We know that you love your pet and want them to have the best chance at a long and happy life, which is why regular veterinary checkups and preventive care are important. But exactly how often should you take your dog or cat to the vet? Our White House vets explain.
Preventive Veterinary Care
Focusing on disease prevention and early detection can help your pet to stay healthier longer.
Taking your dog or cat to the vet on a regular basis provides your vet with the opportunity to monitor your pet's overall health, look for the earliest signs of disease (when conditions are most easily treated), and offer recommendations on the best preventive products for your four-legged friend.
Although some pet parents may be wary due to the potential cost of bringing your dog or cat in for a routine checkup when they seem healthy, but taking a proactive, preventive approach to your pet's care could save you the cost of expensive treatments down the road.
Routine Wellness Exams For Pets
Taking your pet to the vet for a routine exam is similar to your furry friend going to have a physical checkup. As with people, how often your pet should have a physical depends upon your pet's lifestyle, overall health, and age.
Annual wellness exams are typically recommended for healthy adult dogs, but puppies and kittens, senior pets, and animals with underlying health conditions benefit from more frequent examinations.
Puppies & Kittens (1-12 Months Old)
If your pet is under a year old, then it is recommended that they be taken to the vet monthly.
During your puppy or kitten's first year of life, they will need several rounds of vaccinations to help keep them protected against common infectious diseases. Recommended vaccines for puppies include distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvo, corona, rabies, and leptospirosis. Kittens should receive their FVRCP vaccine which helps to protect your feline friend against 3 highly contagious and life-threatening feline diseases, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FHV-1) Feline Calicivirus (FCV), and Feline Panleukopenia (FPL).
Your young pet will receive these vaccines over the course of about 16 weeks and will go a long way towards keeping your puppy or kitten healthy.
The exact timing of your pet's vaccinations will vary depending on your location and your furry friend's overall health.
Between 6 - 12 months our vets recommend having your puppy or kitten spayed or neutered in order to prevent a host of diseases and undesirable behaviors as well as unwanted litters.
If you have a healthy, active adult dog (1-7 years old) or cat (1-10 years old) between 1 - 7 years old, yearly routine exams are recommended. These examinations are annual physical checkups that are done while your pet seems completely healthy.
During your adult pet's routine exam your vet will perform a head-to-tail examination of your pet to look for early signs of illness or other issues, such as tooth decay, joint pain or parasites.
Your veterinarian will also discuss your pet's diet and nutritional needs with you, in addition to administering any required vaccines, recommending appropriate parasite protection and going over any training or behavioral issues you've made note of.
If your vet detects any signs of developing health issues they will discuss their findings with you and recommend next steps.
Senior Dogs & Cats
Dogs are typically considered senior or geriatric when they are about 8 years old, except in the case of giant breeds. These dogs such as Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Mastiffs and Saint Bernards age more quickly than other breeds and will require more frequent preventive care earlier, normally starting around 5 years of age.
Cats are considered to be senior when they reach 11 years of age.
As many diseases and injuries in animals tend to become more common as pets get older, we recommend taking your senior dog or cat to the vet every 6 months. Twice-yearly wellness check-ups for your senior pet will include all of the checks and advice mentioned above, but with additional diagnostic testing in order to provide extra insight into your pet's overall health.
Some diagnostic tests we recommend for our senior patients include blood tests and urinalysis to check for early signs of problems such as kidney disease or diabetes.
Geriatric care for pets also takes an even more proactive approach to keeping your dog or cat comfortable as they get older, as many senior pets experience age-related issues such as joint pain. If you have a senior pet, ask your vet how often you should bring your pet in for a routine exam.
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.