Your Dog’s Age
When you purchase or adopt a puppy, schedule a checkup for within a week; if you don’t yet have a veterinarian, Dex can help you find a vet close by. After the initial visit, a canine vaccination schedule will dictate the frequency of checkups. VetInfo includes a basic schedule on its website: Distemper and parvo vaccines at 6, 9 and 12 weeks of age, plus rabies vaccine at 16 weeks. If you plan to take advantage of pet grooming services or pet day care and boarding, most veterinarians will recommend a bordatella vaccination, as well. Your dog also will need checkups related to spaying or neutering.
Once you get through the initial vaccinations and spaying or neutering, most veterinarians will recommend an annual checkup until your dog reaches senior status — age 7 — if no other health conditions exist. The annual visit will include a physical exam and administration of any necessary vaccination boosters, plus a heartworm test. After age 7, most veterinarians recommend a checkup every six months to keep an eye out for any age-related health conditions.
Your Dog’s Health
If other health conditions do exist, the condition itself and your dog’s health will dictate the frequency of checkups. For example, if your dog has a cancerous mass removed and/or undergoes chemotherapy and/or radiation, your canine oncologist will want to see the patient more regularly to check for recurrence. Or if your dog has a skin condition requiring medication and/or a special diet, the dermatologist will want to monitor effectiveness and make adjustments as necessary. The specialist will set the checkup schedule in these instances.
Regular checkups as determined by your veterinarian and specialist will not only keep your dog healthy and contribute to a longer life span, they will help you avoid unnecessary expenses. Serious health conditions cost significantly more when caught later rather than earlier.
Veterinarians also serve as an excellent resource for information about pets and pet supplies in general. In addition to providing insight into your dog’s behavior, your veterinarian can recommend products based on professional experience and feedback from other pet parents.