You care about your pet and want to give them the best chance of living a long and happy life, which is why regular veterinary checkups and preventive care are essential. But how frequently should you take your dog or cat to the vet? Our Novato vets explain...
Veterinary Preventive Care & Early Detection
Preventing serious diseases, or detecting them in the very earliest stages can help your pet to stay healthier longer.
Taking your dog or cat to the vet on a regular basis allows your vet to monitor your pet's overall health, look for early signs of disease (when conditions are most easily treated), and recommend the best preventive products for your four-legged friend.
Our vets understand that you are concerned about the cost of bringing your dog or cat in for a routine checkup when they seem healthy, but taking a proactive, preventive approach to your pet's care could save you the cost of expensive treatments down the road.
Routine Wellness Exams - Checkups for Pets
Taking your pet to the vet for a routine exam is like taking your furry friend in for a physical. As with people, how often your pet should have a physical depends upon your pet's lifestyle, overall health, and age.
Annual wellness exams are usually recommended for healthy adult dogs, but puppies and kittens, senior pets, and animals with underlying health issues benefit from more frequent exams.
Puppies & Kittens Up to 12 Months Old
If your pet is less than a year old then monthly visits to your vet are recommended.
Several rounds of vaccinations will be required during your puppy or kitten's first year to keep them protected against common infectious diseases. Distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvo, corona, rabies, and leptospirosis vaccines are all recommended for puppies. Kittens should get their FVRCP vaccine, which protects them against three highly contagious and potentially fatal feline diseases: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FHV-1), Feline Calicivirus (FCV), and Feline Panleukopenia (FPL).
These vaccines will be given to your young friend over the course of about 16 weeks and will go a long way towards keeping your puppy or kitten healthy.
The exact timing of your pet's vaccinations will vary depending on your location and your furry friend's overall health.
Between 6 - 12 months our vets recommend having your puppy or kitten spayed or neutered in order to prevent a host of diseases and undesirable behaviors as well as an unwanted litter.
Adult Pets Up To 7 Years of Age
If you have a healthy, active adult dog or cat between 1 - 7 years old, yearly routine exams are recommended. These examinations are annual physical checkups that are done while your pet seems completely healthy.
During your adult pet's routine exam your vet will perform a head-to-tail examination of your pet to look for early signs of illness or other issues, such as tooth decay, joint pain, or parasites.
Your veterinarian will also administer any necessary vaccines, discuss your dog or cat's diet and nutritional needs, recommend appropriate parasite protection, and discuss any training or behavioral issues you may be experiencing.
If your vet detects any signs of developing health issues they will discuss their findings with you and recommend the next steps.
Senior Dogs & Cats
Dogs are typically considered senior or geriatric when they are about 8 years old, except in the case of giant breeds. Dogs such as Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Mastiffs, and Saint Bernards age more quickly than other breeds and will require more frequent preventive care earlier, typically starting around 5 years of age.
Cats are considered to be senior when they reach 11 years of age.
Because many animal diseases and injuries are more common in senior pets, we recommend that you take your senior dog or cat to the vet every 6 months. All of the checks and advice mentioned above will be included in your senior pet's twice-yearly wellness check-up, along with a few additional diagnostic tests to provide additional insight into your pet's overall health.
Some diagnostic tests we recommend for our senior patients include blood tests and urinalysis to check for early signs of problems such as kidney disease or diabetes.
Geriatric care for pets also includes a more proactive approach to keeping your dog or cat comfortable as age-related issues such as joint pain become more common. If you have a senior pet, ask your vet how often you should bring your pet in for a routine exam.
Many veterinarians strive to make preventive care more affordable for their clients by offering Wellness Plans.
We offer Wellness Plans for dogs and cats of all breeds and sizes at Bel Marin Animal Hospital to help make your pet's routine healthcare easier on your wallet. We bundle all of the preventive services your pet requires to stay healthy with our Wellness Plans, including routine exams, vaccinations, parasite prevention, and more. Then we provide you with an affordable monthly payment plan to assist you in saving money and managing your budget.
Ask your vet about a Wellness Plan for your cat or dog.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.