As a dog parent, you do your best to give your canine companion all the attention, love, exercise, and proper nutrition they require. But do you also take your dog to the vet regularly? How often does your dog go for checkups aside from when injured or sick? Like humans, dogs require regular vet checkups as part of their preventative care, which, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), will help your dog to live a longer life. Longer life means more walks, more snuggles, and more time together! But how often should you take your dog to the vet? Let's find out!
How Often Should Your Dog Visit the Vet?
The answer to this question depends on factors like the health conditions and age of the dog. The frequency an adult dog should visit a vet won't be the same as how often a puppy visits the vet. For this article, we will break down a dog's visit to the vet according to age.
How Often Should Your Puppy Visit the Vet?
The recommended time for a puppy to visit the vet is every three to four weeks until they turn sixteen weeks to receive the necessary vaccinations. Vaccinating your puppy fully protects them against diseases. Also, during puppy wellness exams, your veterinarian can start your puppy on heartworm and flea treatments when needed.
According to the American Animal Hospital Association, puppies require five core vaccines. These vaccines are generally administered when the puppies are six to eight weeks old. The basic vaccination schedule looks as follows:
6 to 8 weeks: The first DHPP shot. This is a combined vaccine for adenovirus (hepatitis), distemper, parainfluenza, and parvo. This vaccine is given in a series over the puppy's first year.
10 to 12 weeks: The second DHPP, plus leptospirosis and corona
12 to 24 weeks: Rabies
14 to 16 weeks: The third DHLPP
It's important to remember that your puppy's vaccination schedule and needs may vary depending on their health profile and location. Together with your vet, you can make sure your puppy stays up-to-date on their vaccinations as well as determine when to schedule their wellness exams. In addition to their vaccine schedule, we will also need to test your puppy’s fecal samples at 16 weeks and perform a heartworm test at 6 months. These can be performed at your puppy wellness exams, which are an excellent time for the vet to examine your puppy and see if they are healthy and developing well. Regular wellness exams will give your furry friend a healthy and happy life right from the start.
How Often Should an Adult Dog Visit the Vet?
Once a dog turns one, it is considered an adult, and their vet care needs may change. Unlike the frequent visits that a puppy receives, regular vet checkups for adult dogs should be done yearly. A typical wellness exam for an adult dog may involve taking blood and stool samples for heartworms and parasites.
The vet will also examine the dog from nose to tail. They will also take your dog's vitals, check their weight, and feel for any lumps or bumps. And if any medical concerns arise, the vet may order additional tests or treatments.
Your dog will also receive a booster shot of the combined vaccine a year after completing the puppy series. Other additional shots may be done every three years. This checkup is also an excellent time to talk to your vet about any questions or concerns you may have.
How Often Should a Senior Dog Visit the Vet?
A senior dog is eight years and above. Unlike younger dogs, older dogs are prone to age-related injuries and have particular health needs. For this reason, senior dogs should visit the vet after every six months.
Aside from the regular wellness exams, a senior dog will undergo several diagnostic tests. These tests may include stool and blood tests, ultrasounds, chest radiographs, and blood pressure tests. The diagnostic tests your dog undergoes will help the vet to assess your dog's health. It also gives your vet a baseline they can use to compare future tests.
The results from these tests can be helpful if your dog gets sick. Your vet can use them as a reference to see what normal looks like for your furry friend. Your vet may also recommend parasite control or vaccine boosters for your dog, depending on their disease risk and overall health. As your dog ages, these visits to the vet may increase depending on the condition of their health.
When Should Your Puppy Be Neutered or Spayed
After your puppy’s vaccination schedule is over, which is around 16 weeks, your next vet appointment for your puppy should be at six months. Depending on your vet’s recommendation, your puppy may be spayed or neutered at this time. This will depend on your puppy's size, breed, and sex, and if your vet recommends that it's the best time to perform the procedure.
When Should Your Dog Visit the Vet for Emergencies?
Hopefully, you never have to visit the vet for an emergency. But, sometimes, whether we like it or not, emergencies do happen. Knowing the signs to look out for can help you act quickly in such situations. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, examples of dog health emergencies that require immediate care, include:
If your dog is in severe pain
If your dog is unconscious and isn't waking up
When your dog ingests something poisonous
Overall, if your dog's health is worrying you, never hesitate to give your vet a call. As a pet parent, you know your dog best and if their behavior is out of character, your vet will be able to rule out any complications.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens during an In-Home Dog Wellness Exam?
Our in-home Wellness Exams for dogs provide essential, preventative care for your pet’s long-term health and well-being. We offer all common ‘core’ vaccines and lifestyle vaccines for your pet. We also recommend annual wellness checkups, in which our veterinarian can also provide booster vaccines as needed. Once you schedule your in-home visit, our mobile veterinarian and nurse will come to your home to examine your pet. Our doctor will discuss your pet’s history and determine the best vaccine protocol for your pet before administering any vaccine.
What are the benefits of in-home veterinary care?
Our mobile veterinarians can examine and better evaluate your pet in their natural environment, which keeps your pet feeling safe and happy. Our Veterinarians and Veterinary Nurses will provide all of the services you are accustomed to receiving from any other veterinarian; we just bring them to you! To see if BetterVet services your area, please visit our Locations Page to view them.
When should I use a telehealth option for my pet?
Video consultations are an excellent option when you want to check in with your vet about your pet’s health and well-being and are unsure whether you should schedule a veterinary visit. Vet video consultations are stress-free for you and your pet - you can connect virtually with one of our doctors, who will view your pet through the camera, and together, you’ll create a plan for their care.
Your furry friend's continuum of care should start when they are puppies. And by visiting the vet regularly, you give your dog the best chance for a happy and healthy life. Our goal at BetterVet is to be part of your dog’s wellness journey. As a full-service mobile veterinary practice, we want to bring our mobile vet services to your doorstep. Examining and evaluating your dog in their natural environment keeps them feeling relaxed and safe. You also never have to worry about missed appointments, as our vets will come to you. We also offer video consultation services whenever you have a question about your dog’s health and well-being.