How Often Does Your Dog Need to go to the Vet?
One often overlooked aspect of being a responsible and caring pet owner is trips to the veterinarian. Usually, we take our dogs to the vet when we first get them to make sure they are up to date on shots. Then, for many people, their dog doesn’t see the inside of a doctor’s office again unless there is something noticeably wrong with them. There are really two issues at play here. The first is understanding that a dog, just like a person, should see a doctor regularly to make sure they stay in good health. The second, is realizing that veterinary care does not have to be as inconvenient and expensive as you may believe, especially for service dogs.
Once you’ve accepted these two truths, you’ll have to consider your own personal pet’s age and history. If you have a puppy, visiting the vet for vaccinations is hugely important. A responsible owner will bring in their little friend every few weeks until they are about 4 months old. This is because all the vaccines can’t be given at once. It’s also during this first year that you’ll most likely have your dog spayed or neutered. Unless you are a licensed breeder, we strongly recommend doing this and, in many cases, it may be the law. As we’ve mentioned in other posts, dogs are creatures of habit. By taking your pet to the doctor regularly as a puppy, he/she will be more accustomed to it and it won’t be nearly as stressful an experience as it can be made out to be.
After the first year of a dog’s life, things should settle down a bit, but you’ll still want to make regular visits. Dogs are considered to be non-senior adults between one and seven-to-ten years, depending on the breed. While they are most healthy during this time, an annual checkup is still considered routine. At this point, you should check with your regular vet and see if they offer any wellness packages or insurance plans. There are usually many options to keep your dog’s health costs down. If you don’t have a regular vet, now is the time to do some research and find one that is convenient and reliable.
Your vet will check for parasites, make sure they’re eating well and generally in good health. It’s important to remember that while your dog might seem like he/she is happy and in good health, you alone can’t always tell if something is bothering them. After all, the last time we checked dogs still can’t talk!
If your dog is considered a senior, he/she is usually at least seven, or sometimes a bit older. Most vets will suggest twice yearly visits just to stay on top all the challenges that come with older age. Some symptoms, such as low excitement for a daily walk can be confused for the pet simply being old or tired. However, older dogs can still have a lot of energy! A lot of the time, low energy can be a result of more complex issues that can be treated if you know what you’re looking for.
Of course, every breed is unique. And every individual dog is unique – that’s why we love them so much. Be sure to learn as much as you can about your breed of dog because some will need more care than others or have particular “trouble areas” that you’ll want to pay close attention to. At the end of the day, no one will know your companion as well as you do so pay attention to changes in mood or behavior. You are your dog’s best advocate and they rely on you to keep them happy and healthy.