All dogs need regular veterinary care. The frequency with which you should schedule visits to the vet depends on your dog’s age and health.
First Puppy Visit
When you get a puppy from a breeder or a rescue organization, he may be up-to-date with shots and may be spayed or neutered. However, you still want to take your new puppy to your veterinarian for the first time within a few days after he comes home. This gives the vet the opportunity to examine him, determine a schedule for upcoming vaccinations and begin a record of his care. He may also take blood tests and complete a fecal exam.
Other Puppy Vet Visits
After the first vet visit, your vet will recommend a schedule of vaccinations for your puppy. You will need to bring your puppy to the vet’s office for each booster shot.
Additionally, once your puppy reaches 6 months of age, you will likely want to have him neutered or her spayed. This involves surgery and often an overnight stay at the vet’s office, and possibly a followup visit.
All healthy dogs should visit the vet at least once a year, and twice a year is advisable. Older dogs may need to see a vet every six months or more frequently. This gives the vet the opportunity to examine your dog and ensure that the dog is healthy. The vet will complete a physical examination, take your dog’s temperature, listen to his heart and look at his teeth, among other things. Your vet may also take tests such as heartworm tests before prescribing preventive medicines. If you dog needs any booster shots, such as rabies or distemper, your vet will give them during the annual visit.
Illness and Emergency
Before selecting a vet, ask about emergency services. Some vet offices offer on-site care 24 four hours a day, seven days a week. Other veterinarians outsource after-hours emergency care to another local vet or animal hospital. Unfortunately, there may be times when your dog is ill and needs care in between routine visits. Always call before bringing your dog to the vet, even if you have an emergency. Program your veterinarian's and the emergency veterinarian's phone numbers in your phones.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Francine Richards is a licensed multi-state insurance agent with years of human resources and insurance industry experience. Her work has appeared on Blue Cross Blue Shield websites and newsletters, the Houston Chronicle and The Nest. Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland.