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How Often to Take Your Dog to the Vet? [Save Additional Vet Costs]

Updated by Sheryl on Nov 4, 2021

Raising a pet is a matter of great responsibility. So, taking care of a pet's physical and mental health will always be a top priority of every pet owner. That's why dog parents' primary concern is about how often to take the dog to the vet. Mainly, it depends on your pup's age, overall health condition and, specific medical emergencies. For example, puppies and senior dogs need to visit a vet more often due to vaccinations or age-related health problems. But only an annual check-up is enough for healthy adult dogs.

However, taking preventive health measures can keep your dog healthy and save the cost of a vet visit.

dog and vet
  • How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet
  • When to Take Puppies to Vet after Birth
  • How Often to Take Puppies to the Vet
  • How Often Do Adult Dogs Need to Go to Vet
  • How Often Senior Dogs Need to Go to Vet
  • When to Go to the Vet Right Away
  • How Much Does It Cost to Take a Dog to the Vet
  • How To Help a Dog Who Fears to See the Vet
  • FAQs

Generally, you should take your dog to the vet once a year for a thorough physical exam. It will give you a clue about your pet's growth and development. In addition, it allows you to talk about your concerns to the vet. After an overall checkup, your vet will update you about any illnesses or issues early, the key to preventative care. Finally, he will recommend medication and activities based on the health status of your pup.

However, the once-a-year medical checkup rule only applies to healthy adult dogs. Based on the age and different life stages, you might need to follow a different vet visit schedule.

If the new puppies are breathing, moving, and feeding after birth, it means they are fine and don't need a vet visit. However, if they have mentioned problems, take them to the vet immediately.

  • Not moving
  • Irregular or no breathing
  • Underweight as compared to its littermates
  • Trouble in suckling
  • Not making a noise

From birth to one year old is puppyhood. You should take the pup to the vet once every 3 to 4 weeks after birth until 16 months old. These visits mainly cover vaccinations and general checkups.

At 8 weeks, pups get a combined first shot for distemper, corona, hepatitis, parvo and, parainfluenza. Then, at 10 to 12 weeks, they get the second dose of DA2PP and Leptospirosis. Afterward, the third dose of DA2PP, Lepto, and Rabies is given at 14 to 16 months. The dogs who visit pet gatherings might also need a Kennel cough shot. And most puppies are spayed or neutered at 6 to 9 months of age.

However, the vaccination schedule may differ depending on your location and your pup's health status. You might be worried about the vet cost, but these shots and visits will prove to be lifesavers for your pet. Not only this, your pup will get used to the vet at an early age that might reduce its vet visit-related fear.

dog and vet

One to eight years old dog is considered as an adult dog. Adult dogs need an annual check-up to determine their overall health status. A complete physical exam once a year is enough for healthy dogs. However, it is crucial to take them to the animal hospital right away if they show symptoms of illness.

This annual check-up will cover vaccinations, especially booster shots, physical and dental exams, infection, fleas, and worms. In addition, your dog will get its distemper-parvo and rabies booster shots every three years. The blood samples will identify heartworms, while stool samples will show signs of hidden intestinal parasites. Furthermore, you can seek the vet's advice regarding the behavior and training issues of your dog.

As your dog ages, its diet, activity levels, sleeping, and awakening schedules also change. For example, some breeds are vulnerable to illnesses more often than others. They might also need a diet change or medications. Your vet will let you know if anything is wrong with your pet and how to avoid these.

Eight years and above age dogs are senior dogs. Older dogs should visit the animal hospital for a head-to-tail check-up twice a year. During this visit, your vet will recommend blood tests and compare them with the previous tests to determine if something is wrong.

Your aged furry friend might fall ill more often due to a decreased immunity. The most common age-related health issues your pet might experience are osteoporosis, reduced vision, joint pain, insomnia. Moreover, the lack of mobility can cause weight gain and serious conditions like diabetes and thyroid. Behavior changes are common in senior dogs. In addition, most of them may get liver and kidney disease, cancer, and seizures as they age.

Therefore, frequent vet visits will identify the early symptoms of the disease. This way, you can do your best to ensure a healthy life by providing the proper treatment options to your pet before it's too late.

dog and vet

Some situations are medical emergencies, and you need to take your pet to the vet right away. Here are the symptoms that you should address immediately.

  • Vomiting and diarrhea for more than 24 hours
  • Blood in vomit or stool
  • High fever
  • Blue gums and stopped breathing
  • Choked something
  • Fails to stand up
  • Unconsciousness
  • Poison ingestion
  • Open wounds
  • Blood from nose, mouth, or eyes
  • Hard belly
  • Not defecated for 48 to 72 hours
  • Symptoms of extreme pain
  • Accidents or being fallen from a height
  • Broken bones
  • Seizures and disorientation
  • Refuses to eat and drink

You know your pet better than anyone else. So, if you sense something alarming, don't hesitate to visit a vet. Plus, don't forget to share all of your concerns with the doctor since he is the person who will advise you better than others.

On average, taking a dog to the vet will cost from 50$ to 300$, depending on the type of illness. A routine vet check-up may cost between 50 to 100$. The average first-year vet cost for a small dog is nearly 1500$, for the medium dog is 2000$, and for larger breeds is 2000$-2500$—however, the complex and emergency care costs between 1000$ to 4000$. Therefore, the average estimated lifetime vet cost of your dog can range between 7000$ to 20,000$.

If you can't afford the vet costs, consider these options.

  1. Select pet insurance.
  2. Select the clinics that offer annual wellness programs.
  3. Invest in a pet saving account.
  4. Search for a non-profit foundation for assistance in emergencies.

Most importantly, of course, take good care of your pet, which is a way to reduce veterinarian visits in the first place.

dog and vet

Dogs usually fear the vet because they don't like to be handled by strangers. In addition, most furry pets have a bad vaccination experience. If your dog hates a vet visit, follow these steps.

  1. Get your dog used to vet visits from an early age.
  2. If your pup hates being handled during an exam, start training from your home. For this, restrain your pet and gently check its ears, mouth, and eyes. Make sure to offer treats after a positive result.
  3. Use vet-recommended anxiety drugs before a vet visit.
  4. Create a positive association with the animal's hospital. For this, make random visits to the vet and ask the receptionist to offer a few treats to your furry friend.
  5. If your dog is too aggressive for vet visits, use a muzzle. But make sure that your pup develops a positive association with the muzzle. For this, start practicing muzzle for a short time at home, followed by the favorite treats.
Can I Take My Dog to a Different Vet?
Yes, you can take your dog to a different vet anytime you want. However, your pet can get stressed after seeing the new vet. For making your dog comfortable, make sure to socially visit the new vet office a few times, offer a treat to your dog and just leave.
Do I really need to take my dog to the vet?
In case of medical emergencies, you should really need to take your dog to the vet. However, if your dog seems happy and healthy, you might not need frequent vet visits. Vaccination schedule and a yearly check-up are enough for healthy dogs.
Is it bad not to take your dog to the vet?
It is not a problem if you don't take your dog to the vet unless your pup is happy and healthy. But it is right of your pet to get proper medical treatment in case of an illness.

Final Thoughts

How often to take your dog to the vet depends on your dog's breed and overall health condition. Healthy dogs need one check-up once a year, while puppies and seniors may require frequent visits to the animal hospital. However, in case of emergencies, you should take your pet to the vet right away. In addition, proper preventive measures can save your furry friend from diseases and also you from costly vet bills.


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Sheryl is an editor from iPetor, owns extensive pet care experience. As a professional writer, she can provide useful pet care tips for all "parents".
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