How Often Should Your Dog Have an Exam?

The most important thing you can do for your four-legged best friend is make sure that they live a healthy and happy life. In addition to ensuring they have plenty of exercise, are eating a healthy diet, and have lots of affection, you’ll also want to keep them on a regular schedule with their veterinarian. While many people just rely on their vet to give them an update of when and why to bring their pup in for their next visit, very few understand the reasoning behind the frequency. 

What the AVMA recommends


According to the AMVA canine preventative healthcare guidelines, all dogs should have a veterinary examination at least annually. While this rule seems to be the general rule of thumb for all dogs, the AVMA goes on to say that for many dogs, more frequent visits may be appropriate, and the frequency of visits should be based on individual needs of the dog. Essentially, the recommendation is very similar to that of a grown adult, dogs should attend regular wellness exams and if you detect a problem, you should consult a veterinarian.  


Why are regular wellness checks so important?


For many, it may feel natural to judge how their dog is doing simply by their temperament and general weight and attitude. While it’s a good sign if your pup looks healthy and is generally very active and playful, it’s important to consult the experts who are trained to check and make sure that your pup has a clean bill of health. If you bring your dog to regular wellness exams, the chances of detecting any potential problem in its early stages are much higher and therefore the treatment will likely be less expensive and less difficult. 


What happens during wellness exams?


Wellness exams are great times for veterinarians to assess the health of your pup by evaluating different aspects including their weight, teeth, stool, temperament, and body type. These appointments often also include preventative care like vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and routine deworming which can help prevent diseases that are not only life-threatening but can be very expensive to treat.


Your veterinarian can also help by recommending a wellness program based on your specific dog. They will consider your pups breed, age, lifestyle, and overall health when making their recommendations. This customized plan can include recommendations for medication and preventative care, therapeutic plans, and a follow-up. 


When does my dog need more than an annual visit?


While annual visits are great for dogs in the healthiest stages of their lives, those that are more vulnerable like puppies and senior dogs might need more frequent visits. As a puppy, it’s recommended for your dog to have monthly wellness exams until their 16 weeks old. It’s during this time that your pup will get their most important vaccinations for diseases like rabies, distemper, parainfluenza, and more. After this 16-week window, the next visit is most often around six months when it’s time for them to be spayed or neutered and then after a checkup to ensure the procedure went smoothly, they move into a more regular annual schedule.


For senior dogs, it is often recommended that they visit their veterinarian semi-annually (every 6 months). More frequent changes can help catch things more quickly and can give your vet more time to treat any issues they notice as they arise.


When to visit your vet quickly


In addition to maintaining a steady cadence of vet visits, it’s also important to understand when to seek out help immediately. If your dog shows any alarming signs, has been in an accident, or is clearly in discomfort, trust your instincts and get to the ER right away. The quicker you get the help of professionals who are trained in handling emergencies for animals, the better off you and your pup will be. 


Since every dog is different, it’s important for you to consult a veterinarian like those at the Bregman Veterinary Group to help you determine the best wellness plan for your pup.  To schedule an appointment, click here to get started!

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