You might be wondering whether you should only bring your dog to the vet once a year for an annual checkup, or more often than that—or whether you don’t need to do it at all, unless your dog is feeling sick.
The frequency of vet visits depends on your dog’s age and breed, as well as any major health conditions. But no matter what kind of dog you have, it’s important to make sure that your dog stays up to date on all exams, vaccinations, and essential medications. The fact is, keeping up with preventative care can save you lots of money in the long-term by catching (and treating) health issues early on. Plus, keeping up a consistent vet schedule will help give you peace of mind and maintain strong communication with your vet-care team.
How often does my puppy need to go to the vet?
Until puppies are about four months old, plan on bringing them in for vaccines (such as rabies and kennel cough) and wellness checks about every three to four weeks. It’s important to see the vet fairly often while your dog is a puppy, partly because you’re building a relationship with your veterinary care team, and getting your puppy used to going to the vet. This is also a great opportunity to ask questions and address concerns about any potential emerging health conditions. Puppies are actually susceptible to a number of health conditions, including parvo, kennel cough, and intestinal parasites (such as giardia). Once your pup reaches six months, it might be time to consider spaying or neutering (if they haven’t been already), but this is a personal decision and should be a conversation you have with your vet.
How often does my adult dog need to go to the vet?
Typically, a healthy adult dog should go to the vet once a year for vaccinations, checkups, dental care, and any other preventative care. If your dog has any chronic health conditions, you might need to go more often. And if you live in an area with certain health risks—such as a rural area with a high tick population—your dog might require more frequent vet visits to test regularly for Lyme disease, for instance.
Don’t only take your dog to the vet when something seems wrong. Among other things, keeping up annual vet visits (such as wellness exams) will enable you to make sure your dog’s dental care is kept up with regular cleanings, and that they’re at a healthy weight.
More than half of all dogs in the US are overweight or obese, which can lead to more health issues (and potentially more expensive ones!) for your dog down the line. Also, carrying around extra weight causes more stress on their joints, which affects mobility. Be sure to chat with your vet about how to assess your dog’s weight and body condition and help them maintain a healthy weight—and that might mean adjusting your dog’s diet, including treats.
Above all, keeping up regular vet visits will help the vet get to know your dog better, and to be more attuned to changes in behavior or body condition. And your dog can get to feel more comfortable with the vet-care team over time.
By building a strong relationship with a veterinary care team, they can meet your dog’s unique needs and give you support and guidance when you need it most.
How often does my senior dog need to go to the vet?
What is considered “the senior years” depends on your dog’s size and breed. For instance, small breeds are typically considered seniors when they are 10 to 12 years old, while large breed dogs are regarded as seniors by the time they are six or seven, and medium-size breeds are seniors at eight or nine years old. Plan on taking your senior dog to the vet every six months. Older dogs need (and deserve) special attention. And if you start to see changes such as lameness, increased thirst or water consumption, lethargy, excessive panting, or a change in appetite, you might need to take your dog to the vet more often for closer monitoring.
As your dog ages, it’s normal for them to experience changes such as gum disease and tooth decay, gastrointestinal issues, arthritis and mobility issues, vision or hearing loss, and even neurological changes. Older dogs may also be more susceptible to certain diseases, such as cancer. But even if your senior dog is perfectly healthy and active, prioritize regular and consistent vet visits, twice a year. Make sure your dog has routine wellness exams and blood work, and ask your vet to assess nutritional levels. And dietary changes might be needed, especially if your dog has gained weight.
If you’re a veterinary professional, learn more about The Farmers Dog in our vet pro portal.