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 Los Angeles veterinarians 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 regularly 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 veterinarians understand that you are concerned about the cost of bringing your dog or cat in for a routine checkup when they appear healthy, but taking a proactive, preventive approach to your pet's care could save you money in the long run.
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. Puppies should be immunized against distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvo, corona, rabies, and leptospirosis. 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 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 to prevent a host of diseases and undesirable behaviours as well as unwanted litters.
Adult Pets Up To 7 Years of Age
A yearly routine exam is recommended if you have a healthy, active adult dog or cat between the ages of 1 and 7 years. These examinations are annual physical checkups performed while your pet appears to be in good health.
During your adult pet's routine exam, your vet will examine your pet from head to tail 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 behavioural 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
Except for giant breeds, dogs are considered senior or geriatric when they are around 8 years old. Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Mastiffs, and Saint Bernards age faster than other breeds and require more frequent preventive care earlier, typically beginning around the age of five.
Cats are considered senior when they reach the age of 11.
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-ups, along with a few additional diagnostic tests to provide additional insight into your pet's overall health.
Blood tests and urinalysis are two diagnostic tests we recommend for our senior patients to look for early signs of problems such as kidney disease or diabetes.
As age-related issues such as joint pain become more common, geriatric care for pets includes a more proactive approach to keeping your dog or cat comfortable. If you have a senior pet, inquire with your veterinarian about how frequently you should bring your pet in for a routine exam.
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.