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How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?

How Often Should You Take Your Dog to the Vet?

Photo by CC BY

They aren’t called “man’s best friend” for nothing. The minute you get your new puppy to the time both you and your dog are old, you want to do your best to care for them and keep them healthy. Nonetheless, between the shots, appointments and products bought for your new friend, becoming a pet parent can seem overwhelming.

If you’re a new pet owner, you might be asking, “Now that I have my new pup, how often do I take them to the vet?” ­­or “Do I even need to take them to the vet?” ­­­We’ll cover the answers to these questions as you keep reading.

1. First Puppy Visit

Even if you get your puppy already vaccinated or spayed/neutered, it is still a good idea to take them to the vet within the first week. Why? Several reasons:

  • First Examination. At your first visit to the vet, they will be able to share any concerns with you that they see either through the physical exam or blood/fecal testing. This will help you know how to plot steps for the future with your pet.
  • Schedule Vaccinations. The sooner you get the vaccinations over with, the less you have to worry about them. Visiting the vet early once you get your pup will allow you to set up a vaccination schedule. This will help you get each shot out of the way quickly.
  • Begin Record of Care. Not only is it good to get the vet-puppy relations started early, but going to the vet first thing will start your pet’s medical record. This is good because it means any time after that they can pull up your pet’s record, which will save you time on the paperwork.

2. General Puppy Visits

After you’ve scheduled all of the vaccinations for your puppy, you will need to go to the veterinarian for every booster shot. If, in the short time that you’ve had your pet, questions or concerns have risen, feel free to ask the vet for answers or advice. Around 6 months, you may want to have your pet spayed or neutered. Keep in mind that this procedure is a surgery and may involve an overnight visit or follow-up appointment.

3. Annual Visits

As your dog grows into adulthood, it is good to take them to the vet at least once a year. Twice a year is recommended, considering the fact that a vet may recognize a health issue that you may not be aware of. A senior or geriatric pet may need to visit the vet every six months to stay on top of health problems as well.

4. At the Vet

Besides the question of visiting the vet frequently, another common question from new pet owners is, “What should I expect at the vet?” Annual check-ups most often include:

  • Physical Examination. An annual physical exam includes a lot of steps – the majority of which make sure your dog is healthy and normal. The doctor may ask you questions concerning your pet’s diet, thirst, exercise, breathing, habits and lifestyle. Your vet will inspect your dog’s:
      • Taking Your Dog to the Vet

        Photo by UGA College of AG & Environmental Sciences-OCCA / CC BY-NC

        Temperature – The average temperature in canines is 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

      • Posture
      • Weight – Looking for signs of obesity or malnutrition.
      • Fur/Coat and Skin – Looking for dandruff, oiliness, excessive shedding or unusual bumps.
      • Eyes – Looking for any redness, swelling, tearing, discharge or lumps on the eyelids.
      • Ears – Looking for discharges, hair loss or other abnormalities.
      • Nose/Face – Checking breathing patterns and looking for abnormalities.
      • Mouth/Teeth – Looking for tartar build-up, gum disease, broken teeth, staining, ulcers or excessive salivation.
      • Heart – Listening for unusual heart rate or rhythm or murmurs.
      • Lungs – Listening for increased or decreased breath sounds.
      • Pulse
      • Lymph Nodes – Looking for swelling or pain.
      • Legs – Looking for muscle or nerve issues, lameness or problems involving the paw and toenails.
      • Abdomen – Looking and checking the bladder, kidneys, liver, spleen, stomach and other intestines for abnormalities or discomfort.
  • Other Tests. Because your dog may not easily indicate discomfort or sickness, your vet may also recommend tests such as:
      • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
      • Biochemistry Profile
      • Urinalysis
      • Thyroid Hormone Testing

To keep your dog healthy and active, it’s a great habit to regularly take them to the vet. Your vet may be able to identify a serious condition that needs to be treated right away. It is good to keep in mind the hours of operation of the vet office you choose; if you are concerned about emergency care, make sure they offer 24/7 services.

When was the last time you took your dog to the vet?

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