Dogs famously dislike trips to the vet, and if we’re honest, it’s not typically a favorite human pastime, either. But you know vet visits are important for your dog’s health. The question is, how often should I take my dog to the vet?
Should I take my dog to the vet?
Of course you know to take your dog to the vet when they are injured or acutely ill and need professional care. Things like bleeding, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing blood, a broken nail, a broken tail, and so forth are clearly situations where a trip to the vet (or the ER) is in order.
But there are other, more subtle signs that call for a vet visit, including:
-Pacing, restlessness, and anxiety
-Seizures or tremors
-Changes in mood and behavior
-Changes in eating and drinking habits
-Changes in potty habits
-Unusual skin patches
-Lumps and bumps
-Panting more than normal
-Reduced mobility or coordination
-Dragging back legs
-Limping or not putting weight on a paw
-Abdominal bloat (this could be a sign of gastric torsion, a medical emergency – get to a veterinary ER)
In short, any changes to your dog’s normal routines, mood, and physical well-being warrant a visit to your vet.
Wellness veterinary visits for dogs: What to expect
An annual check-up with your dog’s vet is smart. Your vet will perform a physical examination, give shots if necessary, and ask you questions about your dog’s health, habits, and lifestyle. You have the opportunity to ask questions or raise any concerns you have.
Why go to the effort and expense of a visit to the vet when your dog is perfectly healthy? In addition to getting their shots, one main reason is that your vet may notice changes in your dog over time, such as increase or decrease in weight or mobility that you’re unaware of because you see your dog every day. Signs like this could indicate more serious problems that your vet can help diagnose and treat.
Wellness veterinary visits for puppies: What to expect
If you’re wondering when to take your puppy to the vet, the answer is right away! You can schedule your puppy’s first visit as soon as they come home with you at 6 to 8 weeks.
A puppy wellness visit is similar to that of a dog’s, with a physical examination, vaccines, questions from your vet, and your chance to ask questions. The big difference is that there will be many more shots over the first few months – typically three to four sets of vaccines by the age of 16 weeks.
If in Doubt, Visit the Vet
You know your dog best. If something seems “off,” schedule a trip to the vet, or at the very least give the office a call to ask for advice. In the meantime, keep scheduling those yearly wellness visits for your dog. Remember, it’s your job to help keep your furbaby healthy!