Owning a dog is a truly rewarding experience and one that comes with great responsibility. As a pet parent, one of the most important factors you’ll need to pay attention to is the health and wellness of your furry friend.
This includes elements such as their daily routine, what kind of food they eat, the amount of exercise they get and how often they visit the veterinarian.
Visiting the veterinarian is crucial to help your pet maintain their health and catch any potential problems early. But, you may be wondering about the frequency of your pet’s vet visits and when is the best time to take them.
In this article, we’re going to answer the question: How often should I take my dog to the vet?
Let’s dig in!
How Often Should You Take Your Dog To The Vet?
When considering veterinarian visits for your pup, there isn’t a standard approach to how often they should go. Every pet parent is different and each dog is different.
Just like humans, some dogs may need to visit the vet more frequently while others may only need a yearly checkup. But, here are some basic rules to remember.
Every Dog Needs a Yearly Checkup
Even if your dog is in great health, a yearly checkup is crucial to staying up to date with their health. You wouldn’t skip your annual physical, would you? Well, the same principle applies for your pup.
A yearly exam is imperative to ensure that your dog is healthy and to proactively catch any issues before they become more serious.
Once a year is the standard for any dog owner, but let’s break it down even further and discuss how often puppies, adult dogs and senior dogs should visit the vet.
How Often Should I Bring My Puppy To The Vet?
Puppies need to visit the veterinarian more often at the beginning of their life for several reasons including vaccines and overall wellness checkups.
When your puppy is 2 to 3 weeks old, you will bring them in for their first checkup to examine their overall health and give them dewormer medication.
Then, you’ll bring your puppy in at around 6 to 8 weeks old for their first set of vaccinations.
For vaccines, your puppy may have already received their initial vaccine from the breeder or shelter. If this is the case, it’s important to ensure that you have this paperwork readily available for your veterinarian to see.
They’ll need to begin receiving the rest of their vaccines every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 to 20 weeks old.
Your puppy will receive the DHPP core vaccine as well as their rabies vaccination as it is required by law. The DHPP vaccine helps protect against distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus and kennel cough. They will also receive heart worm medication and a microchip.
In addition to vaccines, your veterinarian will check the overall health and wellness of your puppy including their teeth, flea and tick preventions and whether you’d like to have them spayed or neutered.
Puppy checkups are imperative to ensure that your furry friend is growing up healthy and happy. And, finding a veterinarian that you trust allows your pet to feel secure and comfortable for any and all visits they may need.
How Often Should I Bring My Adult Dog To The Vet?
Adult Dogs need to visit the veterinarian less frequently. This is usually once a year for an overall health checkup and potentially another visit for specific wellness procedures such as a dental cleaning.
As a general standard, your adult dog needs to get their DHPP and rabies booster vaccines every one to three years. But, it’s best to check with your veterinarian on when to have these scheduled.
Bringing your adult dog into the veterinarian for yearly health and wellness checkups is more important than most pet parents realize. During these visits, your veterinarian will check for common issues and potential markers for illness. They’ll look at your pet’s teeth, weight, listen to their heart and lungs — all standard checks that we humans receive from our doctors.
A wellness checkup can detect issues early therefore it’s important to bring your dog to the veterinarian yearly to stay on top of their overall health.
How Often Should I Bring My Senior Dog To The Vet?
Lastly, senior dogs should be taken to the veterinarian at least twice per year. This is because senior dogs are more prone to health issues, therefore you want your vet to stay on top of any potential markers that may develop.
Every dog is different when it comes to their aging process. Some breeds are more prone to issues such as cancer, diabetes and thyroid disease which would require more intense monitoring and treatment.
Additionally, larger breeds tend to have a shorter lifespan than smaller dogs, so you want to bring them to the vet more often to monitor any health changes, usually starting around 7 years old.
At these visits, you can expect more detailed procedures that may include bloodwork, urine tests and x-rays of your pet. Your veterinarian will also monitor their weight, do a physical exam and ask you questions about their diet and any change in habits such as peeing more frequently, increasing their water intake or losing weight rapidly.
X-rays can be helpful in detecting issues that are often found in senior pets such as cancer or arthritis.
Additionally, blood work and urine tests will allow the vet to do a full workup and give a big picture of your dog’s overall health such as the function of their liver, kidneys and other organs.
Again, all dogs are different, so this doesn’t mean that your dog is guaranteed to develop health issues as they age. But, regular veterinarian check ups will simply give you a look into your pet’s overall health and allow you to feel confident that you are doing everything right.
How To Afford Veterinarian Visits
Veterinarian check ups are vital to maintaining your pet’s health, but many pet parents can struggle to afford these visits. So, how can you balance ensuring that your pet is doing well without depleting your finances? The answer is pet insurance.
With a comprehensive pet insurance plan, you can purchase coverage that is best suited for your dog and your wallet. A pet insurance plan offsets the costs of veterinary care while making you feel confident that you can always afford to give your pet the care and attention they deserve.
While most pet insurance plans don't cover routine care, adding a wellness option to your plan is the best way to help you cover the expenses associated with annual wellness exams.
You Should Take Your Dog To The Vet At Least Once Per Year
As you can see, the golden standard for veterinary care for your furry friend is an annual health and wellness checkup. As your pet grows and ages, the frequency and purpose of vet visits will change, but the overall goal is to keep your pet healthy to live a long and happy life.
Bringing your pet to the veterinarian is not only important for their health, but gives you peace of mind as a pet parent to know that you are taking care of them in the best way possible.