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How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?

You love your dog deeply and do everything you can to help them live a long, happy life. However, you might wonder how often you should take your dog to the vet for a checkup. Our Stockton vets answer this common question.

Preventive Care & Early Detection

At Bear Creek Veterinary Hospital, we much prefer to prevent serious diseases in cats and dogs or detect them early rather than wait for serious symptoms of illness to appear. 

Because dogs age faster than humans, yearly veterinary exams are vital to help them remain healthy and prevent diseases. Early detection and prevention can significantly improve your dog's health and lifespan. 

By bringing your dog in for regular checkups, your vet can monitor their health, identify the first signs of disease (which are more easily treated than late-stage symptoms), and recommend preventive products. 

While you may be concerned about the cost of these checkups, our vets contend that a proactive and preventive approach can save you money on costly treatments in the future. 

Routine Wellness Exams & Checkups for Pets

Think of bringing your dog to the vet for their regular checkup as similar to getting a physical for yourself. The frequency of these routine wellness exams will depend on your dog's age, health, and lifestyle. 

Healthy adult dogs and cats should typically have an annual wellness exam. However, puppies, kittens, senior dogs and cats, and those with underlying health conditions may need to come in for examinations more frequently. 

Puppies Up to 12 Months Old 

Is your dog under one year old? If so, they should come in for a monthly visit. Your puppy will need several vaccinations within their first year to protect them against common infectious diseases, such as hepatitis, distemper, rabies, parainfluenza, and leptospirosis. 

Your vet will recommend timing for vaccinations depending on your dog's current health status and level of risk based on where you live. For example, they may need to see the vet more frequently for Lyme disease testing if you live in an area where ticks are common.  

Our vets recommend spaying or neutering for puppies between 6 and 12 months old. This procedure prevents unwanted litters, unwanted behaviors, and some diseases. 

Adult Dogs Up to 7 Years Old 

Annual wellness exams are recommended for healthy, active adult dogs between one and seven years old. During this exam, your veterinarian will thoroughly assess your pet from head to tail to look for early signs of illness, joint pain, tooth decay, or parasites. 

The vet will also administer any vaccines that may be required, discuss your dog's diet and nutritional needs with you, recommend parasite protection, and address any training or behavioral concerns you might have. 

If your vet notices any signs of potential health issues, they will inform you of their findings and provide recommendations for further action.

Pregnant Dogs 

Most veterinarians will recommend allowing a female dog to have a couple of heat cycles before breeding them. After a few heat cycles, your female pooch will be more physically mature and will likely be able to be a better mother to her pups. 

It's also important to practice responsible breeding, taking costs and the health of the potential mother and her offspring into account before starting. Address any questions or concerns you may have about breeding and your female dog's health with your veterinarian. 

If you suspect your dog is pregnant, arrange a prenatal appointment with your vet, who can provide advice and guidance on how to meet your pregnant dog's nutritional needs and schedule any follow-up visits that may be required. Ultrasounds are typically done at about the four-week mark, with pregnancy lasting about 63 days before a litter is born. 

Senior Dogs

Dogs are typically considered senior or geriatric at around 8 years old, except for giant breeds that age more quickly and may require more frequent preventive care from age 5. Since older dogs are more prone to diseases and injuries, we suggest taking your senior dog to the vet every 6 months, since they may display symptoms of illness or issues that may or may not be obvious to even doting pooch parents. 

These symptoms may include a sudden increase in water consumption, loss of mobility, urinating more frequently, becoming disoriented (even briefly), startling easily, or behaving in other unusual ways that can point to the onset of kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, heart disease, osteoarthritis, or other illness. 

Twice yearly wellness check-ups for senior dogs include all the previous checks and advice and additional diagnostic tests such as blood tests and urinalysis to identify early signs of health conditions listed above. 

As pets age, they may experience age-related issues such as joint pain, so geriatric care involves a proactive approach to keep your pet comfortable.

If you have a senior dog, consult your vet about how often to bring them in for an examination.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is it time for your pet's regular checkup? Contact our vets in Stockton today to book an appointment for your four-legged friend.

New Patients Welcome

New Patients Welcome

Bear Creek Veterinary Hospital is welcoming new patients! Our compassionate vets are experienced in caring for Stockton companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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