Finding a vet is one of many considerations when deciding whether or not to buy an animal companion. Every pet parent cares about their pet’s health and needs a reputable vet practice to take them to annual wellness exams.
You might also wonder how often you’ll need to take your dog to the vet once you get your new puppy home with you. You’ll probably have even more questions than that, though. How much should you feed your dog at first? How often do they need routine wellness exams? When do they need their next booster shots? Should I invest in pet insurance to help cover vet visits for my new furry friend? Will that save money on vet visits over the long run?
According to veterinarian Randy Wheeler, executive director of the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, your dog’s age, any chronic health conditions, where your dog lives, and its breed all play a role in how often you should take him to the vet. However, a “general rule” is unheard of in his book. Some dog breeds with health issues will visit their vet regularly, whereas some healthy adult dogs really only need a yearly checkup.
The American Animal Hospital Association says that all pets should be examined at least once a year, which may support his argument. However, Wheeler’s conditions may necessitate more frequent visits for some pets, especially older adult dogs. Senior dogs simply have more needs than puppies do, and will require more frequent vet visits.
One of his most important pieces of advice is to form a close bond with your veterinarian so that you have someone to turn to in an emergency. In addition, they’ll be able to tell you with certainty when it’s time to take your dog to the vet.
Based on your pup’s age, the following is a general guide to how frequently you should take him to the vet.
Visiting a Puppy Vet
For the first six months of your dog’s life, you may see his veterinarian every month, according to Wheeler. Puppies need a lot more in their early life than older dogs do; plus it’s great to develop a positive relationship with your veterinarian early so that his annual checkups are always a pleasure for everyone involved.
The main reason: are immunizations and vaccinations. But when your dog is 6–8 weeks old, they also require rabies boosters, tick prevention, intestinal parasites screening, and much more. If you want to keep your dog healthy, making sure you complete these regular checkups will guarantee that their general health is consistent through their adult years. After all, you want your new pet to live a happy life long through their senior years.
According to the American Kennel Club, distemper and parvovirus vaccines are the first recommended vaccines (AKC). The DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus) vaccine should be given to your puppy between 10 and 12 weeks. The AKC recommends a second DHPP injection six weeks after the first rabies injection.
Flea and tick preventatives will be prescribed, and your veterinarian will also check for signs of heartworm disease during these visits. Wheeler recommends neutering your dog when he is 6–9 months old.
Visiting an Adult Dog Vet
You’ll still need to regularly take your dog to the vet if they are between 1 and 8 years old. For healthy dogs, once per year may suffice. More visits may be necessary depending on your dog’s breed or underlying health issues; consult with your veterinarian to find out what the best course of action is.
Every 1–3 years, your dog will require a booster dose of rabies and DHPP vaccines. Depending on where you live, he may need additional supplies. In addition, vaccination against Lyme disease may be appropriate for dogs who live near such areas, Wheeler advises.
Vets can also examine your dog’s teeth during routine examinations. However, Wheeler warns that bacteria and infections in dogs’ teeth can spread to vital organs like the liver and kidneys.
In his opinion, “dental health in our pets is critical and often overlooked,” he adds. “It’s getting more attention.”
As you may have guessed, bad breath is also caused by unclean teeth, which stink. You can ask your veterinarian for advice on how to stop it. Additionally, your veterinarian can conduct blood tests to look for signs of illness in your dog’s system and recommend diet changes if your pet is overweight.
Visiting a Senior Dog Vet
When your dog reaches the age of eight, you’ll likely see your veterinarian twice a year for a healthy dog.
Your vet will perform regular dental exams to monitor your dog’s teeth as they age. In addition, they’ll run additional tests on your dog’s blood and consider making adjustments to his diet, such as switching to a lower-calorie formula.
Because of all the preventative care you’ve been providing for years, you can expect your dog to be more comfortable in the latter stages of its life. Preventive veterinary care can be pricey, but in the long run, it will save you money if your pet avoids major procedures or illnesses, says Wheeler.
Wheeler warns that your dog may not receive all the care he needs if he visits vaccine-only clinics or clinics specializing in spaying and neutering. He says, “You often get what you’re paying for.”
Final thoughts on how often should you take your dog to the vet
The answer to this question can vary depending on your dog’s age and breed mainly. Other factors to consider are if your dog has been exposed to any dangerous diseases, has trouble breathing, shows evidence of kennel cough (which they could pick up at doggy daycare), is experiencing evident joint pain, if they’re ever vomiting blood, or if they have contact with a toxic substance, for example, rat poison.
You will want to get to your vet immediately in these instances for diagnostic tests, which may involve blood work, stool samples, or urine tests. After taking a blood sample, your vet will perform a physical exam to try and determine the underlying cause of your pet’s issues. If you want to keep your pet healthy, never be afraid of contacting your vet or taking your pet for a vet visit – it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your dog’s health!
FAQS (FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS)
DO I TAKE MY DOG TO THE VET TOO OFTEN?
A complete physical exam for all dogs should be performed at least once a year. Think of it as an essential part of your dog’s routine care. It’s an excellent opportunity to keep tabs on your dog’s progress and voice any concerns you have with your veterinarian during these so-called “wellness exams.” Preventative care includes regular checkups, which should be scheduled at least once a year.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU BATHE YOUR DOG?
Most dogs that are otherwise healthy and free of skin issues don’t need to be bathed very often. Dog baths are almost always performed more for the owners’ convenience than for the dogs themselves. However, bathing your dog every two to three months is still a good idea. An excellent opportunity to check for skin problems or lumps that could indicate a more serious health issue is when you bathe your dog.
HOW OFTEN DO DOGS NEED SHOTS?
A series of vaccinations should begin as soon as a puppy is old enough to be separated from its mother. First-round shots are typically taken care of when you buy your puppy from a reputable breeder, and you’ll be responsible for boosters. A shelter adoption is generally the same. If you don’t, you should get your pup’s first set of shots as soon as you get them home and before letting them interact with other dogs. Every one to three years, adult dogs need to be re-vaccinated against the diseases they were vaccinated against as puppies.
Is it necessary to take dog to vet every year?
Once a cat or dog turns one year old, they usually only need to go to the veterinarian. The animals will have a thorough physical examination to look for any symptoms of concern during this annual visit.