How often should I take my dog to the vet? And how to know if your pet needs a checkup

·3 min read

As a pet owner, you always want to make sure your furry best friend is healthy. A trip to the veterinarian is often the go-to for when your dog is feeling sick.

Before you know it, it is time to schedule the next checkup. But how often should you take your dog to the vet?

A major part of being a pet owner is making sure they are in the best health they can be. Just like humans, dogs should be making trips to the vet on more occasions than when they are ill.

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How often should I take my dog to the vet?

Much like other aspects of pet care, how often you should bring your dog to the veterinarian depends on age and breed.

Puppies should be brought in for vaccines every three to four weeks until they are 16 weeks old, according to PetMD. During these visits, your pup will get vaccinated for diseases, such as rabies and kennel cough.

Once your dog reaches six months, it will be time to start thinking about spaying or neutering, says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

As your dog gets older, veterinarian visits will become a yearly occurrence. At these visits, your pet will get a general physical and have blood work done. They will also receive boosters and other vaccines, according to PetMD.

Veterinarians recommend bringing your dog in twice a year after they turn seven to 10 years old, says PetMD. Along with vaccinations and physical exams, veterinarians will also give blood and urine tests to check on your pet's kidney and liver health, thyroid hormone levels, among others, according to PetMD.

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What does the vet check during a physical examination?

During a physical examination, the vet will check various aspects of your dogs health, such as how much they weigh, how they stand and walk, the condition of their coat, skin and eyes, among other things, says VCA Animal Hospitals.

The veterinarian also will look at your dog's teeth and mouth for tartar buildup, as well as checking the heart, lungs and lymph nodes for any irregularities, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.

Vets may also ask for feces samples from your dog to check for intestinal parasites or eggs.

Your dog's checkup is not too different than yours. The vet will ensure all areas of your pet's health are in good shape.

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Which vaccines do dogs need every year?

Regular vaccines can protect your dog from getting serious diseases, some of which can be deadly.

For adult dogs, the following vaccines are seen as "core" for most dogs, according to Essentials PetCare, and some may not necessarily be given every year. Other shots might be required if you board your dog or take it to doggy daycare.

  • Rabies

  • Distemper

  • Canine hepatitis

  • Canine parvovirus

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How often should you take your dog to the vet? Understanding wellness checkups.