As pet parents, our primary responsibility is to take care of our furry little guys and gals. Unfortunately, this often includes things they might not enjoy very much, such as vet visits. It is not uncommon for pet parents often wonder, "how often should I take my dog to the vet?" unaware that the answer is not nearly as black and white as they expect.
Your veterinarian is there to assist you in keeping your pet happy and healthy, and they likely have the job because they want to see animals thrive and care about them on a personal level! There isn't an established rule on how often you should take your dog to the vet. It all depends on the pup's health, age, and whether or not they're due for a vaccine. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about vet visits.
Why Is It Important to Take My Dog to the Vet?
Because it is so important to make sure vaccinations are up to date and everything is okay, all dogs should get checked regularly. However, the frequency with which you bring your dog to the vet will largely depend on the age and lifestyle of the dog breed in question.
Regular visits are crucial to get the maximum help. From checking up on the progress to setting result baselines, a communicative relationship between you, your dog, and your vet will be crucial for dealing with any potential health problems your furry four-legged friend may experience.
Most pet owners only take their pets to the vet when something has happened or when they feel sick. However, keeping up with regular vet visits is an important factor in your pet's overall health. Just like humans, pets need general check-ups too.
Why Are Routine Vet Visits So Important?
Some pet owners believe that there isn't a reason to bring their pet to the vet unless there is already something wrong, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Bringing your pet to the vet for a general check-up now and then is extremely important.
Routine visits can help vets pick up on any underlying conditions that your pet may be afflicted with later on and determine exactly how your four-legged friend is progressing through life. If your dog has a serious issue that you aren't aware of, your veterinarian may be able to spot the problem and either slow the condition down or either correct it.
How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?
Dogs should generally be brought in for a complete physical check-up at least once per year. It may help if you think of this as routine maintenance for your canine companion. As we mentioned, the regularity you will need to take your dog to the vet depends on your dog's general health and current life stage. To provide an example, senior dogs and puppies both need more regular and frequent visits, while a healthy adult dog may only require annual check-ups.
If you're anxious about the cost of vet visits, it may help to remember that preventative health care is meant to keep your sweet pup healthier for longer and may potentially save you money in the long term.
Newborn Pups to One Year
When you first bring home a puppy, expect to become very well acquainted with your vet! Experts often recommend monthly wellness exams while they are puppies. Following a basic vaccine schedule, expect to bring them into the vet roughly once every 3–4 weeks until they're about 16 weeks old.
Below we have provided a basic vaccination schedule for pups:
- 6–8 weeks: The first DHLPPC shot is a combined vaccine for corona, parvo, parainfluenza, leptospirosis, hepatitis, and distemper. This one is given at several vet visits for your puppy's first year.
- 10–12 weeks: DHLPPC shot #2.
- 12–24 weeks: Rabies shot.
- 14–16 weeks: DHLPPC shot #3.
Adult dogs will typically require yearly wellness exams. As your dog climbs the ladder of age, the annual check-up will start to include vaccination updates, a dental exam, and often a routine head-to-tail inspection.
The vet may also ask about your dog's training, behavior, and overall wellness during an annual exam. Depending on observations the vet makes during the exam or concerns you bring up, they may recommend other treatments or tests.
Ideally, you'll form a productive and friendly relationship with your veterinarian over time. And if your dog isn't a big fan of visits to the vet, at least you only have to go in once a year so long as your dog stays healthy!
Dogs that fall on the senior end of the age spectrum are more prone to age-related injury and illness, so they typically have more particular health needs. For this reason, senior dogs should see the vet approximately every six months.
Your vet may recommend various diagnostic tests, which often include annual blood testing for senior dogs. Diagnostic tests can provide a baseline to compare future tests with and help the vet assess your dog's health. In the event that your dog develops an illness later on, the vet can simply go back and see what your dog's "normal" looks like.
Depending on your dog's health as it gets older, your vet may begin recommending more frequent visits. The more frequently you visit the vet, the quicker they'll be able to catch changes and the more time they'll have to treat issues as they arise.
What is an Annual Wellness Exam for Dogs?
These wellness exams will give you a chance to discuss any concerns with your vet and track your dog's growth and development. Everything you do to take care of your pup falls under the umbrella of preventative dog care: regular vet care, appropriate exercise, and good nutrition.
The idea is that you can make informed choices that benefit their health by taking your dog for routine wellness exams. You'll also find out about issues or conditions relatively early, which can be the key to a successful treatment. Annual examinations are an essential part of preventative care. During annual wellness exams, your dog will receive an all-over check-up. Your vet will likely listen to their heart and lungs, look at their ears and eyes, inspect their coat for fleas, etc.
They'll also update any vaccinations that require updating. Once the exam is done, the vet may make suggestions concerning your dog's dental care and nutrition or potentially give you recommendations for medications and activities specific to your pup's health status.
When to Contact the Vet Right Away
The typical annual and semi-annual visits would be the only veterinary attention your dog needs in an ideal world. But in our occasionally un-ideal world, emergencies can come up. Knowing the signs can allow you to make a snap decision during the crucial first moments of an emergency.
If your dog displays any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately:
- Shows signs of extreme pain (refusing to socialize, shaking, or whining).
- Is unconscious and won't wake up.
- Has been hit by a car or a blunt object falling more than a few feet.
- Your dog has diarrhea or has been vomiting for more than 24 hours.
- Vomiting blood.
- Suddenly disoriented.
- Has a swollen, hard abdomen.
- You think they may have broken bones.
- Has pale gums.
- Suddenly collapses or can't stand up.
- Has ingested something toxic like medication meant for people, antifreeze, or human foods such as chewing gum or chocolate.
- Trouble breathing or has stopped breathing.
What Happens If I Never Take My Dog to the Vet?
Checking in on and ensuring your pet's health and wellbeing is the main purpose of an annual veterinary visit. The training that veterinarians receive prepares them to spot any potential medical issues early on.
For many conditions, the earlier you start treatment, the easier and faster recovery will be for your pet. Also, in most cases, the needed treatments once conditions progress will be substantially more expensive than early preventative treatments.
Some conditions' symptoms grow worse over time, so you can save your pet some pain by catching problems early. The problem may not seem severe in the moment, but treating it early can potentially save your pet from debilitation and pain later on down the road.
Your veterinarian will also make any recommendations that they feel would be beneficial after talking to you about your pet's current care. Veterinarians are the experts, and they have the latest information concerning the care of domestic animals. Therefore, they will let you know about new treatments and products. This ensures that you have all the information you need to care for your pet.
What If My Dog Hates The Vet?
In this instance, the best thing you can do is try and make vet visits as positive an experience as possible. If your pup is food-motivated, perhaps plan a vet visit when you know they'll be hungry, providing them with a high-value CBD dog treat as a reward for good behavior and staying calm. We suggest peanut butter and spray cheese for their portability!
Sometimes the various treats your canine companion receives at the vet's office are enough to entice a fussy dog. We also suggest attempting to wear your dog out before a vet visit. A romp at the park, a long walk, or even an hour at the dog park will provide your pup enough exercise. It'll also likely tucker them out enough to keep them less concerned and better behaved at their exam.
Final Thoughts - How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?
Here at Hollistapet, we care about your pet. This article should leave you with insight into 'How often should I take my dog to the vet. 'Nobody knows your dog quite as you do. If you believe your dog needs to see a vet, don't be afraid to take them!
Veterinarians want to help; if they weren't interested in helping you and your animals, they likely would have chosen a different career path. It is their job to get the best outcome possible for your four-legged furry friend. We urge you not to be afraid to ask them questions. All questions are relevant!