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Vet Care Changes As Your Pet Grows: Are You Getting the Right Care?

When Your Pet Should Visit The Vet

By Meredith Alling. March 19, 2014 | See Comments

Beagle getting ear checked

From the time your bring your puppy or kitten home, to the time they have reached their senior years, veterinary care will always be required. How much and when all depends on which life stage your pet is in as well as any health problems. Learn more here about how to care for your pet as they age.

What happens during a veterinary visit, and the frequency in which they should be scheduled, will vary depending on your pet’s age. Young pets, adult pets, and senior pets all have different needs, and as a pet parent it is important to be aware of what type of veterinary care is appropriate for your pet’s life stage.

Here we will discuss veterinary care for your pet as they move through the different phases of life.

Veterinary Care for Puppies and Kittens

Puppies and kittens are delicate creatures, and as such they have special veterinary needs. After bringing your puppy or kitten home for the first time, you need to visit your veterinarian for a physical exam, a fecal exam, and to begin vaccinations (if your pet is at least 6 to 8 weeks old).

Vaccinations are one of the most important parts of your puppy or kitten’s veterinary care. Puppies receive four core vaccines -- canine distemper, canine parvovirus, canine hepatitis, and rabies. Kittens also receive four core vaccines -- feline distemper, feline calci virus, feline herpes type 1, and rabies. For both puppies and kittens, additional non-core vaccines are available for pets living in certain geographic locations, or in conditions that put them at risk for disease.

Most vaccinations require several doses, so you will have to visit your veterinarian multiple times over the course of several weeks to finish the shots. The majority of puppies and kittens are finished with their vaccination shots by the age of 4 months.

In the first year of your pet’s life, many veterinarians recommend a check-up at 6 months of age, and this is also the time when many pets are spayed or neutered.

Veterinary Care for Adult Pets

Adult pets should visit the veterinarian at least once a year to prevent and detect any medical problems. At their annual exam, your pet will have a physical examination, undergo important health tests, and receive vaccination boosters.

Keeping up to date with your adult pet’s annual exams is not only important for their overall health -- these visits can also save you money by identifying problems before they become expensive to treat.

Veterinary Care for Senior Pets

Most veterinarians recommend that senior pets check in with them every 6 months. Older pets need to see the vet more often because with old age comes greater risk of disease and injury.

One new thing senior pets typically undergo at their bi-annual visits is a geriatric screening. A geriatric screening is a more comprehensive exam that can include complete blood work, biochemistry, x-rays, and more. Your veterinarian will decide what kind of testing is right for your pet.

Regardless of your pet’s age, you should always contact your veterinarian if you notice any signs of illness or injury.

More on Pet Health

The 2013 Healthonomics Report: Survey Results
PetCareRx Tools - Pet Parenthood, Made Easy
Everything Pet Services - Guide To Finding Quality Pet Assistance

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Vet Care at a glance

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  • 1Pets have different veterinary needs depending on their life stage
  • 2Puppies and kittens need to see the vet often for vaccinations
  • 3Adult pets should see the veterinarian at least once a year
  • 4Senior pets should see the veterinarian at least every six months