As a pet owner, you’re probably asking yourself: how often do you have to take your dog to the vet? Generally, you should bring your doggo to the vet’s clinic once a year for its annual checkup. Still, the frequency of vet visits depend on your dog’s overall health condition and the emergencies that may happen along the way.
What will happen if you don’t bring your dog to the vet?
Lack of veterinary care will compromise your dog’s life. Like humans, pets also need proper medical attention to treat and prevent potential illnesses.
While some dogs can recover from mild illnesses on their own, it’s not humane to let them suffer unnecessary pain and discomfort. Not bringing your sick dog to the vet means you’re letting your pet suffer while you sit and watch.
Ultimately, failure to bring your dog to the vet can lead to its death. And if someone reports you to the authorities, you can be charged with a misdemeanor, and in worst cases, a felony.
Remember that your dog is your responsibility. If you can’t afford veterinary care, some organizations can help provide subsidies for the treatment.
Also, if you’re planning to get a dog for a pet, make sure that you’re ready to face the challenges that come with it. This includes emergency vet visits and routine vet checks.
How often do you have to take your dog to the vet?
Technically, there’s no rule on how frequently you should bring your dog to the vet. It all boils down to your pet’s health condition and individual needs.
Remember that you’re not supposed to bring your dog to the vet only when it’s sick. Being proactive will save your dog from life-threatening illnesses and your pocket from expensive vet bills.
Most vets will ask you to take your dog to the clinic at least once a year. This is when we set aside potential health problems that may occur during the entire year.
To help you know how many times your dog needs to visit the vet, here are some factors to consider:
Age of your dog
Senior dogs (age 8+ years)
Older dogs tend to require more vet visits than their younger counterparts. This is usually the case once your pet turns 8 years old, even if it’s a healthy canine.
Old age is often associated with worn-out teeth in dogs. This means your senior pet will be more prone to dental problems and infections.
At the same time, old dogs have weak bones and they often suffer from joint problems. It requires periodic vet visits to ensure that your canine is living the best quality of life possible.
Adult dogs (age 1 to 7 years)
Adult dogs usually require a minimum of one vet visit per year. This is the annual wellness exam that includes a head-to-tail examination.
Aside from that, adult dogs may need yearly booster shots of the vaccines they got during puppyhood. However, this may vary based on the veterinarian’s discretion. Many vets will opt to err on the side of caution, especially if your dog is at risk of contracting such infections or diseases.
During the annual wellness exam, your dog’s vet will also ask questions about the canine’s training, behavior, and overall health. This way, the vet will know whether he or she needs to perform additional tests.
Puppies (from birth to 1 year)
Once puppies are born, they require intensive veterinary attention. Most breeders will perform monthly vet checks for the pups until they are placed into their new owners.
During the first 6 to 8 weeks of your pup’s life, it needs to receive the first DHLPPC shot. This is a cocktail vaccine that combines shots for distemper, hepatitis, and leptospirosis. It also includes shots for parainfluenza, parvovirus, and coronavirus.
Once your pup turns 12 weeks old, it needs to re-visit the vet for the second DHLPPC vaccination. This will be followed by the rabies vaccine anywhere between your pup’s 12th to 24th week.
And between your puppy’s 14 to 16 weeks of life, it will be given a third dose of the DHLPPC vaccine.
Remember that this schedule varies per state and the recommendation of your pet’s veterinarian. Your dog must receive all core shots to protect it against life-threatening diseases.
Once your pup completes its vaccination, the next vet visit would be for neutering or spaying. Like getting its vaccines, fixing a dog requires proper timing to prevent hormonal imbalances that could negatively affect its growth.
Health problems of your dog
Aside from age, health problems will also affect the frequency of your dog’s vet visit. Technically, canines with lingering illnesses need to visit the vet more often than their healthier counterparts.
Health conditions like canine diabetes, arthritis, kidney failure, asthma, and heart disease are just some that require lifelong care among dogs. Regardless of your pet’s age, it will need regular vet visits if the dog suffers from any serious health problem.
Take note that most health problems among canines won’t go away on their own. Worse, putting off treatment will just make your pet’s condition worse. In the long run, your dog will suffer more and you’ll face a bigger vet bill.
With this, it’s best to bring your sick dog to the vet the moment you notice potential symptoms. As mentioned, it’s best to be proactive when it comes to your dog’s health.
Warning signs that your dog needs to see the vet
Aside from routine vet visits, it’s also important to watch out for warning signs that indicate a medical emergency. This means that you need to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
Here are some of the tell-tale signs that likely require a vet visit:
🐶Difficulty in breathing
Panting is normal for dogs, but if your pet is breathing rapidly or seems to be having difficulty breathing, you should rush it to the vet immediately. This is much so for brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs, which are prone to life-threatening respiratory distress.
Take note that breathing difficulty can be anywhere from a case of allergies or a life-threatening episode of overheating. It’s best to err on the side of caution by bringing the dog to the vet.
🐶Poor balance or unusual movement
Is your dog walking like a drunken sailor? If so, you should call the vet immediately. Poor balance and uncontrolled movements might be a sign of neurological problems or a serious injury.
Aside from that, you should never dismiss a limp. This limp could be the onset of dysplasia or an injured tendon.
🐶Changes in stool color
If your dog’s stool has developed an unusual color like maroon, orange, gray, green, or purple, you should consult the vet. These color changes in your dog’s stool indicate various health problems in and out of the digestive system.
However, make sure that you also factor in any supplements or medications your dog is taking. If your pet is under a specific drug, you should ask the vet if stool changes are expected side effects.
Aside from changes in stool color, you should also consult the vet if your dog experiences severe constipation or recurring diarrhea.
🐶Rashes or skin irritations
Dog breeds like Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus are prone to skin problems. It could be triggered by allergies, dermatitis, or other health conditions. It’s best to consult your dog’s vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Take note that an itch that never goes away might be a sign of an underlying health problem. Your dog will be spared from the suffering if you bring it to the vet immediately.
🐶Crying for no reason
If your dog is crying, whining, or whimpering for no apparent reason, it might be experiencing physical pain. The crying could be worse if you try to touch the canine’s body.
At the vet’s clinic, your dog will undergo a physical examination and X-ray to identify any potential injuries.
Is your dog refusing to eat or drink for more than 24 hours? If so, you should bring it to the vet for examination. Poor appetite can point to various conditions like poisoning, bowel obstruction, anxiety, or infection. Only the vet can properly diagnose the condition.
Take note that dogs shouldn’t go without food or water longer than 3 days. While other canines can live without food for more than a week, it’s not humane to leave your pet suffering.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much does taking a dog to the vet cost?
A: The cost of vet visits depend on the procedure your dog needs. For example, if you’re just going for your dog’s routine checkup, it will only cost you around $50 or less. However, if your dog needs an allergy test, it will set you back for up to $300. If you don’t want to be surprised by the vet bill, it’s best to ask the veterinarian about the cost of the procedure first.
Q: What happens if I don’t pay the vet?
A: If you don’t pay the vet, you can still bring your dog home. However, the bill will be placed in collections and you can get sued for not paying accordingly. If you’re financially challenged, you can talk with the vet about payment options instead of running away from your obligations.
Q: Can you take your dog to the vet if you don’t have money?
A: Vet visits always cost money. So if you don’t have the budget for your dog’s procedures, you can ask local pet organizations or local breed clubs for assistance. They usually have financial assistance programs to help pet owners who can’t afford their dogs’ veterinary care.
Q: Do dogs need yearly vaccinations?
A: Many have divided takes on whether dogs need yearly booster shots. Still, it’s up to the vet to decide whatever’s best for your pet. Usually, core vaccines for dogs need booster shots every 1 to 3 years, depending on your pet’s susceptibility to infection.
Q: Is it illegal not to vaccinate your dog?
A: Individual state laws often dictate mandatory vaccinations among canines. For example, in the state of California, only rabies shots are compulsory. It’s best to check with your locality to know which shots your dog should get to avoid legal problems.
How often do you have to take your dog to the vet? The general answer would be once a year, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. You still have to factor in your dog’s age, health condition, and behavior.
If your pet exhibits unusual behavior or symptoms, never shy away from calling the vet. In the long run, seeking immediate veterinary care will save you from bigger vet bills later.