How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?

Most people usually take their dog to a vet once a year for an annual checkup. But the question is, is that enough?

How often you really need to take your dog to a vet depends on your dog’s general health and life stage. For example, senior dogs and puppies generally need more frequent visits, while healthier adults would be fine with annual check-ups. In case you are worried about the cost of vet visits, do keep in mind that regulative health care can keep your dog healthier for longer periods, and can even save you money in the longer run.

Birth to one year: vaccinations and more

You get well acquainted with the vet, once you get a puppy. Experts recommend that you should get monthly wellness exams during early puppyhood. That’s once every 3–4 weeks until they’re 16 weeks old, following a basic vaccine schedule.

Here’s a basic vaccination schedule for young puppies.

  • 6–8 weeks: first DHLPPC shot (combined vaccine for distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvo, and corona). This one is given in a series over your puppy’s first year.
  • 10–12 weeks: second DHLPPC shot
  • 12–24 weeks: rabies
  • 14–16 weeks: third DHLPPC shot

It’s important to understand that your puppy’s vaccination schedule needs may vary depending on your puppy’s particular health profile and your location. You can work with your vet to make an appropriate course for your pup. The vet will examine your puppy to make sure they’re staying healthy and developing well, during your puppy wellness visits. It may seem like puppy vet schedules are a lot of investment of time and money. But vaccines are the thing that will protect your puppy from dangerous diseases. Not only this, but you’ll also help ensure a positive relationship with the vet for life by getting your puppy used to the vet early on.

Adulthood (1–7 years)

Adult dogs typically will need annual wellness exams, as mentioned earlier. When your dog is a year old, at the first yearly checkup, your dog will typically get a distemper-parvo and rabies booster shot. They’ll probably give your dog a kennel cough vaccine, as well, if your dog goes to doggy daycare. Your dog may also need rabies boosters on subsequent annual visits (the timings can vary from state to state).

As your dog continues to age, the annual exam will continue to include a head-to-tail checkup, dental exam, heartworm test, and often, vaccination updates. The vet will also ask about your dog’s behavior, training, and overall wellness at the annual exam.

Senior years (8+ years)

Older dogs are more prone to illness and age-related injury and have more particular health needs. And given the fact they need extra care, senior dogs should see the vet semi-annually, almost after every six months. Your vet may also recommend a variety of diagnostic tests for your senior dog, in addition to the regular wellness-check stuff. These can include fecal tests and annual blood tests, and perhaps ultrasounds, chest radiographs, and a blood pressure test.

Your vet may recommend more frequent visits depending on their health, as your dog gets older. Frequent vet visits catch changes more quickly and can give your vet more time to treat issues as they arise.

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