How often should I take my dog to the vet? Should old dogs go to the vet more often? Why are checkups important for my dog's health? Today, our Augusta veterinary team answers these questions and more.
Benefits of Wellness Exams for Dogs
Preventing serious diseases, or detecting them in the very earliest stages can help your animal companion to stay healthier longer.
Taking your dog to the vet regularly provides your vet with the opportunity to monitor your dog's overall health, look for the earliest signs of disease (when conditions are most easily treated), and provide preventive care such as vaccines and parasite prevention medications.
At Highland Animal Hospital, our vets understand that you are concerned about the cost of bringing your dog in for a checkup when they seem healthy. But taking a proactive, preventive approach to your dog's health care could save you the cost of expensive treatments down the road and lead to better long-term heath for your dog.
These appointments also provide you with regular opportunities to speak to your vet about anything related to your dog that may be concerning you. From your dog's diet to troubling behaviors, routine exams are the ideal time to get answers to your questions.
How Often Your Dog Should See the Vet
Taking your dog to the vet for a routine exam is like taking your pup in for a physical. As with people, how often your pet needs a checkup depends upon your dog's lifestyle, overall health, breed and age.
Annual wellness exams are typically recommended for healthy adult dogs, but puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with underlying health conditions benefit from more frequent examinations.
Puppies Under 12 Months Old
If your pup is less than a year old then monthly visits to your vet are recommended.
During your pup's first year, they are going to need several rounds of vaccinations to help keep them protected against common infectious diseases such as distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvo, corona, rabies, and leptospirosis. These vaccines will be given to your puppy over the course of 16 weeks and will go a long way toward keeping your puppy healthy.
The exact timing of your young dog's vaccinations will vary depending on your location and your furry friend's overall health.
Between 6 - 12 months our vets recommend having your pooch spayed or neutered in order to prevent a host of diseases and undesirable behaviors as well as unwanted puppies.
Adult Dogs Between 1 - 7 Years of Age
If you have a healthy, active adult dog between the ages of 1 - 7 years, yearly vet checkups are recommended.
During your adult dog's checkup, your vet will perform a head-to-tail examination of your pet to look for early signs of illness or other issues, such as tooth decay, joint pain, or parasites.
Your vet will also administer any required vaccines, speak to you about your dog's diet and nutritional requirements, recommend appropriate parasite protection, and discuss any training or behavioral issues you may be noticing.
If your vet detects any signs of developing health issues they will discuss their findings with you and recommend next steps.
Senior Dogs Over 7 Years of Age (Or Large Breeds Over 5)
Dogs are typically considered senior or geriatric when they are about 8 years old, except in the case of giant breeds. Dogs such as Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Mastiffs, and Saint Bernards age more quickly than other breeds and will require more frequent preventive care earlier, typically around 5 years of age.
Since many diseases seen in dogs and injuries tend to be more common in older pets we recommend taking your senior dog to the vet every 6 months. Twice-yearly wellness checkups for your senior dog will include all of the checks and advice mentioned above, but with a few added diagnostic tests to provide extra insight into your pet's overall health.
Some diagnostic tests we recommend for our senior patients include blood tests and urinalysis to check for early signs of problems such as kidney disease or diabetes.
Senior care for pets also includes a more proactive approach to keeping your pet comfortable as age-related issues such as joint pain become more common. If your dog is older, ask your vet how often you should bring your pup in for an examination.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.