Do you have a furry companion that you haven’t taken to the vet in years? You’re not alone. Many dog owners put off vet visits for a variety of reasons, but neglecting your dog’s health can lead to serious problems down the road. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of regular vet check-ups, signs that it’s time to schedule an appointment, and tips for making vet visits less stressful for both you and your dog.
My Experience With Not Taking My Dog to the Vet
Growing up, I never took my family dog to the vet regularly. We only went when there was an issue that needed immediate attention, such as a wound or illness. It wasn’t until I adopted my own dog as an adult that I learned the importance of regular vet visits.
For the first few years of my dog’s life, I took her to the vet once a year for her annual check-up and vaccinations. But one year, I got busy with work and forgot to schedule her appointment. I figured since she seemed healthy, it wouldn’t be a big deal to skip one year.
About six months later, I noticed that one of my dogs had developed a persistent cough. I assumed it was a minor respiratory infection and didn’t think much of it. But as the weeks went by, her cough got worse and she started losing her appetite. That’s when I realized my mistake of not taking her to the vet regularly.
When I finally took her to the vet, they discovered that she had developed heartworm disease. It was a scary and traumatic experience, and I felt terrible for not taking her to the vet sooner. She had to undergo treatment for several months and required a lot of care and attention to help her recover.
Thankfully, my dog pulled through and is now doing well. But the experience taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of regular vet visits. I now make sure to schedule her appointments on time and have peace of mind knowing that I’m doing everything I can to keep her healthy and happy.
Why Taking Your Dog to the Vet Is Important
Taking your dog to the vet is important for several reasons:
Regular vet check-ups can help prevent serious health problems from developing. During these visits, the vet will examine your dog and give the necessary vaccinations to protect them from diseases. They may also check for parasites and perform a general health check.
By taking your dog to the vet on a regular basis, any potential health problems can be caught and treated early. This can prevent minor issues from becoming major ones and can increase the chances of a positive outcome.
Behavioral and Nutrition
Regular visits to the vet also allow them to assess your dog’s behavior, which can be indicative of underlying health issues or stress. They can also provide guidance on nutrition, weight management, and any other lifestyle-related issues to ensure your dog is healthy and happy.
Peace of Mind
Finally, taking your dog to the vet regularly can provide you with peace of mind knowing that you are doing everything you can to keep your furry companion healthy. You will also have the ability to ask any questions you may have about your dog’s health, behavior, or well-being.
How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet
How often someone should take their dog to the vet depends on the dog’s age, health status, and individual needs. Here are some general guidelines for vet visits:
- Puppies: Puppies need to see the vet more frequently than adult dogs. They should visit the vet at 6 to 8 weeks, 10 to 12 weeks, and 14 to 16 weeks for vaccinations and check-ups.
- Adult dogs: Adult dogs should see the vet at least once a year for a routine wellness exam and vaccinations.
- Senior dogs: Dogs over 7 years old are considered seniors and should see the vet every six months for a wellness exam and bloodwork to check for age-related health issues.
Of course, these are general guidelines and some dogs may require more frequent vet visits depending on their individual health needs. It’s important to work with a veterinarian to create a personalized healthcare plan for your dog that includes regular check-ups and preventative care.
Experts report the following for how often dog owners should take their dogs to the vet.
“Puppies should visit the vet every 3 to 4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old for a series of vaccinations and check-ups.” – American Veterinary Medical Association
“Adult dogs should visit the veterinarian at least once a year for a routine wellness exam and vaccinations.” – American Animal Hospital Association
“Senior dogs should see the veterinarian every six months to catch any potential health problems early.” – PetMD
What to Do When You Haven’t Taken Your Dog to the Vet in Years
Since you haven’t taken your dog to the vet in years, you probably either don’t have a record of shots or you’re ashamed of showing the vet the record that indicates you’re long overdue. The good news is that you don’t have to worry about the records. Learn what to do when you don’t have the shot records or don’t want to show them in this article: I Don’t Have My Dog’s Shot Records
It’s best to find a different veterinarian than you used before since they will have a record of when the last time it was you took your pup there. This way, you can start a brand new medical record with the new vet.
The veterinarian will likely ask when the last time it was that your pup has been seen. You can simply say you’re not sure when it was that you last had a vet appointment, but you know that vaccines are due.
What to Expect at Routine Vet Appointments
When a dog is a puppy, vet visits are usually for the dog owner to ask questions about how best to take care of their new pet. The veterinarian will check the pet’s eyes, ears, and body for proper development and assess any issues related to the dog’s health.
Annual wellness exams consist of a heartworm test, temperature check, and assessment for any health issues. The physical exam includes looking at the ears, eyes, nails, and paws and inspecting the coat for any signs of fleas. Unless the pet parents do not have any pressing questions, annual wellness exams are not stressful.
If any issues are discovered or if pet parents bring up problems noticed, the vet may recommend a blood test to identify any health issues related to the symptoms.
Regular Vet Visits for Older Dogs
When a dog turns 10 years old, he/she is considered a senior dog. In addition to annual checkups, older dogs should have more frequent visits – every 6 months.
The veterinarian will likely recommend a blood test for senior dogs to rule out any medical concerns, such as kidney disease. Early detection is key to successful treatment.
Since older dogs are more likely to suffer from health issues, it’s a good idea to have a physical exam more often to maintain general health.
Vaccinations from Puppies to Senior Dogs
Each appointment during the first 16 weeks of life is also for vaccinations. These are the vaccinations given:
6-8 Weeks – DAP, Bordetella, Parainfluenza
10-12 Weeks – DAP, Leptospirosis, Lyme, Canine Influenza
14-16 Weeks – DAP, Rabies, Leptospirosis, Lyme, Canine Influenza
After 16 weeks, a dog needs Rabies, Leptospirosis, Lyme, Canine Influenza, and Bordetella annually. Rabies can be given every three years and after the initial 3 DAP vaccines, the booster is given every three years as well.
Vaccinations do not require a special appointment. They can be administered during regular checkups.
Vaccinations are important for maintaining general health. While some pet parents decide to forego vaccinations for their furry friends, it is not recommended.
How Often Should You Take a Dog to the Vet?
You should take your dog to the vet as often as needed to maintain your dog’s health. Healthy adult dogs should visit the vet annually. Puppies and senior dogs older than 10 years of age require frequent visits.
You love your pooch and you want him/her to be in your life for as long as possible. You can increase the chances of that by taking your furry friend to regular check-ups and following your vet’s recommendations for overall health.
Contact a Vet Online
Did you know you can chat with a vet online for a very low cost? It’s great to know that at a moment’s notice, you can speak to a veterinarian about your pet. Learn more about it by reading: Can You Call a Vet and Ask Questions?