Depending on who you ask, the ‘how often should I take my dog to the vet?’ question could get different answers. However, the frequency of your dog’s visit to the vet should actually change with time. Here is what we mean.
Babe/Toddler: New-born To 1 Year Old
If your pups were birthed at home, you want to take them (together with their mother) to the hospital within 48 hours. The vet should check their vital stats and generally declare them OK.
Now, your vet will definitely tell you how often you should bring your new born in. However, generally, new pups should be visiting their vet as often as 4 weeks till they are about 4 months old.
This is the period when your dog will get their first immunization shots. They’ll be immunized for everything from rabies and distemper to Lyme disease and influenza.
Furthermore, if there are laws in your area concerning flea and tick and heartworm prevention, this is the period when your pup will be getting those treatments.
After the 4-month mark, your vet will probably request that you bring in your dog when they are about 6 months.
At this point, they’ll check to be sure that your pup is growing normally and there are no deformities or illnesses.
In addition to that, it is recommended that you neuter and spay your dogs at about 6 months because at this point most females have not yet gone into heat.
It makes better sense to do this before the female goes into heat so that the situation is easier to manage.
Adolescent/Adult: 1 Year To 7 Years (And Sometimes 10 Years)
From the age of 1, your dog has already begun to enter into adulthood and at this point, visits to the vet can be reduced to once a year.
This one time, your vet will carry out a comprehensive check on your dog. They want to make sure that your dog has not developed any complications so far.
They’ll also make sure that the immunizations are doing what they need to.
For the first year, your dog will be getting immunization boosters for rabies and distemper.
After that, the boosters could be taken every 3 years or so. However, how frequently your dog will need boosters for rabies will depend on the law provisions in your state.
As for other issues like Lyme disease, influenza and kennel cough, those could be taken during every yearly check-up.
Senior Citizen: 7 Years (And Sometimes 10 Years) And Older
As your dog begins to enter old age, you’ll need to bring them in more frequently; however, not as frequently as you would a puppy. Bringing in a senior dog twice a year should be good enough.
The reason a senior dog needs more frequent check-ups is because while development is incremental, it gets retrogressive. This is when one can begin to see a reduction in certain organ functions the older a body gets.
So, your dog will definitely need to be checked more often to be sure that no complications have developed. During the check-up would be a good time for you to inform your vet if there have been any changes with your dog.
Vaccinations will continue as is and more tests might be added the older your dog gets.
Finally, to make the vet visits faster and easier for everyone involved, you could always carry a sample of your dog’s poop with you so that your vet can check for intestinal parasites (source).
Of course, all these go without saying that you need to report any abnormalities with your dog to your vet immediately, regardless of whether or not they have gone for their yearly check-up.