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How often do you take a dog to the vet?

Routine exams are a crucial part of caring for your dog and knowing when to bring them is vital. Here, our vets in Poway discuss how often to take your dog to the vet, why these visits are important and the signs that they may need emergency veterinary care.

The Importance of Routine Vet Checkups

Bringing your dog to the vet regularly enables the vet to monitor your pet's general health, detect early signs of disease (when it's easier to treat), and provide advice on preventive products for your four-legged companion.

Vets acknowledge your concerns regarding the expense of check-ups when your dog appears healthy. However, a proactive, preventive approach to your dog's care can reduce the need for costly treatments later on.

How often should I take my dog to the vet?

Taking your dog to the vet for a routine exam is like taking your dog in for a physical. As with people, how often your pet should have a physical depends upon your dog's lifestyle, overall health, 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. 

How often should you take a puppy to the vet?

If your dog is under one year old, you should bring it in for vet checkups once a month.

During your puppy's first year, they will need several rounds of vaccinations to help keep them protected against common infectious diseases such as distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, rabies, and leptospirosis. These vaccines will be given to your puppy over 16 weeks and will go a long way towards keeping your puppy healthy.

The exact timing of your young dog's vaccinations will vary depending on your location and your dog's overall health. Once your dog is between six months and a year of age, you may want to consider spaying or neutering your dog. This is important to prevent various diseases, undesirable behaviors, and unwanted puppies from being born.

How often should you take your adult dog to the vet?

Yearly routine exams are recommended if you have a healthy, active adult dog between one and seven years old.

During your adult dog's exam, your vet will perform a head-to-tail examination to look for early signs of illness or other issues, such as tooth decay, joint pain, or parasites.

Your vet will administer any required vaccines. During this time, your vet will speak to you about the following:

  • Your dog's diet and nutritional requirements
  • Recommended parasite protection
  • Any training or behavioral issues you may be noticing

If your veterinarian detects any signs of developing health issues, they will discuss their findings with you and recommend further steps.

How often should you take a senior dog to the vet?

Dogs are typically categorized as senior or geriatric when they reach approximately eight years of age, except for larger breeds like Great Danes, Irish wolfhounds, mastiffs, and Saint Bernards. These larger breeds tend to age more rapidly than other breeds, necessitating more frequent preventive care, typically commencing around five years of age.

We recommend taking your senior dog to the vet every six months. Twice a year, wellness check-ups for your senior dog will include all of the checks and advice mentioned above but with a few added diagnostic tests to look for issues that are more likely in older dogs and 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.

Geriatric pet care also involves a proactive approach to maintaining your pet's comfort as age-related problems like joint pain become more prevalent. If you have a senior dog, consult your veterinarian to determine the optimal frequency for bringing your pet in for an examination.

Is it bad to not take your dog to the vet?

Keeping your dog healthy is a lot of work, but this is part of your responsibilities as a pet owner.  If you do not bring your dog in for routine checkups, you prevent your veterinarian from being able to spot and address potentially serious health issues while they are still easy to manage. In some cases, minor issues can quickly become emergencies.

When should I take my dog to the emergency vet?

A situation in which emergency veterinary care is needed can happen at any time - day or night - and you'll need to be prepared.

However, even the most vigilant pet parent may find it challenging to know when their dog requires emergency care. That's why it's helpful to know some signs and symptoms that indicate an emergency health issue is happening to your pet. If you aren't sure, contact our emergency veterinary hospital for advice.

Signs That Your Animal is Experiencing a Veterinary Emergency

A pet emergency may come in the form of injuries, sudden illness or disease, ingestion of a foreign object, or an accident that causes trauma to your pet's body. Here are some of the most common signs that it's time to seek emergency veterinary care:

  • Seizures
  • Dilated pupils
  • Swollen, bloated, or painful abdomen
  • Lameness or inability to walk
  • Severe injury (broken bones, gashes, car accidents)
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Loss of balance
  • Inability to urinate or defecate
  • Unable to deliver kittens or puppies
  • Sudden blindness, stumbling, or staggering
  • Extreme coughing, difficulty breathing, or choking
  • Ingestion of poisonous plants, bones, substances, or foods
  • Obvious pain
  • Vomiting or blood in diarrhea
  • Unconsciousness
  • Inflammation or injury to the eye

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.

If your dog is showing any of the signs listed above, please contact our emergency vets right away, day or night. 

Experienced Emergency Vet Care in Poway

Animal Emergency Clinic of San Diego is a family-run after-hours and critical care hospital, providing veterinary emergency care since 1985. If your pet is experiencing an emergency, contact us to get the help your pet needs.

Contact Us

Contact (858) 748-7387