“A dog is a man’s (or woman’s) best friend,” as the old saying goes. It stands to reason that you’d want to make sure your perfect pal is always in great shape. That means regular trips to the vet.
But how often is too often and how few visits are too few? Read on to find out when it’s best to take a dog to the veterinarian.
Some Points to Consider Before You Get a Dog
Think of regular visits to the vet as a little like a car service. Your vet will give your dog an all round check-up. This is a preventative measure that can keep your pet healthier for longer and could save you money over time.
The regularity of your visits to the vet could depend on the breed of your dog. Some varieties are more susceptible to certain types of health issues. Here are some examples:
- Dachshunds can typically develop back problems
- Labradors often have hip problems
- French bulldogs are prone to breathing difficulties
As a general rule, when your dog is a puppy or over 8 years old, they’ll need more frequent visits to the vet than during most of their adulthood.
How Often Do You Take a Puppy to the Vet?
Some experts suggest monthly health care examinations for puppies until they’re around 4 months old. During these visits, your vet will examine your pet to make sure they’re developing properly.
This is the time when the vaccination process for your pet begins. These are some of the diseases for which vaccines are available:
- Canine Distemper Virus or CDV
- Canine Adenovirus (CAV)
- Canine Parvovirus (CPV)
- Canine Leptospira
- Canine Parainfluenza Virus (CPi)
- Kennel Cough
Vets tend to deliver the most common vaccines in 2 shots, once when the puppy is around 9 weeks old and the second around 4 weeks later. You should discuss the rabies vaccine with your vet, especially if you are planning to travel.
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To Neuter or Not to Neuter
After your puppy has received their vaccines, the next trip to the vet will likely be for their neutering. While the ideal neutering age can vary among different breeds and sexes, 6-9 months is very common.
Neutering can reduce the likelihood of certain types of aggression, while also reducing roaming (mate-seeking and territory guarding) behavior. In addition, neutering reduces (or removes) the risk of certain cancers and specifically womb infections in female dogs.
Having your dog neutered can prevent certain additional costs relating to unplanned pregnancies and raising more puppies.
Female dogs generally come into season twice a year for around 3 weeks. This is when they can get pregnant. They may act differently at these times and might try running away to find a dog to mate with.
Unneutered female dogs may:
- Suffer from phantom pregnancies that cause health problems
- Experience womb infections that are life-threatening and expensive to treat
- Have a higher risk of developing mammary tumors
Unneutered male dogs may:
- Have behavioral issues like scent marking and roaming
- Show more aggression or be the target of aggression from other dogs
- May act impulsively if they smell a local female dog in season
Given regular check-ups, vaccinations, and potential neutering, you should expect to take your puppy to the vet around 4-5 times within their first year. Your vet will also be able to advise you about essential flea, worming, and tick treatments.
How Often Do You Take an Adult Dog to the Vet?
There is no one-size-fits-all date when your puppy will become a dog. Dogs mature at different rates and this can happen any time between around 1 to 2 years old.
However, once your dog is a year old, trips to the vet may become less frequent unless of course they become ill or suffer an injury. You should expect to take your dog to the vet once a year for an annual check-up.
Your vet will listen to their heart and lungs. They’ll check your dog’s weight and also examine their eyes and ears. They’ll discuss any appropriate changes to flea treatment and may make suggestions about nutrition and dental care.
Your dog will also typically receive a booster jab from your vet so that their vaccinations carry on protecting them. It’s often at this point that your dog might get a kennel cough vaccine, particularly if they mix with other dogs.
How Often Do You Take a Senior Dog to the Vet?
Most senior dogs over the age of 8 are likely to need more frequent trips to the vet. Like some older humans, they tend to be more prone to certain illnesses or age-related injuries.
Senior dogs should see the vet about once every 6 months, You should consider including a range of examinations during your visits. These could include annual blood pressure and fecal tests as well as ultrasounds and chest X-rays.
All these will help your vet to make an assessment of your dog’s overall health and wellbeing. More regular visits to the vet can help to catch unwelcome changes more quickly and give your vet more time to treat issues as they crop up.
Taking Your Dog to the Vet Because of an Emergency
Sometimes you may need to take your dog to the vet for urgent treatment. Apart from accidental injuries, here are some common reasons for an emergency:
- Your dog has been vomiting or suffering from diarrhea for more than 24 hours
- Your dog is vomiting blood
- You suspect your dog may have a broken nose
- Your dog has very pale gums
- You think your dog has ingested a toxic substance
- Your dog becomes disoriented or has a swollen abdomen or collapses
Visits to the Vet Could Save You Money in the Long Run
If a vet checks over your dog regularly, they may pick up signs of an infection before it takes hold. You should bear this in mind when considering how often to take your pet to see the vet.
We know that puppies and dogs are likely to be close family members. You might at times need extra support to look after them.
Get in touch with us now for instant online access to a fully qualified vet. We are also delighted to be able to offer hassle-free, pet insurance for your dog at the click of a mouse.