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How Often Should I Take My Dog To The Vet?

How Often Should I Take My Dog To The Vet?

All pet owners want their dogs to live a long and healthy life. Regular visits to a vet will help you maintain the good health of your dog. Some serious health issues can be discovered during routine wellness exams especially in older dogs during their senior years. But, how often should I take my dog to the vet? 

Well, it all depends on the type of pet or more specifically your dog’s breed, the age of your dog, the stage of its development, and the general health of the dog. Generally, puppies should visit the vet every 3-4 weeks until they reach 16 weeks of age. Dogs in their adult years should visit the vet once every year for an annual vet exam. While senior dogs should have more frequent visits, or at least two preventive care checks a year.

However, this is the most basic answer, and to truly understand the importance of regular health check-ups, we need to go a bit deeper into the subject. Regular vet care and a proactive approach is incredibly important for the early detection of diseases such as heart problems, Lyme disease, hip dysplasia or even kidney disease. 

How Often Should I Take My Puppy To The Vet?

The first year of life is crucial for the physical and mental development and the health of a newborn puppy. The importance of the first 12 months of a puppy’s life can’t be overstated. However, this is also the most dangerous period in the life of a dog. With the immune system still in development, puppies are extremely susceptible to a wide range of dangerous diseases.

Therefore, it is important to regularly visit the vet during this period. You should visit the vet every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old. Also, the puppy needs to be vaccinated to prevent dangerous and potentially fatal health issues. You also need to think about their dental care and the health of their eyes, as the eyes and teeth are still developing at this age and preventive care will make sure your dog will enjoy a healthy smile and a great vision for a long time.

Puppy Vaccination Schedule

When getting a puppy you can’t forget about their required vaccines. The puppy vaccination schedule and recommended shots may differ from state to state. In some regions, your puppy won’t need vaccination for certain diseases or parasites, simply because they are not present in that area. But some vaccines will be mandatory in all states, for example, the Kennel Cough vaccine. Most puppy daycare centers even won’t let your puppy into the program if you don’t have proof that he had his vaccine.

The basic vaccine schedule could seem a bit complicated and overwhelming to some pet owners. But it isn’t nearly as complicated as it may seem at first. These are the general guidelines and schedules for puppy vaccination.

AgeVaccine
6–8 weeksFirst DHLPPC shot (combined vaccine for distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvo, and corona).
10–12 weeksSecond DHLPPC shot
12–24 weeksRabies
14–16 weeksThird DHLPPC shot

You can also ask your vet about home vaccinations. They are pretty convenient if you don’t have time to drive to your vet’s office every couple of weeks. Young puppies could be a bit fussy about driving and having someone come to your home and give your pup his needed shots could make your life so much easier.

Once your puppy has been vaccinated, you won’t need to visit the vet until about six months of age when your furry friend will be spayed or neutered, which is usually at 12 months old. Don’t underestimate the importance of vaccines. Being on top of your puppy’s vaccine schedule will make sure that they grow into healthy adults. 

How Often Should I Take My Adult Dog To The Vet?

We have already mentioned that adult dogs (1-7 years of age) will need annual health checkups. During these annual visits, the vet will give your dog a full, head-to-tail physical. The vet will take samples of blood and urine, perform a dental exam, heartworm test, etc. As excessive as that may seem to you, know that it could be crucial to make sure that you are on top of your dog’s health. Sure, some unpredicted situations could come up, but early detection of diseases will always increase the chances of your dog’s recovery. 

During the first annual checkup, when the dog is a year old, he will get rabies and distemper-parvo booster shots. There is an ongoing debate among veterinarians regarding the annual vaccination boosters and whether the dogs really need them.  However, it is best for you to talk to your vet, find out his opinion on vaccination boosters and ask for advice. Don’t listen to outside opinions or to conspiracy theories on the internet. When it comes to your dog’s health, always listen to the opinion of medical professionals. 

Besides an annual physical exam, the vet will also look at the behavior of your dog and ask about its training and overall health of the dog. It is advisable that you report any strange occurrences and behavior, so that the vet may perform additional tests if needed. 

How Often Should I Take My Senior Dog To The Vet?

Similar to the puppies, the senior dogs are much more vulnerable than the adult dogs. As the dog gets older his immunity weakens and the ability to recover diminishes, thus leaving the seniors prone to health issues and injuries. Therefore, older dogs should visit the vet at least twice a year. Based on the state of your dog, his overall health, and behavior, the vet may advise further testing to diagnose potential health problems. These tests may include, taking blood and urine samples, ultrasounds, chest radiographs, etc.

If your dog is sick, you can ask your vet if he does home visits. Particular health needs of older dogs could require more intensive care of your dog, and you will need the help of medical professionals. The cost of vet visits to your home may be higher, but if your dog is unwell, it will be so much more comfortable for him. When your dog ages, he will be much more prone to joint pain and moving could become painful. Older pets will need more than just one annual wellness exam, and the vet bills could easily build up. So make sure you think everything through before ever getting a puppy. This little puppy will become a senior dog one day, and he will need your help then more than ever. 

When To Visit A Vet Immediately?

Up until now, we have talked about regular annual physical exams and checkups. But, what to do in case of an emergency? Which signs and symptoms demand an immediate visit to the vet?

If your dog experiences some of the following symptoms, take it to the vet immediately.

  • Swollen, hard abdomen
  • Collapse
  • Seizure
  • Signs of an extreme pain
  • Continual vomiting or diarrhea
  • Heavy breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Pale gums
  • Your dog has ingested toxic and dangerous substances
  • Sudden disorientation
  • Your dog was hit by a car or fallen from more than a few feet