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How Often Should I Take My Dog to The Vet

February 12, 2023
How Often Should I Take My Dog to The Vet

Imagine this – you just got your new puppy, and they're the cutest little thing! You can't help but pick them up and hug them constantly. But amidst all of the cuddles and tail-wagging excitement, there are some not-so-fun aspects of being a pet parent.  

One crucial aspect is ensuring your pup stays healthy. This means taking them to regular checkups with their vet, which should be on the top of your list. In this blog post, we'll cover exactly how often you should take your pup to see the vet so that they stay safe, happy, and healthy for years to come.

How Frequently Should a Pup Visit the Vet?

A puppy must be brought to the vet every three or four weeks until they are sixteen weeks old for required immunizations. Having your puppy vaccinated is crucial, so they are protected against illnesses. The veterinarian will also give your puppy preventative medicines for fleas and heartworms.

What Vaccination Does Your Puppy Need?

You should inquire about the following with your vet:

  • Distemper
  • Kennel cough
  • Rabies
  • Lyme illness
  • Influenza

When Should You Spay or Neuter Your Pup?

After 16 weeks, the vet will want to revisit your puppy at the age of six months. This is when you will bring your puppy to be spayed or neutered, depending on its gender.

At this consultation, the veterinarian will also ensure that your puppy is developing properly. The veterinarian may inquire about the puppy's socialization, training, and housebreaking progress.

How Frequently Should an Adult Dog Visit the Vet?

Once a dog reaches one year of age, they are called an adult. Typically, annual wellness examinations for adult dogs should be performed. At routine examinations, the veterinarian will collect a blood sample. Use both to screen for parasites and heartworms if you've brought a stool sample.

The primary objective of this yearly examination is for the veterinarian to examine your dog from nose to tail. If you have any worries or the veterinarian discovers any issues, they may request testing or treatment for your dog.

It is also time to provide booster injections for several immunizations your dog has previously had. Some vaccinations are required yearly, while others may be administered every three years.

How Often Should You Take Your Senior Dog to the Vet?

Dogs aged 7 to 10 years or older are called senior dogs. Senior dogs will typically have more health difficulties than adult canines. For this reason, veterinarians often advise twice-yearly exams for elderly dogs.

These visits will comprise complete physicals and testing or treatments to tackle any detected concerns. The doctor may test your dog's blood and liver to search for certain diseases most frequent in older canines.

How Frequently Should My Pregnant Dog Visit the Vet?

It’s highly recommended to let a female dog undergo a few heat cycles before breeding them. After a few cycles, she will be physically more mature and likely a better mother to her babies.

It is also necessary to breed responsibly, considering the associated expenditures and the possible mother's and offspring's health. Breeding should not be pursued for amusement or financial gain. Consult a veterinarian beforehand.

When you believe your dog is pregnant, schedule a prenatal checkup. Your veterinarian can advise you on fulfilling your pregnant dog's dietary demands and arrange follow-up appointments. Typically, ultrasounds are performed at the four-week point, and gestation lasts around 63 days.

When Should You Take Your Pet to the Emergency Room?

vet examining sick dog

Because dogs cannot communicate, it is frequently challenging to determine whether to treat them yourself and when to take them to the veterinarian. Some mild crises may be handled at home, but if you're unclear about what to do, you might contact your veterinarian for guidance.

If you have pet insurance, you may have access to a 24-hour vet helpline, which is another resource you might use. However, if there is an imminent risk of death or serious damage, it may be best to bring your dog to the nearest emergency vet facility immediately.

Regardless of the situation, you and your dog should remain as calm as possible. Consider muzzling your pet before entering a veterinarian facility for everyone's safety. Some emergency scenarios that may need a trip to the veterinarian include:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea lasting over six to twelve hours
  • Bloody feces
  • Collapse
  • respiratory troubles
  • a weak or quick pulse
  • Changes in core body temperature
  • Problems walking or standing
  • consciousness loss
  • Seizures

What is an Annual Health Examination?

In general, every dog should have a thorough medical examination at least once each year. Consider it preventative care for your dog. These "wellness examinations" allow you to monitor your dog's growth and development and address any problems with your veterinarian. 

Importantly, yearly exams are a vital component of preventive care. Preventative care encompasses everything you do to care for your dog, including proper nourishment, enough exercise, and frequent veterinary treatment. 

By bringing your dog in for periodic wellness checkups, you may make decisions that will improve their health. You will also discover diseases or problems early, which is crucial for effective treatment.

During yearly wellness checks, the veterinarian will examine your dog thoroughly. They will listen to the dog's heart and lungs, examine its eyes and ears, and search for fleas and other common ailments. They will also update any necessary vaccines. 

Following the examination, the veterinarian may recommend your dog's diet and dental care, as well as activities and drugs, according to your dog's health situation. Over time, you will have a detailed health history of your pet.

According to the American Association of Animal Hospitals, pets are more likely to get ill if they do not see a veterinarian at least once each year. Being proactive about your dog's health may extend their lifespan and save you money over time!

Vaccinations and Examinations at Home

Even having a veterinarian visit your home is a practical alternative that is often relatively economical. Services such as Vetted facilitate bringing the veterinarian to you. In fact, they give Rover readers a $50 discount!

Some local vet clinics also provide in-home visits; be sure to inquire if you believe your pet may benefit. 

Vaccinations From Birth to One Year 

When you acquire a puppy, you get well acquainted with the vet! Experts advocate monthly health checkups throughout early puppyhood. Following a standard immunization schedule, this is once every 3–4 weeks until they reach 16 weeks old.

Here's a basic immunization program for young pups:

  • 6–8 weeks: Initial DHLPPC injection (combined vaccine for distemper, leptospirosis, hepatitis, corona parainfluenza, and parvo). This vaccination is administered over the course of a year.
  • 10–12 weeks: second DHLPPC injection
  • 12–24 weeks: rabies
  • 14–16 weeks: a third dose of DHLPPC

Remember that your puppy's vaccination requirements and timeline may vary based on your area and your dog's unique health profile. Work with your vet to create a suitable plan for your animal.

During puppy wellness checks, the vet will inspect your puppy to ensure it grows well and remains healthy. Once the immunization regimen is done, you can only return until your puppy is spayed or neutered at roughly six months old.

Appointments with the veterinarian for a puppy might seem to be a substantial financial and time commitment. Vaccines, however, protect your dog from infectious infections. In addition, you will guarantee a lifetime of happy interactions by acclimating your puppy to the veterinarian early on!

What to Expect in Adulthood (1-7 years)?

bull dog laying around

As discussed earlier, mature dogs often require yearly wellness checks. Many dogs get a booster vaccine for distemper-parvo and rabies during their first annual visit, at one year of age. Your dog will likely get a kennel cough vaccination if it attends doggie daycare. Following yearly visits, your dog may require rabies shots.

The yearly exam will consist of a head-to-tail examination, heartworm test, dental exam, and immunization updates. There is substantial debate as to whether adult dogs need yearly immunization boosters.

Many veterinarians err on caution when administering booster doses, but this trend is changing. The American Association of Animal Hospitals has announced updated recommendations for pet immunizations that advocate only providing some boosters every few years. If you have an older dog, you should discuss this with your veterinarian.

The veterinarian will inquire about your dog's temperament, training, and general health during the yearly checkup. Depending on your concerns and the veterinarian's examination findings, they may prescribe further testing.

Ideally, you'll develop a cordial and fruitful rapport with the veterinarian over time. And if your dog's not a fan of these vet visits? At least you only have to go once a year!

What to Expect with Senior Dogs (8+ years)?

Older dogs have more specialized health demands and are more prone to disease and age-related injuries. Because of this, elderly dogs should see the veterinarian usually every six months.

Your veterinarian may prescribe a range of diagnostic tests for your senior dog in addition to the standard wellness examinations. These may include blood testing, fecal tests, chest x-rays, ultrasounds, and a blood pressure test.

Diagnostic tests enable your veterinarian to evaluate your dog's health and serve as a benchmark against which subsequent tests may be compared. The findings may be super-helpful later on if your dog develops an ailment since the doctor can go back and examine what “normal” looks like for your dog.

Your veterinarian may prescribe more regular checkups as your dog ages, depending on their health. Regular vet visits will detect changes faster and allow your veterinarian more time to address any concerns.

Most Common Canine Illness to Look Out For

Today, we'll examine the most prevalent dog diseases and some preventative measures you may take for your dog. Maintaining your dog's health and detecting sickness early will improve your pet's health and decrease care costs.

Dental Disease

Oral infections, such as gingivitis and tartar formation, are among the most frequent disorders in dogs that are often diagnosed after the age of three. A more severe variation of this can include dental disorders like abscesses. This group has symptoms such as difficulty chewing or avoiding hard foods, foul breath, discolored teeth or gums, loose teeth, and lumps on or beneath the tongue. 

Maintaining your dog's dental hygiene may help avoid such scenarios from developing. Regular visits to the veterinarian for teeth cleaning may prevent dental problems. Sometimes dog grooming firms may also offer tooth cleaning in their standard packages.

Ear Infection

If you see that your dog constantly scratches at their ears or exhibits repeated head tilting or shaking, they likely have an ear infection. In addition to hair loss, odor, and redness or swelling of the ear canal, there may be other symptoms. If ear infections are recurrent, there is also the chance for allergy involvement. You may try Benadryl but ask your vet first.

You may avoid ear infections by fully drying your dog's ears after exposure to water, using a dog cleaning solution to clean your pet's ears on a regular basis, and controlling allergies correctly.

Skin Irritation

In contrast to the occasional typical scratching habit of dogs, chronic scratching may indicate a skin disease, infection, or allergies. Some dogs might develop skin allergies to certain foods, including soy, wheat, and maize. Other reasons include yeast or bacterial infections that can occasionally result in painful sores or hot spot. 

In rare cases, your veterinarian may prescribe medicines, dietary adjustments, or a specific shampoo to address the skin concerns manifesting.

Pain and Stiffness

Occasionally, as dog's age, they get arthritis and joint discomfort, particularly if they have gained an unhealthy amount of weight for their size. Other possible causes of joint stiffness and discomfort include overuse, bacterial encephalitis, and parasite infection. 

Some possible signs of inflammation and stiffness include uneven gaits, difficulty rising, limb rigidity, edema, muscular spasms, depression, and apparent weariness. The treatment relies on the diseases diagnosed by your veterinarian. 

Kennel Cough

This popular moniker is an umbrella word for a spectrum of respiratory illnesses that may be either bacterial or viral that harm the windpipe and voice box. 

The bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica and the canine parainfluenza virus are the most prevalent culprits. Kennel Cough derives its name from the capacity of a respiratory illness to rapidly spread via enclosed spaces with restricted air circulation, such as kennels and animal shelters. These pathogens may spread by sharing air, water, and items. 

A dry cough, choking sound, fever, and coughing up white foam often indicate a respiratory disease. One contraction prevention strategy is ensuring your dog's vaccines are up to date. To treat these respiratory diseases, you should visit a veterinarian and separate your pet from other animals to avoid future transmission.


Many dog owners have difficulties recognizing whether their companion is overweight, making weight control for canines a tough issue. This health condition is thus one of the most neglected threats to pet lifespan. This is often the case because a variety of health issues, including high blood pressure, chronic renal disease, arthritis, liver disease, poor thyroid hormone production, diabetes, and cancer, frequently accompany obesity. 


Contrary to its name, ringworm is a highly infectious fungus that may infect the skin, hair, and nails. It may also cause patches of hair loss in dogs. Unfortunately, ringworm may also readily transmit from dogs to humans. 

Circular, sometimes red-centered patches are used to diagnose this ailment and correspond with the disorder's name. Skin sores on the head, ears, paws, and forelimbs are another sign to watch out for; however, dogs can have this disease without showing any symptoms. 

Dogs under a year old, malnourished, or sick are also more likely to get ringworm. Ringworm treatment depends on the severity of the illness and should be identified by a medical practitioner.


Unfortunately, the name of this disease accurately describes a parasitic worm that dwells in the heart and arteries of affected animals. Heartworm is a disease that is transferred between animals through mosquitoes.

Blood tests should be performed annually for the detection of heartworms. These parasites migrate through circulation, destroying arteries and organs and often spreading to the heart and lungs after six months. 

There may be no symptoms, weight loss, lethargy, hard breathing, coughing, or vomiting. This illness is dangerous if left untreated but can be completely prevented with affordable treatment.


Comparable to humans, dogs may acquire Type I and Type 2 diabetes and endure some of the same complications associated with the condition. Type I diabetes is the most prevalent type of illness in dogs, necessitating insulin treatment for survival. This happens when a dog's pancreas cannot generate enough insulin for the body to operate. 
Signs that your dog may be diabetic include increased thirst, weight loss, sweet or fruity breath, the development of cataracts, persistent skin or urinary tract infections, and lethargy. Some breeds are also more vulnerable to developing these diseases than others. 

Working with a veterinarian who thoroughly understands diabetes is essential for keeping your dog in excellent health.


Approximately 6 million canines in the United States are diagnosed with cancer every year. However, cancer is not always deadly, despite being one of the most challenging disorders to diagnose. Once the diagnosis is established, however, many of the same therapeutic choices accessible to humans are also available for dogs, like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery.

Can Pet Insurance Cover Veterinarian Visits?

In addition to being busy and potentially unsure of which veterinarian to select, money is one of the most common reasons for putting off a visit to the veterinarian. Pet insurance might ease your concerns about uncovering a pricey condition during a regular examination.

How much would you be able to spend on your pet in case of a costly accident or illness? Would a $5,000 or $10,000 veterinary cost be a significant financial burden? What about chronic sickness prescription costs of $2,400 per year? According to a recent Forbes Advisor poll of dog owners, you're not alone if such expenses might cause you to incur credit card debt or prohibit you from saving for retirement.

Even though the therapy might prolong or perhaps save your dog's life, 31% of dog owners claim they cannot afford up to $2,000 in medical fees. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they could not afford veterinary expenses under $5,000.

If your dog becomes injured or unwell, the finest pet insurance will assist in reducing your out-of-pocket expenses for unexpected care expenditures. Some insurance covers regular care, making yearly physicals and immunizations more affordable.

Bottom Line

golden retriever smiling

Taking your dog to the vet is one of the most important things you can do as a pet owner. It's essential to keep up with their vaccinations and check-ups, especially as they age. By doing this, you're ensuring that your furry friend lives a long and healthy life. So how often should you take your dog to the vet? 

Puppies should go every few weeks while they're getting vaccinated, then every month until they're six months old. After that, adults should go at least once a year for a check-up (more if they have health problems). 

Senior dogs over seven years old may need to go twice a year or more, depending on their health. Of course, if your dog is sick or injured, don't hesitate to bring them in for an emergency visit. 

The bottom line is that regular vet visits are essential for all dogs - no matter their age - so make sure to schedule appointments for your pooch throughout their lifetime.

* All the information and content in this blog post are intended for informational purposes only. It should not be a substitute for professional or medical advice. You should always speak with a licensed professional before you follow anything you read in this blog post.

The information is provided by By Hilda Wong. While we try to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the post for any purpose.

Dr. Hilda Wong, MD

My name is Dr. Hilda Wong, MD, graduated from Avalon University School of Medicine. I have over 5 years of medical externship experience and a published researcher on PubMed. I'm also a health and nutrition enthusiast and have written several blogs and magazines in these areas. Forgot to mention that I own a Toy Australian Shepherd and a Betta Fish, and have an amazing zest for life, fashion, health, nutrition, and pets.

Dr. Hilda Wong, MD