How Often Your Dog or Cat Should Have a Vet Checkup
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Once every 6 months? Once a year? New pet owners are often unsure about how frequently their pets should visit the vet.
The answer isn’t one-size-fits-all – each pet will have a different schedule of vet visits over the span of their lifetime. Young puppies and kittens will need to visit the vet much more often than a healthy adult dog or cat, and senior pets may return for more frequent checkups to prevent aging-related health problems. Whether you’re wondering “How often should my dog go to the vet” or “Is it time for another cat checkup?”, read on to learn all about veterinarian visits for your pet.
Vet Visits for Dogs
How Often Should Your Puppy Go to The Vet?
Very young puppies will visit the vet quite often in their earliest weeks. If you bring home a puppy younger than 16 weeks, expect your puppy vet schedule to include visits every three to four weeks so they can receive the necessary vaccinations for life-threatening diseases, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.
During each visit, the veterinarian will give your pup a full physical examination. As part of giving your pet a head start on a healthy life, you’ll also want to make sure they have reliable identification, such as a physical pet ID tag and a microchip. Once your puppy is microchipped, you’ll need to register it with your current contact information as soon as possible, so you can be reached if you are ever separated from them. Microchipping your puppy is the only permanent and reliable way to accurately identify them. Keeping the contact information that’s registered to their microchip up-to-date ensures the best chance of being reunited with your pet, if they’re ever lost or stolen.
Following the completion of puppy vaccines, you won’t have to bring your dog to the vet as often. You will likely not have another dog checkup until they are around 6 months old, when you may choose to spay or neuter your pet.
How Often Should a Dog Go to The Vet as an Adult?
Once they’ve turned a year old, most healthy adult dogs will have a wellness exam annually throughout their adulthood, where the vet will perform a physical exam, including checking their weight and asking about their exercise routine. If you’re struggling to find the time to get your dog out for regular exercise, the 24Petwatch Lifetime Protection Membership comes with a $30 Rover discount, so you can save on dog walking (and pet sitting) services.
For occasions between scheduled vet visits, when you have questions about your dog’s behavior, diet, or new symptoms, the 24Petwatch Lifetime Protection Membership comes with access to a 24/7 Vet Helpline. You’ll be able to access licensed veterinary professionals anytime by phone, email, or live chat and receive expert advice on how to best care for your pet.
This service can even help you determine if a vet or emergency visit is warranted, saving you time, money, and stress. It’s important to note though, that you should take your dog to an emergency vet immediately if they seem extremely unwell or are exhibiting dangerous symptoms, including but not limited to:
- Extreme lethargy or collapse
- Prolonged vomiting or retching
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty urinating
Be sure to listen to your pet-parent instincts – if you think your pet may need medical care after hours, head to an emergency vet right away.
How Often Should a Senior Dog Visit the Vet?
Depending on the breed of your dog, they will typically fall into the “senior” category between 7- 12 years old. At this point, your dog should visit the vet more frequently, as they are more likely to develop heart, kidney and liver disease, cancer, or arthritis in their old age, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). For many illnesses, early detection means better treatment options, increased comfort, and improved quality of life.
Along with these important medical visits, and throughout the duration of your dog’s life, it’s crucial to ensure the contact information registered to your dog’s microchip is always up to date. If you ever move, or change your phone number, log in to your MyPetHealth Portal to update your contact details, so you can be reached if your dog were to ever get lost or stolen.
Vet Visits for Cats
How Frequently Should a Kitten Visit the Vet?
Kittens need important vaccines to keep them healthy, so if you adopt or buy a young kitten, expect to take them to the vet every 3-4 weeks, until they are 16-20 weeks old, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. At these vaccine appointments, your vet will also perform a wellness exam to set the stage for a lifetime of good feline health.
Once your cat is fully vaccinated, you will likely not need to visit the vet for a while – until they are neutered or spayed. For cats, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends this before your kitten reaches five months of age, but you can determine with your veterinarian what is best for your pet’s unique needs.
Remember all pets, especially cats that are allowed to roam outside freely, should be microchipped – and owners should be sure to register the microchip with their current contact information right away.
How Often Should You Take Your Cat to The Vet as an Adult?
There is a misconception that cats are independent and low maintenance, even when it comes to their medical care. While this may be partially true in some respects, once your cat has reached adulthood (after 18 months), they should still visit the vet at least annually, and sometimes more depending on their health needs, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
How Often Should a Senior Cat Visit the Vet?
Senior cats are more likely to develop diseases that can affect their quality of life, including arthritis, dental disease, kidney disease, and cancer. For this reason, it is recommended that your senior cat have a checkup at least twice a year to keep an eye on their well-being and detect and treat any serious health issues early.
Vet visits require time and money – but unmanaged health problems are much more expensive and stressful, and can negatively impact the quality and longevity of a pet’s life. For these reasons, keeping up with a recommended vet schedule for your pet is essential. For added care and support for the life of your pet, including 24/7 access to a Vet Helpline, $30 discount on dog walking and pet sitting services with Rover.com, a $25 Petco coupon (for all your pet essentials), and access to Lost Pet Recovery Specialists who are available 24/7/365, purchase a 24Petwatch Lifetime Protection Membership today!