Dogs are the most popular pets in the world. They offer unconditional love, emotional support, and constant cuddles that help prevent social isolation. As a pet owner, you need to make sure your furry best friend is healthy by taking them to the vet clinic for emergency health care and regular check-ups. "But how often should I take my dog to the vet?" you may ask. This article will discuss when dogs of different ages need to visit a veterinarian.
The important part of being a pet owner is ensuring they are in the best health they can be. How often you take your dog to the vet depends on its age, breed, lifestyle, and overall health.
How often should I take my dog to the vet for check-ups?
When you have a pet, it is your responsibility to care for the animal throughout its entire life. How often you take your dog to the vet for routine care and health check-ups will depend on their age, health and lifestyle. These wellness check-ups help your pet stay healthy.
For instance, puppies and senior dogs need more frequent visits, while healthy adult dogs only need to see the vet once or twice a year for routine care, check-ups, vaccinations and other preventative care. Here is a closer look at when you should take your dog to the vet for routine care.
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When to take a puppy to the vet
If your puppy is under four months, you would be required to take it to the vet for necessary vaccinations and a general check-up until they are sixteen weeks old. Regular wellness check-ups can help prevent illnesses, as well as identify and treat problems before they become severe. Below are the reasons and when you should take your puppy to the vet:
1. Healthy puppies should visit the vet every 3 to 4 weeks from the age of 6 weeks old to 16 weeks old for vaccinations. During the visits, the vet will also examine the puppy’s overall health and wellness checks which include:
- Performing a faecal test to check for the presence of parasites;
- Getting your pet's weight;
- Using a stethoscope to check the heart and lungs;
- Checking for abnormalities of the skin or fur;
- Inquiring about your pup's medical history, diet, medications, and prior vaccinations;
- Inspecting the ears, eyes, and nose;
- Administering vaccinations and dewormer as necessary;
- Inspecting and palpating the body to check for pain or swollen lymph nodes.
2. Puppies should also visit the vet as needed for arising healthcare concerns or emergencies. Some signs and symptoms that may call for an immediate visit to the vet include pale gums, uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhoea, injuries or physical trauma and ingestion of foreign objects.
3. Take your puppy back to the vet when it's six to eight weeks old to receive the first DHLPPC shot, which prevents distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus and kennel cough. The puppies will also receive heartworm treatments, flea and tick preventative treatments and microchips.
4. Puppy owners should take them to the vet to receive the second short of DHLPPC when they are 10 to 12 weeks old and the third when they are 14 to 16 weeks.
5. Your puppy must receive a rabies vaccination at around 12 to 24 weeks. The exact timing of this shot varies depending on where you live, but it is naturally done when they are around four months old.
6. Puppies should see the vet regularly since they are prone to having health problems, especially before they are fit for their vaccinations. Therefore, vaccinations and tests for common diseases are essential for all baby animals.
7. Depending on your location and lifestyle, your vet may also recommend administering other non-core vaccines during this time. These might include shots for leptospirosis and Lyme disease.
8. Once the vaccine schedule is done, you can schedule your next appointment at around six months to get your pet spayed/neutered.
How often should I take my dog to the vet?
There is no specific dog-scheduled visit for vets that all dog owners must follow. However, most vets will recommend visiting them at least once a year for a routine check-up and more often if your dog has any health concerns.
- After a dog has reached one year, it is considered an adult dog and has to visit the vet once a year for routine health check-ups.
- Dogs with health issues may need to be monitored closely by a veterinarian, requiring more frequent appointments. Ensure to seek the vet's recommendation on how often to visit the clinic.
- Your dog may need additional vet visits based on the location's risks. For example, your dog may need more frequent visits for Lyme disease tests if you live where ticks are common.
- Your dog will still need booster shots for rabies and DHPP vaccines, which are given in every one to three years. Regular vaccines can protect your dog from getting serious diseases, some of which can be deadly.
- During these annual visits, your veterinarian will also monitor weight changes, check your dog’s teeth, gums, eyes, and ears, look out for unusual growths, and listen to the heart and lungs. They might also run some blood work and request a stool sample ahead of time to check for parasites and heartworms.
- It is important to note that animals can visit a local veterinarian more than once a year if something is wrong. For example, your dog's breed or underlying health issues may necessitate more visits.
- For adult dogs, the following vaccines are seen as fundamental for most dogs:
- Canine hepatitis
- Canine parvovirus.
How often should I take my senior dog to the vet?
Dogs tend to need more health care as they get older. This is why veterinarians suggest that senior healthy dogs should have check-ups every 6 months for routine check-ups and geriatric screenings rather than just annually. A dog who is between 7-10 years or older is considered a senior dog.
- Senior dogs are easily prone to health conditions since they are ageing. For this reason, your dog may need to see the vet twice a year for overall health check-ups.
- Senior dogs may need more health tests during their bi-annual and annual visit. These tests may include tests to check on previous problems or blood and urine tests to ensure their internal organs are health.
- During the semi-annual visit, the vet should also perform a geriatric screening to help identify progressive diseases in the early stages. Early detection help to manage the symptoms and prolong life expectancy in elderly dogs.
- The vet may also recommend frequent vet visits for larger breeds since they tend to have shorter lifespans and reach their milestones earlier.
- During senior pet visits, the pet owners get an opportunity to mention any changes in their pets, including health and general behaviour, so they can be given the best care possible.
- Senior dogs frequently need to visit the vet more than every six months since they are nearing to the end of life. During this time, the vet might give pain meds to help maintain quality rather than quantity of life.
When should I take my dog to the vet immediately?
Your dog needs annual and semi-annual vet visits. However, emergencies do come up, and knowing the signs can help you make a quick decision during those important first moments.
If your dog shows any of these signs and symptoms, it is important to take them to the vet or nearest animal hospital. This will allow the vet to address the concern immediately rather than wait until their annual visit.
- Loss of consciousness;
- Vomiting or diarrhoea for 6 to 12 hours or more;
- Breathing difficulties;
- Runny nose;
- Eye discharge;
- Weak or fast pulse;
- Pale gums;
- Weight loss;
- Ingesting something toxic like antifreeze, rat poison, or household cleaners;
- Showing signs of extreme pain;
- Collapsing or can’t stand up;
- Drop or rise in body temperature;
- Swollen, hard abdomen.
How often should I take my dog to the vet? Taking your dog for a check-up is important preventive care that should be done regularly. These wellness check-ups help your pet achieve and maintain its ideal health.
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