How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?

Filed in Dog Health on October 4, 2021

How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet

As a dog owner, keeping up with your pet’s veterinary needs can be challenging.

You know that your dog needs to see the vet when they’re sick, but you should also be taking them for regular wellness exams. Wellness exams are an essential part of your dog’s long-term health and preventative care.

These appointments help your veterinarian assess your pet’s overall health and can be key in the early detection of disease.

The average adult dog should see the vet at least once a year. However, more frequent vet visits may be necessary if you have a puppy or a dog over the age of 7.

So, let’s talk about often you should be taking your dog to the vet and what you can expect from those visits.

What Is a Wellness Exam?

two dogs on vet clinic

Vets checking up two dogs.

Many pet owners only think about taking their dog to the vet when their pet is sick. However, regular health checkups are just as important.

These checkups are often referred to as wellness exams or wellness visits. During these appointments, your veterinarian will assess your pet’s overall health, administer any necessary vaccines, and discuss any questions you may have.

The annual wellness exam is a critical part of your dog’s preventative health plan. Preventative health focuses on improving your pet’s overall wellbeing to decrease the risk of disease.

By scheduling regular appointments, your vet can make recommendations to help you improve your pet’s health. Their assessments are also essential for monitoring early signs and risk factors for disease.

How often you will need to take your dog to the vet will depend on your dog’s age and health status. Age will also affect what your dog will need during a wellness appointment.

All dogs can expect a complete physical exam. However, additional vaccines or tests may be necessary based on your pet’s stage of life.

How Often Should Puppies Go to the Vet?

dog vaccination

Puppy getting a vaccination.

If you have a new puppy, be prepared to spend a lot of time at your vet’s office. This is because puppies require a series of vaccinations to build immunity to disease.

Puppies require their first set of vaccines between 6 and 8 weeks of age. After the initial dose, they will need a booster dose every 2-4 weeks until they are at least 16 weeks old.

For most puppies, this means a vet appointment at 8,12, and 16 weeks old.

While this may seem like a lot of trips to the vet, these appointments are extremely important. Not only will your pup be receiving their required vaccines, but they will also be getting a complete health checkup.

During these visits, your vet will listen to your puppy’s heart and lungs, checking for any abnormalities. They will also do a thorough exam of their eyes and ears.

Parasites are a common problem amongst puppies, so puppy wellness exams routinely include fecal exams. Your veterinarian may recommend a deworming treatment and will also start your dog on monthly preventatives.

Most dogs will be prescribed a heartworm preventative and a topical or oral medication to prevent fleas and ticks.

The dose of your dog’s monthly preventatives is based on your pet’s weight. Because your puppy’s weight can rapidly change as they grow, your vet may recommend you bring your dog in monthly for a quick weigh-in.

This will ensure you are giving your dog the proper dose and is a good way of tracking your pet’s growth.

Not only are puppy wellness appointments essential for your puppy’s health, but they can also be very informative for new pet owners. Wellness appointments are a great time to discuss any concerns you may have about your pet’s health or behavior.

How Often Should Adult Dogs Go to the Vet?

Healthy adult dogs require significantly fewer veterinary visits than puppies. Once your dog is a year old, healthy dogs will only need to go to the vet once a year.

During this yearly exam, your veterinarian will do a complete physical exam and administer any necessary vaccines.

Some veterinarians offer vaccines that only need to be administered every three years. However, this doesn’t mean you can skip your annual wellness exam. These yearly exams are critical for monitoring any changes in your pet’s health. When your pet’s health conditions are not caught early, they can become more serious and challenging to treat.

How Often Should Older Dogs Go to the Vet?

drawing blood from dog

Drawing blood sample from a dog.

As your dog gets older, they’re at greater risk of developing health issues. For this reason, many vets recommend increasing the frequency of your wellness exams.

The American Veterinary Medical Association considers any dog over the age of 7 to be “senior.” Large breed dogs, such as Great Danes, typically have a shorter life span and may be considered senior citizens around 5-6 years old.

Not only will the frequency of your pet’s vet visits change as they get older, but the care they need may also change. One of the first things vets recommend in aging dogs is a full-blood panel.

This bloodwork can help detect early signs of kidney disease, liver failure, and even cancer.

Another consideration for aging dogs is advanced imaging. This includes ultrasounds and X-rays. Although most pet owners think of this kind of imaging when something is wrong with their pet, it can be a part of their routine health screening.

As your dog gets older, imaging can be a valuable tool for monitoring changes in your pet’s body and early detection of diseases such as cancer. The earlier these conditions are caught, the more options you may have for treating your pet.

Summary on How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet

Regular veterinary care is essential for your pet’s long-term health. However, how often your pet will need to go to the vet will depend on your dog’s age and overall health.

Most dogs require a yearly wellness visit. However, puppies and senior dogs need more frequent care. If your pet has a medical condition or is sick, they may require more frequent visits.

I hope you find this article to be a helpful guide in planning your pet’s veterinary care. If you have additional concerns about what is appropriate for your pup, don’t hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian.

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