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How Often Should I Take My Dog To The Vet?

If you have a dog, you may wonder how often I should take them to the vet? Many people just take their dogs to the vet when they are sick. But there are many preventative measures that you can take to help keep your dog healthy and happy, and taking your dog to the vet is certainly one of them!

Most health experts agree that a dog should see the veterinarian for a routine health checkup at least twice a year. Puppies and senior dogs will need more frequent checkups to ensure they are healthy and developing correctly.

With that in mind, let’s learn a bit more about the recommended frequency for taking your dog to see the vet based on their age!

How often do puppies need to see a vet?

When you first get your dog, they will need to go every 3 to 4 weeks starting at 6 weeks old until they are fully vaccinated. Puppies are usually fully vaccinated around 16 weeks.

After this, they will just need to see a vet every 6 months for routine health checks, vaccine boosters, and examinations from your vet. 

Your puppy will need to get a series of vaccines and boosters. They will also need a fecal exam to make sure that they do not have any parasites that can spread to other pets and even you.

At these visits, your vet can discuss any training and behavioral issues that you may have with your puppy. 

After they finish their puppy vaccine series, you may want to spay or neuter your dog. For small to average-sized breeds, this is usually done around 6 months of age.

However, pet parents of giant breeds such as Great Danes should wait until they are more mature before spaying or neutering. 

golden retriever on veterinarian table

When do adult dogs need to see a vet?

Adult dogs will not need to see the vet as much as puppies. Most young adult dogs tend to be very healthy and, unless they are showing signs of illness, will not need to see a vet but at their routine visits.  

Many young adult dogs have to see a vet because they ate something that they should not have, causing them to have an upset stomach. If you suspect that your dog has eaten something they should not have, it is best to have them seen right away. 

Your dog should receive a physical exam by your vet at least every 6 months. If your dog spends a lot of time outside, your vet may recommend fecal examinations.

At these visits, your vet will update any vaccines that they need and make sure that there are free of heartworms

During these exams, you can alert your vet about any change in behavior or health.

You can discuss feeding and making sure that your pet stays at a healthy weight. You can also discuss any behavioral issues or other issues that you are noticing in your dog. 

A dog being seen every 6 months is the same as a person seeing their doctor every 3 years.

close-up of old dog with white face

When do senior dogs need to see a vet?

Most dogs are considered to be seniors around 7 years old. However, giant breed dogs are considered senior at 5 years.

At this age, you should consider more frequent vet visits and yearly or bi-yearly bloodwork to make sure that there are not any underlying issues. 

Most vets will recommend that your dog should have bloodwork to check liver and kidney values every year. Many times, your vet can detect early indications that something is wrong with your dog.

They can start your dog on supplements, change in diets or even start treatment when they notice these issues. 

If your older dog has a medical issue such as diabetes, heart failure, or kidney disease, they should see your vet every few months. Your vet may want to run bloodwork or other tests to see how their disease is progressing and if any adjustments to their medication need to be made.

These frequent visits help your vet see if your dog’s condition is worsening and make sure that the medication that they are taking is helping them. 

When do I need to take my dog to the vet right away?

In between these regular vet visits, there may also be situations that dictate an ad hoc visit as well.

If your dog is showing any of the following signs, you should get them in to see the vet sooner rather than later:

  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Not eating
  • Not able to walk
  • Bleeding
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Collapsed

For any of these signs, your dog should see a vet right away and not delay an examination until their next visit.

If you have questions about training, weight loss, or any minor behavioral issues, these things can wait until your dog’s next visit to discuss with your vet. 

Why does my dog need to see a vet if they are not sick?

Preventative maintenance can help keep your dog healthy and happy for longer. Your dog will need the initial vaccines that will help protect them from deadly diseases such as distemper and parvovirus.

They will also need to spay or neuter to help prevent unwanted pregnancies, uterine infections, and behavioral issues. 

Having your vet examine your dog each year will help them identify any underlying disease.

Many times, your vet will notice a mass, change in weight, or a decaying tooth that can be addressed before it becomes a bigger issue for your to have to deal with. 

Preventative care is the best way to ensure that your dog lives a long and healthy life!

Final Thoughts on Vet Visit Frequency

You should plan on taking your dog to the vet at least every 6 months for a health checkup.  If you notice anything wrong with your dog, they should be seen sooner.

You know your dog best if you think that there is something off. It should not wait until their next scheduled exam, and you should have your vet examine your dog right away.

By providing your dog with the proper preventative care, you can help them live a long and healthy life!

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