Your veterinarian plays an essential role in your dog's life -- they help when your dog is sick or injured and can provide preventative care through routine check-ups and health recommendations. But how often should you be taking your dog to the vet?
In short, it depends. Some dogs will see the vet only when their routine physical exam rolls around, while others may end up at the vet's office more often to treat health conditions.
Let's look at when to take your dog to the vet.
Every dog needs to visit the veterinarian regularly to have a physical examination, receive vaccination boosters, and undergo specific health tests. These check-ups are essential in maintaining your dog's overall health. They are also an opportunity for your veterinarian to identify any health problems before they become severe or expensive to treat.
How often your dog needs to visit the veterinarian for a check-up will vary depending on their age and pre-existing health conditions. In general, though, you should adhere to these schedules:
- Dogs under ten years of age: at least one physical examination per year
- Dogs 10 years of age and older: at least one physical examination every six months
Older dogs need to go to the vet more often than younger dogs because they are at higher risk for disease and injury and also need the ideal portion of dog vitamins. At their bi-annual check-ups, senior dogs undergo a geriatric screening, a comprehensive exam that typically includes complete blood work and chemistry, urinalysis, x-rays, and more.
Even if you stay up to date with your dog's routine vet visits, there is still a chance that your four-legged friend could get sick or injured. And while some symptoms, such as an isolated incident of vomiting, may not be immediate cause for concern, other symptoms are warning signs that something more serious could be going on, and it's time to see the veterinarian for treatment. Regular scratching and itching are also signs that you should see a vet. These could be due to fleas and ticks on your dog. An early visit will ensure that your dog gets flea and tick medicine on time.
Symptoms that you should never ignore include:
The Pet Parent's Responsibility
There is no excuse for slacking on taking your dog to the vet, whether for a routine visit or to get a symptom checked out. However, if you are ever in doubt about whether a trip to the vet's office is appropriate, give them a call. Most veterinarians and vet techs will be happy to advise you over the phone and let you know if a visit to the office is in order. They can also prescribe pet meds online if required. Your pup depends on you -- don't let them down!
Preparing Your Dog for a Vet Visit
The prospect of a visit to the vet clinic can make your dog anxious, scared, and even aggressive. It is possible to condition them to feel optimistic about their vet check-ups if you successfully make their first-ever visit to the vet a relaxing experience. A dog who hasn't had a negative experience their first time to the vet is unlikely to feel anxious about revisiting. Keep in mind that dogs are uncomfortable with having their feet, nails, tail, and belly touched and moved around. So please find the time when they are calm and at ease to take them for their veterinary appointment. If your dog is of aggressive nature, ensure that you put on a dog muzzle to avoid any hesitations in check-ups by your vet. Also, be prepared to have a leash on your dog, so as to keep him as close to you as possible.
Tips That Will Make Your Vet Visit Easier
These are some ways in which you can make your and your dog's visit to the vet's office much less painful –
- Find a good vet: It is crucial to find a vet sensitive to your dog's needs. In addition, the vet and staff at the clinic should be experienced in handling nervous and restless dogs. For general consultation, you can also consult an online vet without having to take your pet physically to a clinic if they have no issues.
- Don't be anxious: If you're anxious about taking your dog to the vet, your pet will pick up on your anxiety and feel anxious too. So pretend if you have to but cloak your anxiety if it's impossible to calm yourself down.
- Give your dog a massage: Accustom your dog to a massage that soothes his nerves. Practice this at home, and then try it at the vet's clinic before going in for the check-up. Your dog should be much more relaxed. Use a dog brush to gently massage their coat.
- Add incentives: If you're taking the dog to a vet, follow the vet visit with a pleasurable activity. So maybe give him a dog treat, walk him in the park or take him for a swim. If they know that the visit to the vet will be followed by an activity they like, they will be less anxious at the vet.
- Try aromatherapy: Dogs tend to think with their noses. So use the calming scent of lavender and other stress-relieving scents to relax your dog before a trip to the vet's office. Spray it in the car or light a candle at home before taking your dog to the vet.
- Provide him with his favorite treats: An excellent way to distract an anxious dog is to feed him his favorite dog treats. He will be too occupied with the treats at hand to worry about the vet check-up. After all, he is a dog; you can't expect him to multitask.
- Feed him properly: Ensure that you feed your pet his favorite dog food before visiting a vet. Hunger can add to the aggressiveness and anxiety in dogs. However, with a full stomach, they will be more relaxed and calm at the vet’s clinic.
So, follow this handful of steps before your vet visit, and you and your dog should be fine. Remember, an occasional visit to the vet is essential for your dog's health and should be skipped at no cost.
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