If you’re a pet owner, you might be wondering how often should you take your dog to the vet. Most pet parents will make yearly vet visits, but is that enough? The answer depends on a lot of different factors, such as your dog’s age and any medical conditions they may have.
There’s no single answer to the question of, “How often should your pet see a veterinarian?” But here’s some information that will give you a general idea of when you should get your pooch checked out.
What Is The Annual Vet Exam?
No matter what your dog’s age or health may be, they should always go for wellness exams at least once a year. This is your chance to get an overall picture of how your dog is doing. Just like humans should get an annual physical, dogs should have an annual “maintenance check,” so to speak. Yearly checkups can alert you to any minor health issues before they turn into major problems.1
Annual checkup visits to the vet may include various diagnostic tests to determine how well your dog is doing. The vet will check their ears, eyes, heart, and lungs, and they’ll also look for fleas. They’ll ask you about any issues or problems that need to be addressed, and they’ll also make sure your dog’s preventative care is up to date.2
How Often To Take Your Dog To The Vet, Depending On Their Age
Again, there’s no set-in-stone answer to the question of, “How often should you take your dog to the vet?” But there are some good rules of thumb to consider.
- Puppies – You will probably see the vet quite a few times before your pup turns 1 year old, especially during the first six months.
- Adults – A healthy adult dog will probably be fine with just one yearly visit (but check with your vet to be sure). Yearly checkups will also give your vet the chance to check your dog’s teeth. A dental exam can help your vet see if there are any signs of periodontal disease.
- Seniors – If your pooch is getting a little older, you’ll probably want to bring them to the vet at least a couple of times a year. Plan on doing this once your dog turns 8 years old. Your vet will not only check your dog’s teeth, but also perform blood tests to check for any signs of illness. They may also recommend changes to your dog’s diet so your pet doesn’t become overweight.3
When To Go To The Vet (Aside From Annual Exams)
There’s nothing scarier to a pet parent than to see something suddenly go wrong with their beloved companion. If this happens to your dog, fast action could make all the difference. Here are a few signs your pet may need medical care.
Their Eating Habits Suddenly Change
If your dog decides to forego the occasional meal, that shouldn’t be a concern. Your dog might be hot because they just played on a summer day, or they might be a little nervous because they’re in an unfamiliar environment, such as a hotel room. That’s fairly normal behavior.4
But if your dog doesn’t eat for two days in a row, it’s time for a vet visit. The opposite could be an issue as well. A sudden increase in appetite, or excessively begging for food, could be a sign of a health problem. While this might not require an emergency trip to the vet, you should at least set up an appointment so you can find out what’s going on.5
They Seem Much Thirstier Than Normal
When a dog laps up more water than they normally do, it could be just because they exercised a little harder than usual, or the weather is hot. If this issue goes on for more than a day, then you should probably schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so they can check for a potential issue.6
They’re Having Trouble Breathing
This is a sure sign that it is time to get prompt veterinary attention. Weak breathing, wheezing, or choking could be due to one of a number of potential problems, including allergic reactions or having a foreign object in their throat.7
Note: Never try to remove a foreign body from your dog’s airway yourself. That could cause the object to go even deeper, cutting off the airway completely. Just focus on getting your pup to your veterinarian or an emergency vet and let them remove any obstruction.8
Your Dog Is Bleeding Significantly
Take your dog to the vet immediately if you notice significant bleeding. A bite or any other kind of wound could lead to an infection if not addressed as soon as possible.9
You Suspect Your Dog Might Have Ingested Poison
Despite your best efforts, it’s possible that your curious pup night ingest something they shouldn’t. If you see this happen, call the emergency vet or your vet and ask what to do. Never try to induce vomiting in your dog unless directed to do so by a professional.
Even if your dog seems fine, get them to the vet anyway. It can take days for some toxins to take effect, and by the time they start to show symptoms, it might be too late.10
Keep Your Dog’s Health At The Top Of Your Mind
You want your beloved dog to have a long, healthy, happy life. Regular vet visits can help make that happen. So, how often should your pet see a veterinarian? As you’ve learned, there are a lot of different answers to that question. Your vet will let you know exactly how often you should come in for a basic exam.
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