How often should a senior dog go to the vet? What to Know

Don’t Just Stick to the Schedule

Even if your dog doesn’t have an obvious illness or injury, if you notice small changes that spark concern, don’t hold off until your next annual wellness check. The signs of chronic pain can be subtle, and if you notice your dog isn’t as bright as usual, isn’t eating as much, drinking more than normal, or just not acting like they usually do, don’t be afraid to make an appointment with your vet.

“We’d rather have someone call us with what they think might be a silly question, but, in fact, may be a very appropriate observation,” Dr. Klein says. “It’s important to be on top of things, not go just by a strict schedule.”

Kitten or Puppy: Birth to 1 Year

Youll need to bring your little one in for vaccines every 3 to 4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old.

Dogs will get shots for rabies, distemper-parvo, and other diseases. They may also need shots to protect against health woes such as kennel cough, influenza, and Lyme disease.

Cats will get tests for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. They also get vaccinations that cover several diseases.

At this stage, your pet will also start heartworm and flea- and tick-prevention medications, if they’re recommended for your area.

The vet will examine your pup or kitten to make sure they are growing well and shows no signs of an illness. Theyll check again at around 6 months, when you bring your pet in to be spayed or neutered.

“Well also check to see how housebreaking, training, and socialization are going,” Barrett says.

Why Are Regular Wellness Exams So Important?

According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), “annual or biannual exams nip emerging health problems in the bud and are key to extending your pet’s time by your side.” Routine vaccinations keep your pup healthy. And early detection and treatment of any disease or condition give your dog the best possible prognosis. Catching problems early can also save you money and heartache in the long run.

How Often Should My Senior Dog See The Vet

Heres a general guide on how often you might visit the vet, based on your pups age:

One of the (many) things to consider as you think about getting a dog is his vet care, finding the person who will be responsible for the health and wellbeing of your new furry friend.

You also might be wondering how often youll need to take your dog to the veterinarian once you bring the new pup home. The short answer, assuming your dog is healthy: a lot at first, then not so much, then semi-often.

As with cats, the frequency of vet visits depends on myriad factors: your dogs age, any chronic health conditions, where the dog lives, and its breed, says veterinarian Randy Wheeler, the executive director of the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association.

Perhaps proving his point, the American Animal Hospital Association says all pets should get an exam at least once a year. But: Some pets may need more frequent visits, depending on the conditions Wheeler listed.

One of his biggest recommendations, is to develop a relationship with your vet, almost becoming friends so you can get ahold of them whenever problems arise. Plus, theyre the ones wholl definitively tell you when to take your dog to the vet.

The first year of your buddys life might be when you see his vet the most often, potentially monthly for the first half-year of his life, Wheeler says.

The main reason: vaccinations. Those start when your dog is 6–8 weeks old and continue on for the rest of their life.

The recommended shots begin with vaccines for distemper and parvovirus, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). When your puppy is 10–12 weeks old, its time for the DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus) shot. Six weeks after that, its time for another DHPP shot along with the first rabies shot, the AKC says.

During these visits, your vet will examine your pup and recommend flea and tick preventatives while also looking for any evidence of heartworms.

When your dog is 6–9 months old, he will be ready for spaying or neutering, Wheeler says.

When your dog is between 1 and 8 years old, youll still need to visit the vet regularly. If your dog is healthy, once a year might be enough.

Again, your dogs breed or underlying health issues may necessitate more visits, so talk with your vet; theyll know the best plan of action.

Your dog will still need booster shots for the rabies and DHPP vaccines every 1–3 years. He might need more, depending on where you live. Dogs who live in areas where Lyme disease is common may want to get that vaccine, Wheeler says.

Check-ups also give vets the opportunity to check your dogs teeth. Infections and bacteria in dogs teeth can spread to other organs like the liver or kidneys, so its important to make sure theyre in good shape, Wheeler says.

“[Dental health is] critical in our pets and many times overlooked,” he says. “Its being addressed more and more.”

Unclean teeth also cause bad breath, which, you know, stinks. Your vet can tell you how to put a stop to it.

During your visits, your vet can also recommend any diet changes that might be needed if your dog is overweight, or do blood tests to investigate any potential problems.

Youll probably start seeing more of your vet around the time your dog turns 8, roughly twice a year for a healthy dog.

Teeth wear down as dogs get older, so your veterinarian will continue to monitor your dogs chompers. Theyll also do more blood work and consider changes to your dogs diet, perhaps switching to a food with fewer calories.

At this point, youve hopefully been seeing a vet for years, so all the preventative care youve been doing should make the latter stages of life more comfortable for your pup.

Wheeler says that while paying for preventative vet care can be costly, it will likely save money in the long run if your pet stays healthy, avoiding big procedures or illnesses.

It might be tempting to visit vaccine-only clinics or clinics exclusively for spaying and neutering, but your dog might not get all the care he needs, Wheeler says.