With almost 30 years in the pet care industry under our belts, there’s one thing that has never changed. And that’s our stance on pet parents asking questions. We believe there’s no such thing as a dumb question, especially when it comes to pet ownership.
So if you feel embarrassed for wondering, “How often should I take my dog to the vet?” Don’t be. Knowing the facts is better for your dog's health (and your peace of mind!).
There’s rarely a one-size-fits-all answer, no matter the question. Case in point: How often should you take your dog to the vet? Well, it depends.
Annual Checkups and Wellness Exams
A good baseline for how often you should take your dog to the vet is an annual checkup, or what’s sometimes called a wellness exam.
This once-a-year veterinary appointment is a preventive care visit. The vet (or vet tech) will check your dog’s weight, vital signs, and regular bloodwork. In addition, they will take a look at his or her coat, teeth, gums, eyes, and ears. They may ask you about their eating and exercise habits, too.
They’ll also check on your dog’s current vaccinations and recommend booster shots as needed. You can inquire about titer testing at this appointment, too. A titer test is an antibody test that can determine your dog’s immunity to certain diseases. Titer tests are not mandatory, but you may choose to use them rather than vaccinating.
This yearly visit often detects diseases or other health conditions that can impact the quality of your dog’s life, so we strongly recommend not skipping it. Plus, you can use this visit as an opportunity to ask your vet any questions you may have about your dog or discuss any concerns or questionable behaviors.
How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet Based on Age?
One factor that affects the frequency of vet appointments, outside of annual checkup visits, is your dog’s age. Just like in humans, a dog’s development and immune system build over time (and also decline as they age). Here’s our best recommendation for how often you should take your dog to the vet based on age.
If you have a puppy, expect to see your vet regularly in his or her first year! Typically your veterinarian will recommend some core vaccinations every few weeks starting at about 8 weeks of age.
While you might feel like you’re running back and forth to the vet’s office every month during the puppy stage, it is the best way to give your dog a healthy headstart on a long and happy life. Plus, with every visit, they check for heartworms, fleas, and ticks while recommending the best preventative medicines to keep them at bay.
Once your dog stops growing, he or she is considered an adult. (If only it were that easy for humans, right?!). An adult dog is usually one-to-eight years old, depending on its breed and size.
An annual checkup or wellness visit is usually all they need for healthy adult dogs from a preventative care perspective.
However, don’t hesitate to make an appointment if your dog experiences a fall, hits his or her head hard, or encounters an unfriendly critter like a snake or hornet. If you live in a rural area, you may want to call just in case you find a tick on your dog, too.
At around eight years old, your dog qualifies as a senior pet. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to see a senior citizen discount program that caters to dogs.
All jokes aside, your senior dog will likely begin to see the vet twice a year. This allows your vet to monitor potential health issues and keep an eye on things that “wear out” as dogs age, like teeth and joints. You can also work together to determine when it’s time to switch dog foods to a lower-calorie blend to match your older dog’s activity level.
How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?
As we mentioned earlier, how often you take your dog to the vet really depends on your furry friend, breed-based health issues, and your family’s lifestyle. Some dogs thrive with one vet visit a year, while others are greeted as a regular as soon as they trot through the door. If you ever wonder about overdoing it on vet visits, consider joining an expert-led, online pet parent community to offer support and solidarity. At Ruffly Speaking, we help pet parents make informed decisions on just about everything!
Founded by world-renowned The Dog Gurus, Ruffly Speaking is a membership community that offers real-time training exercises, insider information on the latest dog products and food, and access to some of the most experienced dog trainers and pet professionals around. We’d love to see you inside!