How often should you schedule vet appointments for your dog?
Dogs can’t tell us when something hurts or isn’t right. It’s up to us to monitor our pets for early symptoms of illness and stay on top of regular wellness checkups and preventive health care with a veterinarian. But how often should you schedule a vet appointment for your dog? And when can you utilize telehealth? Read on to learn more, including:
- The general vet checkup recommendations for your dog based on age
- What to do in case of an emergency
- Preventive measures you can take to manage health issues proactively
All dog parents want the best for their fur babies, but it can be difficult to know exactly what they need. Like humans, dogs need healthcare on an ongoing basis. On average, dog owners schedule a vet appointment for routine checkups about twice a year. If your dog is healthy, in their prime years, and up to date on regular vaccines, this may be enough to keep them in good health.
Telehealth can be a good option for non-emergency vet appointments, saving dog owners the time and inconvenience of traveling to a vet clinic. Most dog owners in the U.S. have seen a vet in the past 6 months, and when surveyed, indicated that the purpose of their visit was to address an emergency only about 10% of the time.
Online appointments make it easier than ever to see a vet
Telehealth can be a good option for dogs who need frequent veterinary attention to maintain their health. 60% of dog owners who have used telehealth did so to conveniently access medications, such as flea and tick preventatives. Dogs who require ongoing medication may need to see a vet much more frequently than healthy dogs. Dogs with pre-existing conditions, new puppies who have not received all of their vaccinations, and senior dogs who are 10 years or older typically benefit from more frequent vet appointments, anywhere from three times a year to once every three weeks. Some lucky dogs may be able to replace a portion of their in-person vet visits with online virtual care appointments at times more convenient to your schedule.
What are the general check-up recommendations for dogs by age?
One factor that affects the recommended frequency of regular wellness checks for your pup is their age. There is no exact schedule for every dog to see a vet, but you can use guidelines based on age to get a general checkup timeline for a normal, healthy dog.
Newborn puppies up to 6-8 months
You should schedule a vet appointment for your puppy every three to four weeks to receive necessary preventive health care, like vaccinations and parasite control. These wellness exams are also a perfect opportunity for your vet to monitor their growth and check in on any behavior and training concerns. Puppy visits usually wrap up at about six to eight months of age, and this is when you and your vet will decide on the best time to spay or neuter.
Adult pups between 1-7 years of age
Your pup is considered an adult dog in their prime years from about age one to seven. Even if they’re healthy, they should see a vet for a regular wellness checkup at a very minimum of once per year. Many dogs benefit from twice-yearly checkups, especially breeds that are predisposed to specific health issues, such as dental disease. Your vet will give your dog an all-over check-up, order any necessary lab work, like blood and stool tests to screen for parasites, and administer vaccines.
Older dogs and senior dogs 7+ years of age
Dogs over seven years of age are considered senior dogs. Even healthy older dogs can benefit from a more frequent consultation with a vet at an average of two to three times per year to monitor their wellness. Older dogs have a higher likelihood of developing kidney or liver disease, dental disease, and other health issues. Your vet may screen for additional concerns depending on your dog and its prior health issues. Catching signs of illness early can keep your dog feeling their best and help them to have a long and happy life.
What do I do in an emergency?
In an emergency situation, getting help for your dog as soon as possible can make a difference in the outcome. Keep the number for poison control and the closest emergency vet on hand for situations that arise outside of normal vet office hours. A Vetster online vet will always advise you to obtain emergency care if your dog is determined to be in a situation that requires urgent medical attention.
Keep in mind that when your dog visits the vet for an emergency or sick visit, it does not take the place of their regular check-up. When your dog is sick, it may not be advisable to administer regular vaccines or boosters, and their overall health condition may be difficult to determine. If your dog requires an unexpected vet visit for an illness or emergency, let the vet know if they have a routine checkup in the near future, and the vet can advise you on whether you may need to reschedule.
Preventive health care and wellness
Telehealth can save you from making extra trips to the vet and allow you to stay on top of your dog’s health. It is important to address even minor health concerns so that they don’t escalate into a bigger problem that may be more difficult to treat. Dogs will often continue to eat and play even if they are in pain or discomfort, so it is important to pay attention to signs and symptoms and contact a vet if you notice anything out of the ordinary. Your dog’s wellness routine shouldn’t stop at annual vaccinations and routine checkups. There are other important reasons your dog may need to see a vet throughout the year. These include wellness visits, managing chronic health conditions, and treating illnesses.
Physical maintenance, grooming, and wellness habits
Good wellness habits should be part of your daily care routine along with services provided by animal care professionals that may include the following:
- Adequate exercise
- Good nutrition, especially preventing obesity
- Dental care, both at home and professional cleanings
- Nail trimming or filing
- Skin and coat care
- Behavior and training
Chronic health conditions
Dogs who have chronic or ongoing health conditions may require more frequent vet visits or check-ins to monitor their condition. Some conditions that require more attention by a vet may include:
- Canine diabetes
- Liver tumors or cancers
- Congenital heart defects
Temporary illnesses and ailments
During a virtual vet appointment, a vet can assess your dog's overall condition via video chat and, depending on your location, even diagnose specific health problems that may occur from time to time, such as:
While some physical maintenance and issues may need to be addressed in person, many wellness visits, treatments, and behavioral concerns can be addressed via telehealth. During an online virtual care appointment, a vet can advise you on health concerns and create a wellness plan for your dog based on its breed, health condition, and circumstances. You can book a virtual vet appointment for questions and concerns about your dog from the comfort of your home.
FAQ - How often should you schedule vet appointments for your dog?
Do dogs need a yearly checkup?
Yes, dogs need regular checkups to stay on top of their health just like humans do. It is important to keep up with their recommended schedule of vaccines. How often your dog should have a routine checkup depends on several factors, including their age and health condition.
How do I know if my dog needs to see a vet?
Even a healthy dog needs to go to the vet several times a year. If your dog is displaying symptoms of an illness or has an injury, it is always better to be safe than sorry. A telehealth appointment can address many non-emergency situations and during a virtual care appointment, the vet will let you know if your dog must receive a physical exam in person. You should contact a vet if your dog is displaying the following symptoms, such as:
- Sudden weight loss
- Red or cloudy eyes
- Eye discharge
- Significant changes in stool consistency or volume
However, if your dog is displaying emergency symptoms, contact an emergency vet immediately. Emergency symptoms include:
- Open wounds
- Non-stop or unproductive vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
- Seizures (unless your dog is already diagnosed with epilepsy)
- Loss of consciousness
- Wobbliness, dragging limbs, or sudden disorientation
How often should my dog get shots?
Dogs can receive a variety of shots, from vaccine boosters to shots to treat pain, allergies, or inflammation. Your veterinarian will give you a schedule for your dog’s recommended vaccinations and let you know what other vaccines and treatment your dog may need.
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