How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?

Taking your dog to the vet is vital for the sound physical health of your pet. Routine vet visits help in the early diagnosis of the disease, thus leading to early treatment. So, they improve the quality of life of your dog and help him live longer. The answer to a common question, "how often should I take my dog to the vet?" depends on the dog's age, breed, and health status. Younger and older dogs have a weaker immune system and are more likely to suffer from diseases, so they require a visit to the vet more frequently than middle-aged dogs. Let's take a detailed look at the different age groups of dogs and how often taken to the vet.

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How Often Should You Take the Dog to the Vet?

Up to One Year of Age

Puppies have weak immunity, require frequent visits to the vet. The veterinarian will check for any congenital disabilities in your puppy in the first visit. They are susceptible to various diseases and disorders. Deadly diseases such as canine distemper and parvovirus are more likely to attack young pups, so they must be vaccinated at a young age. You'd need to take your dog to the vet every 3, 4 weeks for vaccination shots against different diseases. Vaccination against the most commonly prevalent diseases will complete around 16 weeks of age.

Apart from vaccine shots, your vet can prescribe flea and tick prevention medications for your dog. Your vet will check if your dog is growing well without any illness during routine checkups. If your dog is having behavioral problems, mental health is also assessed. Your vet can advise different measures if the puppy is facing issues in socializing and training. After your puppy is done with vaccine shots, he will have to be spayed at the age of 6 months if you don't intend to use him for breeding purposes. In short, puppies require frequent visits to the vet than dogs from any other age group.

Up to One Year to 8 Years of Age

Dogs between the ages of 1- 8 years are called adult dogs with the most potent immunity against disease pathogens and require an annual visit to the vet. An annual booster shot is given in the routine visit. Some diseases need a yearly booster shot after the first vaccine shot. A blood sample may show the presence of blood parasites. They are also helpful in assessing the working of organs like the liver and kidneys. Additional tests and radiographs may be required if your vet observes any abnormality.

Dogs Aged Above Eight Years of Age

Dogs aged above eight years of age are called senior dogs. They require the most care and precaution. They have a weakened immune system, so they are likely to fall ill quickly. Cancer, arthritis, heart problems, etc., are prevalent in senior dogs. Senior dogs should be taken to the vet at least twice a year. An external examination should be performed along with blood tests.

When the dog is old, you should keep an eye on his diet and water intake. Lack of interest in once enjoyable activities and lethargy can be signs of underlying disorders. These changes should be reported to the veterinarian in checkups to correlate history with the physical examination. This helps in reaching a better diagnosis. You can also ask your veterinarian for specific diets according to your dog's unique needs.

Vaccination Schedule

Now that we have discussed the question, "how often should I take my dog to the vet?" let's take a look at the vaccination schedule of dogs. Your dog can suffer from countless diseases. Some of them are more deadly than others and can result in the death of your lovely pet. We can protect dogs against some of these diseases through vaccination.

Most vaccines are given at the age of 6-8 weeks, and then an annual booster shot is needed. Vaccine shots show a much-needed protective shield against these diseases. Sometimes a vaccine can be a lifesaving shot. For instance, Rabies is a disease having 100% mortality, and there's no treatment once a dog shows symptoms. A timely vaccine will save your dog from Rabies.

Let's take a look at some of the most critical vaccine injections that your dog should have.

  • Rabies: Prevention is the only option against rabies as there is no treatment for this disease. The first shot against rabies generally at the age of 3 months. An annual booster shot for the rest of life.
  • Canine distemper: Canine distemper is one of the deadliest diseases of dogs, cause permanent brain damage or even death in some dogs. Puppies are given three doses between the ages of 6-16 weeks initially. A booster shot after the first year, and then an shot is given every three or more years for the rest of the life.
  • Canine parvovirus: Prevention is better than cure, so vaccination is the best guard against canine parvovirus. Puppies are given three shots between the ages of 6-16 weeks against parvovirus. The first booster shot is given after one year, and then the booster shot can be given after every three or more years.
  • Infectious canine hepatitis: Canine hepatitis is caused by Adenovirus type 1. It can cause severe damage to the liver and can be fatal in extreme cases. It is transmitted through saliva, feces, and urine. The route of vaccination is unique for canine hepatitis as it is administered through the intranasal route. A booster shot is given annually against infectious canine hepatitis.

The vaccines mentioned above are necessary for all dogs. Some vaccines are subject to recommendation from your veterinarian according to your dog's lifestyle and needs. These vaccinations include Leptospirosis, Canine Influenza, Parainfluenza, Lyme disease, etc.

Is It Wrong Not to Take Your Dog to the Vet?

Yes, it is terrible not to take your dog to the vet. A visit to the vet can save the life of your dog. Routine visits to your vet help diagnose the problem in the early stages and start the treatment. This increases the chances of recovery manifolds. For example, if you don't take your dog to the vet for examination, cancer may become untreatable even without showing any signs. A visit to the vet keeps your dog up to date on his vaccination shots. If you don't take your dog to the vet, he may suffer from diseases that would have been prevented otherwise.

How Much is the Average Vet Bill in the US?

Owning a pet and then fulfilling the responsibility of provision of healthcare comes with much financial commitment. The average bill of a visit to the vet depends on the health status of the dog and the treatment needed.Vet bill costs higher if you have a young dog who needs frequent visits for vaccine shots. Checkups by the vet to assess any abnormality and average growth performance can cost about 150-200$.

The average vet bill is the least in the case of adult dogs. They are less likely to fall ill and need routine shots and preventive medication against ticks and fleas.
The vet bill is the highest in senior dogs. They need to be taken to the vet twice a year for checkups. They fall ill more often than adult dogs. Treatment of cardiovascular disorders, cancers, and other diseases is costly.

On average, the vet bill is around 50 to 400 dollars depending on the vaccine shots or the surgery needed. If you want to get your dog spayed or neutered, it may cost you an additional 200$. According to American Kennel Club, the average cost of vaccinations is 60-70$, and the shot against rabies costs an additional 15-20$. Some of these vaccines need booster shots annually, while others need booster shots after three years. Pills against ticks and fleas can cost up to 200$ annually. The cost of defensive medicine against heartworms is around 150$. If your dog has heartworms and you want to get it treated, it's pretty expensive and starts from 400$.

Emergency visits to the vet due to accidents or sudden illness can be very costly. In case of a disease or accident, blood tests and X-rays may be required. In severe cases, hospitalization may be needed. All of these things contribute to the vet bill.

Can I Check My Dog at Home?

Many veterinary healthcare service providers can send a vet to visit your pet at home upon your request. This may add a bit to the bill, but it's a blessing for pets who get anxious during traveling or cannot travel due to disease conditions. Getting your dog checked at home saves him from exposure to viral and bacterial pathogens.

Final Thoughts

The exact answer to the question "how often should I take my dog to the vet?" depends on the dog's age and health condition. Puppies and senior dogs require more frequent visits. Accidents and illnesses would need you to take your dog to the vet apart from the regular checkups. The average vet bill depends on the condition of the dog and the treatment required. You can get a vet to come to your home and have your dog checked.

We hope this article equips you with the necessary know-how to best care for your dog. Thanks, Raza, a Veterinarian talk about it with us. Got any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments down below.


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