It can be tough to figure out how often to take your dog to the veterinarian. Since they can’t communicate with us directly, often it isn’t until something is very wrong that we decide a visit to a professional is required. Just like booking an appointment with your own doctor, a little bit of preventative care goes a long way to improving your dog’s overall health. Here are some basic guidelines for how often your dog should be headed to the vet.
Puppies (Under one year old)
Puppies have a pretty rigid vet schedule in place in order to get all their vaccinations taken care of. They will need to go to the vet clinic every three or four weeks in order to get their next shot and to have the vet make sure they are developing correctly. At around six months, you should get your dog spayed or neutered, and that’s when the visits can start to ease back a bit. If your dog has no developmental issues and is caught up on all their shots, they won’t need to come in as often. This will be a case-by-case basis you should discuss with your vet, depending on your dog’s history, breed, and how quickly they are developing.
Adult (Age one through seven)
In your dog’s primary years, an annual wellness exam is generally all they need. The vet will check their blood, examine a stool sample, and give booster shots. They will also question you about things you’ve noticed: changes in behavior, appetite, etc. Based on your answers, they may recommend a few other tests. In general, barring any accidents, an annual vet visit will be sufficient for keeping your dog looked after.
Senior (Older than seven)
When your dog starts to hit their silver years, visits to the vet should start to occur a little more frequently - every six months or so. This is when your observations will become extremely important: the easiest way to catch a problem early is because you noticed a subtle shift in your dog’s behavior.
Obviously, these are general guidelines for keeping your dog healthy. There are a few times you should always visit the vet:
If they suffer a serious illness or injury
If you move, especially to a dramatically different climate or environment
If you notice a dramatic shift in behavior or attitude
If they ingest something potentially toxic
Just like you would with a child (or yourself), trust your instincts. You spend a lot of time with your dog and take note of all those peculiarities - if they change and you are worried about it, at least call your vet and see if it’s something they can check out. Your vet will often talk you through the basics and tell you things to watch out for if it is not a dire emergency.
A little preventative care goes a long way - that’s why it pays to keep a supply of Bio-nihilator around the house. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but you will be glad you have it to take care of stains and smells when you need to.