The frequency of your dog’s vet visits depends on their age and health. Puppies need to go to the vet more often, possibly monthly for the first year of their lives.
Follow each visit with a fun outing like a hike, swim or trip to the park. This will help your dog learn that going to the vet doesn’t have to be scary.
Puppies need to pop into the vet every 3-4 weeks until they’re 16 weeks old for routine vaccinations. In addition, they should get a heartworm test and start their flea and tick preventatives during this time.
As dogs grow into adults, they’ll likely need yearly wellness visits. On their first yearly checkup, they’ll receive distemper-parvo and rabies boosters (which vary by state).
During these visits, the vet will give your dog a general exam and run blood work. Some pet owners choose to have their vet run a feces sample each year as well, which can help to detect intestinal parasites.
As your dog grows into adulthood, wellness appointments every year will keep their health in tip-top shape. These visits include a full head-to-tail physical, stool samples and parasite testing, blood work, and hearing and vision screening.
If you have a fearful or reactive dog, these wellness appointments are also great to get them used to being at the vet’s office and to build that trust with the veterinary team. Your vet will be able to recommend and administer any anti-anxiety medication that may be needed.
Older dogs have more specific health needs and are more prone to illness or age-related injury. They may need to return for biannual wellness checks.
These annual tail-to-nose exams allow your vet to monitor any health changes and address your questions or concerns. He or she will check your dog’s weight, eyes and ears, look for any lumps and bumps, listen to the heart and lungs, and assess joint and bone health.
Your pet will get to know your veterinarian pretty well during these appointments! Besides a physical examination, your vet will ask you about your pup’s training and behavior and how they’re eating and sleeping. This information allows them to spot changes and take precautions before problems arise. Giant breeds, such as Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds, should visit the vet biannually starting around 8 years old.
A pet owner’s primary responsibility is to keep their animal healthy, so they need regular visits to the vet. However, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question; each pet’s life stage and general health will dictate their visit schedule.
Puppies and kittens should visit their vet regularly for the first year of their lives, potentially monthly or twice a month. This is to get them accustomed to going to the clinic, letting them interact with the staff and learn that it is not a scary place.
Annual wellness exams should occur annually, giving the veterinarian a chance to track your dog’s growth and development. This is also an opportunity to give your dog updated booster shots.
Routine Blood Tests
When your pet is exhibiting any unusual symptoms, like lethargy or not eating, blood tests can help the vet determine what might be going on. In addition, if your dog gets into something toxic like antifreeze or rat poison, a quick blood test can tell if they have been exposed.
Blood chemistry panels can indicate things like lipid levels, which can increase after eating and may signal pancreatitis. They can also show other factors such as organ function, electrolyte balance, and hormone levels. These tests are important especially for older pets, those with long-term medications, and those undergoing anesthesia. These blood tests can detect underlying conditions or illnesses that your pet might be suffering from but won’t show on an exam.
Puppies and kittens need to visit the vet every three to four weeks until they’re 16 weeks old to get their necessary vaccines. Veterinarians also check on their housebreaking and training progress during this time.
For adult dogs, annual exams are recommended. These head-to-tail physicals allow veterinarians to monitor weight changes, examine your dog’s teeth, skin, eyes and ears, and hear their heart and lungs.
If your dog is anxious or fearful of visiting the vet, ask your vet about calming medications and desensitizing your pet. With a little time, many dogs learn to enjoy visits to the vet. Some even become comfortable enough to travel to the clinic in their carrier by themselves!