing in grime or feces, are natural to them. Even though you may find some of these activities unappealing, they come instinctively to dogs.
While you can train your dog to lessen or eliminate these undesirable habits, it will take time and effort.
Eating cat poop (coprophagia) is a typical natural behavior in dogs, although it can be gross and unpleasant. Giving your dog plenty of mental & physical stimulation can help minimize this behavior.
It’s not uncommon for dogs to munch on grass when their stomachs feel uneasy. If this happens every so often, don’t get worried.
If your dog appears nervous or shy around new people or other animals, they may yawn, lick their nose excessively, shake off and pull their ears back against their head.
Aggressive dogs may have started out as being nervous, so if you see this behavior in your dog, warn people ahead of time.
Anxious & Fearful Behavior
Puppies and adult dogs may show signs of anxiety or fear in certain situations, such as around loud noises or when meeting new people.
A crucial element of dog ownership is creating a safe and nurturing environment for your pup to grow and learn.
Gradual exposure to new people and environments can help them get used to these situations and reduce their fear.
Growling and Biting
Your dog may express aggression or fear through biting & growling. If you notice your pet getting snippy with other animals or people, start by trying to determine the root cause of the problem.
Often, aggression in dogs is caused by a lack of mental stimulation. If a regular training routine doesn’t seem to help, reach out to a certified animal behaviorist for assistance. Getting them an indestructible toy or a puzzle toy may help to keep them entertained and occupied.
Final Thoughts – How Often Should I Take My Dog To The Vet
Multiple factors, like health, breed, and age, determine how often you should visit the vet for your pet’s checkup. However, sometimes understanding and giving love and support is all you can do for some common behaviors or conditions. If you’re ever unsure about specific behavior or condition, seek professional advice from your vet.