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Health & Wellness

How often should I take my dog to the vet?

Don’t be surprised if your veterinarian asks to see your pup even if they seem healthy.

Bringing a dog home begins an exciting life chapter. And while they’re adjusting to their new space (aka sniffing every nook and corner of your house), take that time to start making a pup-specific to-do list. 

Scheduling your dog’s first vet visit should be at the top of your checklist. But you’ll want to bring your calendar with you to their initial appointment because you’ll likely be scheduling several follow-up visits to help manage your pup’s current and future health. 

Here’s why these regular visits are so important for your dog. 

When should I take my dog to the vet?

If you’re a puppy parent, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, recommends taking your pup to the vet as soon as you welcome them home for a general checkup. After that, you’ll want to schedule their first puppy visit when they’re between 2 to 4 months old. 

“They’ll need to go back to the vet every 3 to 4 weeks until they’ve completed their puppy vaccination series, for their spay or neuter surgery and then yearly thereafter for wellness visits,” Dr. McCullough shares. 

Even if your dog is healthy, regular wellness visits, where vets perform a physical exam, blood work, disease and fecal testing and necessary vaccinations, are crucial to preventing future illnesses and detecting any current issues. 

However, as your dog grows up, there’ll be milestone appointments (in addition to regular yearly checkups), like when they’re 6 months and 1 year old. When they’re a senior dog — usually around 7 years old — your veterinarian might ask to see them twice a year. 

RELATED: Is your vet Fear Free certified? Here’s why it’s important

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What’s the risk of missing annual wellness checkups?

If you can’t make it to your scheduled yearly vet appointment, you’ll want to reschedule for the closest available time. Skipping your pup’s wellness examinations risks missing a new diagnosis or current health conditions worsening (they'll also become harder and more expensive to treat the longer you wait), Dr. McCullough says. 

“You also miss out on developing a relationship with your veterinarian,” she adds. “A lacking relationship can make pet parents feel uneasy and uncertain when making decisions about their sick dog at an already stressful time.”

The better your vet knows your pet’s personality, lifestyle and health, the better they’re able to spot changes in their wellness and get ahead of possible health issues — plus, you’ll trust their judgment more when it comes to diagnosing and treating any issues. 

Cultivating a strong relationship with your veterinarian isn’t easy without attending your yearly vet visits. So even if your pup seems healthy, you’ll want to follow your vet’s recommendations for upcoming appointments. 

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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