The Essential Guide to Vet Visits: How Often Should Your Dog See the Vet?

When it comes to ensuring the health and happiness of your furry family member, regular veterinary check-ups are a must. But how often should your dog visit the vet? The team at Neuse River Vets is here to guide you through the recommended schedule for your canine companion’s health appointments, ensuring they live a long, joyful, and healthy life by your side.

The Puppy Phase: Birth to 1 Year

Puppies are bundles of joy and energy, but they also require the most veterinary attention during their first year of life to get a healthy start.

  • 6 to 8 weeks: Your puppy’s first vet visit should occur around this age for a health check, vaccinations, and parasite control. Discuss nutrition, socialization, and training with your vet.
  • 10 to 12 weeks & 14 to 16 weeks: Follow-up visits are crucial for completing their vaccination series and monitoring growth and development.
  • 6 months: If you decide to spay or neuter your puppy, it typically occurs around this age. Your vet can advise on the best timing based on your dog’s breed, size, and health.

The Adult Phase: 1 to 7-10 Years

As your dog moves into adulthood, annual wellness exams are key. These visits help prevent diseases and catch any issues early.

  • Bi-annual check-ups: These exams typically include a health assessment, vaccine boosters, parasite control, and tests for heartworms. It’s also a good time to discuss your dog’s diet, exercise, and any behavioral changes.

The Senior Phase: 7-10 Years and Older

Senior dogs have different care requirements. As dogs age, they may develop age-related conditions that can significantly affect their quality of life.

  • Bi-annual check-ups that include bloodwork: Veterinarians often recommend that senior dogs visit twice a year for health screenings that can detect issues like arthritis, organ dysfunction, or dental disease early. These appointments are critical for managing chronic conditions and adjusting their care plan as needed.

Special Considerations

  • Breed-specific issues: Some breeds are prone to specific health problems. Your vet can provide a tailored health monitoring plan.
  • Lifestyle and health changes: More frequent visits may be necessary if your dog develops health issues, experiences significant lifestyle changes, or if you notice any concerning symptoms.
  • Emergency situations: Immediate vet attention is required if your dog shows signs of severe distress, injury, or illness.

Final Thoughts

Regular veterinary care is crucial for your dog’s long-term health and well-being. At Neuse River Vets, we understand the special bond you share with your pet and are here to support you every step of the way. Remember, maintaining a schedule for regular check-ups, staying vigilant for any changes in behavior or health, and having an open line of communication with your vet are key components of responsible pet ownership. Your dog depends on you for its care and love, and regular vet visits are a vital part of fulfilling that responsibility.

What’s That Smell?

Most pet parents associate canine and feline dentistry with the need to “fix bad breath”. That is one of many components behind why veterinarians recommend annual dentistry. But, bad breath can be more than just smelly and gross.There are many causes of bad breath in your pet. Some may be obvious – that tasty rodent, rear-end sniffs, or delicacy of another animal’s…well, you get the idea.

One of the most common reasons pets have halitosis, or “bad breath”, is due to bacterial buildup leading to the formation of plaque and tartar.Gum inflammation, known as gingivitis, can also be attributed to bad breath, especially once gingivitis progresses. This advancement of the disease is what can cause tooth and bone loss, known as periodontal disease. Just like in human dentistry, the terminology and diseases are similar.

Humans just brush their teeth more frequently to minimize the issues around gingivitis and periodontal disease. The primary cause of the bad breath is attributed to the bacteria that causes the tooth and bone decay. The smell is because the bacteria creates sulfur and that compound can also cause further decay and bone loss.

Dogs’ breed and age can also be a factor contributing to the development of dental disease and bad breath;smaller dogs and certain breeds may be more prone.h. And dogs aren’t alone! Certain cat breeds and exotic felines are also clinically known for having issues with halitosis.

But, did you know there are other reasons pets can have bad breath? Gastrointestinal issues, diabetes, oral tumors, respiratory infections – all of these other disease states can also contribute to bad breath issues. If you recall from our earlier blog, that is why this annual dental cleaning is more than just professional cleaning. The COHAT (comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment) helps us to ensure that your pet’s oral health is properly assessed and addressed to rule out additional periodontal health concerns.

As you schedule your pet’s annual preventive exams, please remember to schedule your pet’s annual dental exam and procedure. Our goal is to have the best health outcomes to ensure your pet has as many happy, healthy years as possible.
Dr. Karina Ballester, DVM, MPH