As a dog owner, you have an obligation to ensure their health and safety. You are the voice of your pet and you need to advocate for your his or her well-being at all times. That's why it's so important to know how often you should be making veterinarian appointments for your furry friend.
Preventative care is the best possible option to ward off any illness or injury before it results in discomfort for your pooch and higher vet bills for you.
Take a look at our handy guide for visiting the veterinarian's office to help your pup live a long and happy life.
Related: How Often Should You Walk Your Dog?
Annual CheckupsDogs are just like us when it comes to staying healthy. They need good nutrition and routine medical examinations. You go in for a physical once a year, you should be taking your dog to the vet to get annual checkups as well. A visit to the vet can be a lifesaving opportunity for a dog who may be developing a serious condition that would likely go unnoticed without a routine exam. Yearly wellness visits for your dog can help your vet identify any small issues before they turn into much more serious health matters. Early detection is always the best deterrent against a wide range of common and not so common diseases and conditions that can affect canines.
Depending on the results of the examination, your veterinarian may recommend any dietary changes or treatment options based upon the diagnoses that are made. If your dog has a clean bill of health, then your vet will likely suggest that your dog come in for annual checkup around the same time next year.
Birth to one yearPuppies are a different story. You should be taking your pup to the veterinarian every month for routine wellness exams along with a prescribed regimen of vaccinations at the following schedule:
--The first Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, and Coronavirus (DHLPPC) vaccine at six to eight weeks of age. This is an important first vaccination that puppies need to boost immunity against the most common dangers to a young dog's health and well-being.
--The second DHLPPC vaccination at 10 to 12 weeks of age.
--A rabies shot is recommended at roughly 12 to 24 weeks of age. Many states require that dogs receive a rabies shot, be sure to check the local statutes in your area.
--A third and final DHLPPC vaccination is highly recommended at around 14 to 16 weeks of age.
From here, your puppy will not need to have another vet appointment on the books until around 60 to 72 months, at which point the dog will be spayed or neutered. Vaccines are very important for keeping your puppy safe, so don't miss any of the shots that are recommended on the schedule.
Adulthood (1 to 7 years of age)As your dog matures into a full-grown adult, annual check-ups are recommended with a full examination from teeth to tail and everywhere else in between. Vaccination boosters may also be necessary. During these visits it's very important that you discuss any questions or concerns you may have about your dog's health and behavior. While your veterinarian might notice some issues with your pup's well-being, it's always a good idea to bring anything that is worrying you about your dog to the vet's attention. This is why these vet visits are so crucial to your pup's development, make sure the dog receives a clean bill of health every time. If not, you want to be able to have your vet diagnose and treat the problem early on.
Senior Dogs (7+ years of age)Much like humans, dogs may face certain health challenges or requirements as they get older. The potential for injury becomes greater with age. That's why veterinarians recommend that dogs older than the age of 7 years be seen at least twice a year.
Scheduling an appointment every six months allows for the veterinarian to conduct all the services of a routine annual checkup while performing a variety of diagnostic tests that monitor the feces and the blood to ensure a clean bill of health. These tests are not just a good way to track the health of your pup but provide a clear medical history by which future tests may be measured and compared.
If the veterinarian identifies a concerning health matter, a number of follow-up visits may be needed to treat the dog to maintain good health. Recommendations may be made to reduce any pain or discomfort the dog might experience in their senior years and help to alleviate the conditions that are causing it. In the event the condition can't be cured outright, your veterinarian may be able to help your pet manage the symptoms.
Emergency VisitsRoutine vet visits are vital for good health but if your dog becomes sick or gets injured for whatever reason that may mean a trip to the emergency veterinarian is necessary. Most vets keep normal office hours but, in the event of an emergency, you should have a secondary veterinarian on call ready to help. Your primary veterinarian should have some suggestions as to who he or she would recommend in case of emergency. Have that number handy at all times because you just never know when you will need it. Wondering if your dog might have the flu? Here are the most common symptoms of the dog flu.
So what constitutes an emergency? If your dog is experiencing any of the following, your best bet is to go to the emergency veterinarian immediately:
- Breathing issues
- Injury as a result of an accident or altercation with an animal
- Excessive vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Swallowing a foreign object
- Abdominal bloating
Need a unique dog tag? Check out these super cute Dog Tags!