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How Often Should You Take Your Dog to the Vet?

According to 20 Vets & Dog Experts

So you think you’re a good pet parent? Did you realize that if you’re in the habit of taking your dog to the vet once a year, you’re making a mistake? Our panel of 20 vets and dog experts explains why below.

The Most Critical Factors: “The Big 3”


Older dog outside

Most of our experts agreed that age is the most critical factor. You may be able to get by with one visit per year for an adult dog, but puppies and elderly dogs need more frequent visits.

Puppies, of course, need a series of vaccines and deworming. Most puppies are born with internal parasites passed along from their mother. Your vet will also monitor your pup’s development and growth by keeping track of their weight and looking for certain age markers (teeth, sexual development, etc.) You’ll also get the best advice on raising a happy, healthy dog, and the veterinary staff will take time to answer any of your questions.

Older Dogs
When you consider that your dog ages much faster than you do, it makes sense that senior dogs need more frequent vet visits. Trained hands and eyes giving your pup the once over are much more likely to spot any issues so they can be resolved sooner rather than later. Senior status, of course, depends on the breed. While a 10-year old Chihuahua can be considered middle-aged, a 10-year old Dalmatian is labeled a senior. Generally, the smaller the dog, the longer the life span, and the higher the age they become a senior.

#2 Unexpected Behavioral Change

depressed dog

Many of the experts are adamant about paying close attention to your dog’s behavior. A dog can’t tell you something’s wrong, but if you know their habits and preferences, you can spot a change right away. Oftentimes, a physical problem can manifest itself as a behavioral issue, and the only way to be sure is—you guessed it—a vet visit.

One of the expert respondents recommended taking your dog to the vet every week. That seems a bit unfeasible unless you are a millionaire or a vet! Although an extra $50 for a wellness exam once a month may not break the bank, there has to be a balance.

#3 Breed & Lifestyle

Happy dog playing at the beach

A dog's breed and lifestyle tend to go hand in hand. Some breeds are naturally more active while others are more sedentary. Certain breeds are more inclined toward respiratory issues or genetic diseases.

You may not have known it at the time you got your dog, but your dog's breed likely has a strong influence on how often you're in and out of the vet.

Quick Expert Tips for Staying Out of The Vet's Office

  • Diligence in knowing and monitoring your dog’s appearance and behavior
  • Provide positive interaction through play and walks or outings
  • Buy the best quality food you can afford
  • Love and hugs!

The Reader’s Digest Version

The consensus on the best way to keep your dog out of the vet’s office is your own diligence. It’s imperative to spend time with and get to know your dog. Keep tabs on their body composition, appetite, elimination habits, eyes, coat, and demeanor. Providing sufficient human interaction will create a strong bond, and outdoor exercise or play time a strong body. Provide the best quality food and water you can afford.

Doggone Good Advice:

Checking over your dog frequently and being mindful of any changes should be factored in when considering how often you should take your dog to the vet. The baseline isn’t always enough.” (Christina Ostro)

“Being observant, making daily physical evaluations to notice any changes, and spending time knowing your dog’s habits and behavior will go a long way in the early detection of medical issues.” (Paola Cuevas)

“The most important thing to remember about taking your dog to the vet is that it's not about how often you do it, but rather about being there for your pet when they need it.” (Aaron Rice)

“It’s not easy being a pet owner and a working man, but if you have them in your home, they are your responsibility.” (Jay White)

“Dogs are part of the family, and it is important to take care of them.” (Alexa Justine)

Straight from the Dog’s Mouth

"NEVER! Or at least almost never. Are you kidding me? Just the smell of the place makes me want to bolt. And the needles? And clippers? Swabs and tubes? Who in their right mind uses that kind of stuff? Yeah, never. Have you ever sat on that table??? It’s cold! And last time I was there I came home missing a couple of parts! The first thing they do is make you get on the scale. Haha. Very funny. Then somebody needs to shine a light in my eyes and stick a tube in my ears and … oh man, definitely NEVER!! PLEASE…not the thermometer!"

Look at Age, Health & Habits

Amber LaRock, veterinarian

Amber LaRock


There are a number of factors that can influence how often pet owners should take their dogs to the vet. These include things like the dog's breed, age, overall health status, and lifestyle habits.

Toy breeds have a tendency toward respiratory problems or skin allergies, both young and old dogs may require more frequent veterinary care in order to detect and care for any age-related conditions.

At the same time, it is important to consider your dog's individual needs when deciding how often he should visit the vet. Factors such as his activity level, diet, and exposure to toxins can all play a role in determining how frequently he needs routine care and medical attention.

Ultimately, the best way to determine all this is by consulting with your veterinarian and working together to develop an appropriate care plan that meets your dog's needs.

Puppies and Senior Dogs

Steffi Trott

Dr. Corinne Wigfall


Routine trips to the vet are recommended to ensure the health of your pet is at its best.
Consider your pup’s age:

1) Puppies (2-9 months) need more frequent visits to the vet for an initial puppy check, starting a vaccination course, microchipping, and de-sexing surgery.
2) Annual checks are recommended for your adult dog’s yearly vaccinations and a full health check. If your pet is healthy, these may be the only visits needed.
3) Senior dogs are more likely to develop age-related, chronic disorders, for example, arthritis or heart disease. Annual checks are needed as a minimum to identify any signs of ill-health and ensure your pet is comfortable. Yearly blood tests may be advised and diagnosed, chronic conditions may require more frequent visits for ongoing prescription medications.

Generally Speaking, Age and Breed

Meg Marrs

Meg Marrs


Generally speaking, one visit a year is the standard for healthy, adult pets. You'll be visiting much more frequently during puppyhood due to vaccination schedules, developmental check-ins, and potentially for the odd sock-eating stomach obstruction (although we hope that never happens)!

Senior dogs (7 years and older) also need more frequent visits to the vet to ensure they're keeping healthy as they move into old age. Many senior dogs suffer from arthritis or other ailments that owners may not notice right away, so more frequent vet visits are essential.

And of course, if your dog has any kind of disease or health issue like diabetes, you'll want to be visiting the vet more than the standard once-a-year. Certain breeds may also need more vet visits, especially breeds with a host of genetic issues (such as French Bulldogs).

Be Your Dog’s Age & Weight Watcher

Jacquelyn Kennedy

Jacquelyn Kennedy


All dogs require a checkup at least once a year to establish and monitor your dog’s health and wellness and allow veterinary professionals to check everything from their development and growth to their nutrition.
The frequency of the visits depends on their age, health and any medical conditions they may have. Puppies should visit the vet more frequently in order to receive the relevant vaccinations. Healthy adult dogs may only require an annual checkup for preventative boosters or medications. Senior dogs should visit the vet more frequently (every six months or more) due to potentially declining health.

Other situations where more frequent visits are necessary include dogs with existing health conditions or emergency circumstances (injuries, allergies, and illness). A significant change in a dog’s behavior, weight or eating habits can also be a sign that there is something not quite right. If you have concerns about your dog’s health, it’s important to seek help from a medical professional as soon as possible.

Make Use of Veterinary Chats

Daniel Caughill

Daniel Caughill


You should take your dog to the vet at least once a year for their annual check up and vaccinations. However, if your pup is anything like mine, they’ll give you plenty of scares in between those routine visits.
I recommend looking into an online veterinary chat service, such as Pawp or Vetster. These services allow you to chat with a licensed veterinarian 24/7 for a lot less than it would cost to see a vet in person, and they’ll help you diagnose any issues you’re seeing and let you know if a trip to your local clinic is necessary.

If you’ve found yourself making multiple visits to the vet each year in the past, a vet chat service could help you save money.

The Prescribed Plan

Sara Ochoa, DVM

Sara Ochoa, DVM


How often you take your dog to the vet can depend on many different factors such as age and health issues. Most puppies will need to see a vet every 3 to 4 weeks until they are at least 4 months of age, at around 6 months for their spay or neuter, and at one year for their booster vaccines.

Once your dog becomes an adult, they will only need to see the vet once a year for a check up and vaccines. Older dogs do tend to develop more issues that will require more frequent visits.

Senior dogs should see a vet every 6 months or more often if they have a health issue. Dogs with diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease may need to see their vet every few months for blood work and a check up.

Treat Them Like Family

Alexa Justine

Alexa Justine


Regular checkups are important to make sure your dog stays healthy. A general exam includes checking their weight, heart rate, and temperature as well as a visual inspection of the dog's ears, nose, and mouth. Vaccines are required to help keep your pet safe from getting sick from certain diseases like rabies or distemper. Examinations may also include x-rays or ultrasound to see what might be going on inside the dog’s body.

The frequency of visits will depend on the age and breed of your dog as well as what he or she typically does. If you have a puppy, then visits should be more frequent because their immature immune systems make them more prone to illness and disease. It is a good idea to take your dog to the vet once per month for a full physical checkup.

Dogs are part of the family and it is important to take care of them.

Don’t Ignore the Little Things

Christina Ostro

Christina Ostro


The two biggest factors in determining how often your dog should see the vet are age and health. However, as a professional dog groomer, I find that they need to see the vet more often. I frequently refer my clients to the vet for various conditions that pop up: ear infections, severe skin irritations or infections, dental work, etc. These are things that should not be ignored and require a vet visit, however they are tricky to catch.

Not every tiny new finding on your dog may require a vet visit, however, what you might assume to be a simple UTI could be a serious disease such as cancer. Having a pet professional to check over your dog and discuss concerns with you prior to visiting a vet, is crucial to your dog’s wellness team.

Checking over your dog frequently and being mindful of any changes should be factored in when considering how often you should take your dog to the vet. The baseline isn’t always enough.

Don’t Wait until there is Obvious Pain

Paola Cuevas

Paola Cuevas


When a dog feels sick or something hurts, they are unable to communicate the location or severity of pain. Without this useful piece of information, simple medical issues often go unnoticed by the owners. By the time a dog shows visible symptoms, and its human is finally aware that something is wrong, the treatment involved can be complex and expensive.

Preventative medicine has been a huge part of my professional experience, and I always recommend vet visits at least twice a year, even if you think your dog is healthy and nothing is wrong. Some owners see this as an unnecessary expense but it could save your dog (and you) from suffering.

My advice is that if you see the dog looks sick or something is “not quite right,” do not hesitate and wait to see if it passes. Take your dog to the vet right away. Being observant, making daily physical evaluations to notice any changes, and spending time knowing your dog’s habits and behavior will go a long way in the early detection of medical issues.

Factors such as age, habits, diet, environment, mental state, and medical issues play an important role when deciding how often you should bring the dog to the vet. The rule of thumb is at least twice a year for a routine check, and every time you notice something is not right or the dog has a change of toilet or behavior habits.

More Often for Existing Health Conditions

Chyrle Bonk, DVM, holding cat

Chyrle Bonk, DVM


For new puppies, it’s recommended that they see the vet every 3 to 4 weeks while they get their full set of puppy shots. These should be given at about 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age. They should then return between 6 and 12 months for sterilization. Healthy adult dogs should see the vet every 6 to 12 months for vaccination boosters and wellness exams. Once dogs reach their senior years, around 5 to 7 years of age, wellness exams every 3 to 6 months are recommended since age brings on health conditions that can pop up and get worse very quickly.

Dogs with existing health conditions, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s, etc. should see the vet monthly while they adjust to their medication. Once they get stabilized on a proper dosage and diet, checkups every 3 to 6 months, or as needed, is the best way to go.
Veterinarians and pet owners may change up this schedule any way they see fit. The important thing to remember is that dogs need to be seen at least once every 12 months to maintain a current veterinarian-client-patient relationship. This is necessary for dispensing medications (even flea and tick treatments), and for giving medical advice over the phone.

Seniors More Often

Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS


Your dog should see a vet at least once a year, but they will need more frequent visits when they are younger and older.

Puppies are seen around monthly in their first six months as we provide vaccines, parasite prevention, and ensure they’re developing appropriately. This also allows owners to ask any questions they may have about their new addition (teething, toilet training, nutrition, etc.)
Senior pets are prone to developing medical issues that include dental disease, arthritis and cancer. Most professionals advise that seniors have routine checks at least twice a year, so any issues can be picked up early on.

Annual checks typically include a general health exam and vaccinations as well as the provision of any needed parasite prevention. These visits may also include routine blood tests and blood pressure checks, particularly in the older pet.

It is important that owners not rely on regular checks alone, but rather keep a close eye out for weight loss, changes in thirst or appetite, bad breath, limping or new growths. Anything out of the ordinary would warrant a more prompt check-up.

Be There for Your Dog

Aaron Rice

Aaron Rice


The frequency of visits depends on many factors, such as the age and breed of your dog. Taking your dog to the vet regularly (at least every three months) will help ensure that they stay healthy.

If your dog has a chronic illness or disease, checkups should be more often so that you can catch any changes in their health early on and prevent further complications.

Any changes in your dog’s behavior also warrants a vet visit as it could be a sign of illness or disease.
The most important thing to remember about taking your dog to the vet is that it's not about how often you do it but rather about being there for your pet when they need it.

Be There for Your Dog

Justin Padgett, DVM

Justin Padgett, DVM


Most dogs need to visit their veterinarian once a year to update vaccines, a physical exam, record their weight, and to be checked for parasites. Some owners balk at yearly vaccines (distemper/adenovirus/parainfluenza/parvo and bordetella), but a rabies vaccine administered by a licensed veterinarian is required in every state. Antibody titers involving a blood draw are more expensive than vaccines and not as readily available. They are useful to verify antibody levels if an owner wants to avoid elective vaccines but still be sure their animal is safe. Vaccine records are usually required for animals going to the groomer, doggie daycare, or a boarding facility.

Some dogs require more frequent visits due to a chronic illness that may require blood work or for monitoring their health. Senior dogs (7+) may require twice yearly visits as they begin to experience more health problems as they age.

More Often if you Feed Raw Meat

Debbie Littany

Debbie Littany


If your dog is in tip-top shape, you can opt to take him for an annual check-up. Puppies would be visiting the vet a little more often to monitor their growth and receive vaccines.
Other factors, such as feeding your dog raw meat, may also warrant more frequent visits for deworming. Older dogs may require more wellness checks, especially if there are changes in behavior, range of motion, etc.

Make sure to check on your dog daily to establish a pattern. Watch out for anything out of the ordinary: change in stool, fur and coat, gums, ears, energy, and most especially, appetite.

Dogs Age Faster than Humans Do

Josh Snead

Josh Snead, CEO


Many pets, with shorter lifespans than humans, effectively age at a much more rapid pace. This necessitates more frequent vet care, especially as they get older.

The general recommendation for dogs is a check up at least once a year, but some vets may recommend twice or even more frequent visits as the dog ages. Dogs aged 7+ for larger breeds and 9+ for smaller breeds need vet check ups twice yearly. This frequency will also increase for dogs with standing or ongoing health issues that require regular monitoring and bloodwork.

Age, Health, Lifestyle & Behavior

Julia Jenkins

Julia Jenkins


The first key factor in determining how often to take your dog to the vet is their age. Puppies and senior dogs generally need to go more frequently than adult dogs because they are either growing and developing quickly, or their health may be declining.

Next, is whether your dog is healthy or has any chronic health conditions. Dogs with health problems need to be monitored regularly.

Your dog’s lifestyle also needs to be considered. Dogs that are indoors a lot are less likely to be exposed to diseases and parasites.

The biggest factor of all is any changes in behavior. I work with dogs that have behavioral issues, and it is very common to find an underlying physical problem (allergies, gut problems, musculoskeletal pain, or hormonal issues).

If you are unsure about how often you should take your dog to the vet, it is best to err on the side of caution to ensure that your dog is healthy and happy.

Keep An Eye Out

Jay White

Jay White


Dogs in general require more attention to their health because they are more active and they eat a lot of things that are not meant for them. You should always consider a dog’s age as an important factor. If they’re young (in dog years) you should take them for a check-up every two weeks. If the dogs are middle-aged you should keep an eye on their diet and fitness. And for the older dogs, they should be taken to the vet every week. Keep an eye on their daily routine and their physical appearance (coat, weight, cleanliness, etc.).
It’s not easy being a pet owner and a working man, but if you have them in your home, they are your responsibility.

Keep Up with Wellness Exams

Samantha Odo

Samantha Odo


You already know that you should take your dog to the doctor if they become ill, but you should also take an adult dog for regular wellness examinations. Wellness examinations are an important aspect of your dog's long-term health and prevention. These visits let your veterinarian check your pet's overall health and can aid in disease identification.

If you have a puppy or a dog above the age of 7, however, more frequent vet visits may be required.

Routine Maintenance & Preventative Care

Claire Grayson

Claire Grayson


All dogs should have a physical check-up at least once a year to monitor their development and growth and for routine maintenance. In addition to preventative care, good nutrition, suitable exercise, routine vet care can keep your dog healthier for a longer time and save you money.

Puppy vaccines are on a time table and older dogs are more
disposed to disease and age-related hurts.

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