When Should I Take My Dog To The Vet?

When Should I Take My Dog To The Vet?

Sep 21, 2021
14 min

Dogs benefit from regular health checks and dental visits to the veterinarian. But how often is enough? How do you know when to take your dog to the vet?

Well, the frequency of your pet’s visits to the vet will depend on several factors including your dog’s life stage and health status. For example, puppies need more frequent visits because they need to be vaccinated and dewormed at specific intervals for optimum protection. On the other hand, senior dogs also need frequent visits to the vet especially if they are being monitored for a specific health issue/s.

Unfortunately, many pet owners think that frequent visits to the vet are unnecessary and expensive. However, even with the advancements in veterinary medicine and pet health, the saying, “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” still holds true.



Most Common Illnesses That Are Brought To The Attention Of A Vet

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Limping
  • Coughing
  • Lumps or bumps
  • Sudden changes in appetite and/or water intake
  • Sudden changes in urination or defecation
  • Eye or ear issues
  • Skin problems or intense itching
  • Lethargic dog
  • Sudden change in activity level or temperament


How do you know when to take your dog to the vet?

Most veterinarians recommend a once-a-year health and wellness checks for all dogs. These visits are valuable opportunities to keep track of your pet’s growth and development, have your pet undergo a thorough physical check-up, and discuss any concerns you may have with your veterinarian. It is also during these visits checks that early signs of illness are often detected thus it can be addressed as early as possible. This can certainly go a long way in improving the prognosis, as well as less expensive veterinary bills compared to treating a full-blown medical problem that has already developed serious complications.



Why Are Annual Vet Visits Important?

Responsible pet owners recognize the importance of annual wellness visits to the vet. It is a sure step toward taking a proactive approach to your pet’s preventive care, which includes the dog’s diet and nutrition, regular physical activity, behavior, dental care, and routine veterinarian care. Routine wellness checks also empower pet owners to make well-informed choices regarding the health and well-being of their pets.



Puppies Wellness Checks

Puppies require monthly wellness checks. That’s a visit to the vet’s every month until puppies are 16 weeks of age. These visits primarily involve vaccination and boosters and a complete physical exam.



Basic Vaccination Schedule For Puppies**






6-8 weeks


First shot – DHLPPC ( this is a combination vaccine for canine distemper, parvovirus, coronavirus, hepatitis, leptospirosis, and parainfluenza.


10-12 weeks


Second shot – DHLPPC


12-14 weeks




14-16 weeks


Third shot – DHLPPC



**A puppy’s vaccination schedule may vary depending on the location and the health profile of a puppy. It is recommended that you work with your veterinarian for your pet’s vaccination schedule.


Once vaccines have been completed, your veterinarian may ask you to come back when your puppy is around 6 months of age to be spayed (female) or neutered (male).



Adult dogs

Vet recommendations for wellness checks of adult dogs are at least once a year. During the visit, your dog will undergo a thorough physical exam, heartworm test, dental checkup, and vaccination updates. These visits are also excellent opportunities to discuss with your vet about your pet’s behavior and overall wellness.



Senior dogs

When dogs enter their senior years at about 7 to 8 years old, the wear and tear of the years eventually catch up with them. As their bodies start to slow down, they become more prone to developing age-related issues that warrant semi-annual, which is every 6 months, visits to the vet. In addition to a thorough physical checkup, your vet may also recommend certain diagnostic procedures for your senior pet, such as blood tests, chest x-rays, stool exams, ultrasound, etc. Depending on your dog’s health, your vet may also recommend more frequent checkups. Catching issues early is very important so they can be nipped in the bud before serious complications can set in. If your senior dog is taking some medications for a specific health issue, more frequent visits may also be necessary so your vet can monitor the effects of the treatment regimen that your dog is on.



How do I tell if my dog is in pain?

Dogs are wired to try their best to hide any signs of pain. It’s an instinct of self-preservation that they have inherited from their wild ancestors. But if you do spend a lot of time with your dog, you will be able to spot tell-tale signs of pain, even the subtlest ones.


Typical signs of pain in dogs include:

  • Panting
  • Crying
  • Reluctant to play or move
  • Shaking
  • Hunched over
  • Flattened ears
  • Aggression
  • Lameness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive licking or scratching at specific areas of the body



When should you take a vomiting dog to the vet?

You should take your pet to your vet when he vomited several times during the day or has vomited for more than one day. You should also seek medical intervention if your dog’s vomiting is accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhea, blood in vomit or stool, change in water intake and urination, collapse, and abdominal pain.



When should I take my dog to the vet for itching?

Persistent itching in dogs should be brought to the attention of the vet sooner rather than later. Chewing and scratching can eventually cause breaks in the skin where secondary bacterial infection can develop. Intense itching can also lead to excessive hair loss. A visit to the vet can help identify the underlying cause so the appropriate treatment can be given immediately.


When should I take my dog to the emergency vet?

Even with regular health and wellness checks annually or semi-annually, emergencies do occur. Knowing how to spot important signs will enable you to seek immediate veterinary intervention which is very crucial during the early part of a problem or issue. If your pet dog displays any of the following symptoms, go to the nearest vet clinic right away:

  • Has been vomiting and/or had diarrhea for more than 24 hours
  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in the stool
  • Seizure
  • Trauma –being hit by a car, fallen from a considerable height, or hit by a blunt object
  • Broken bones
  • Appears unconscious
  • Breathing difficulty or has stopped breathing
  • Pale gums
  • Showing symptoms of extreme pain
  • Has eaten something toxic like household chemicals, lawn and garden products, antifreeze, rat or slug bait, etc.
  • Sudden collapse and unable to get up
  • Appears disoriented
  • The abdomen is swollen or hard to the touch


Do I have to take my dog to the vet?

Yes, you should! Preventive health can actually be a financially-feasible choice in the long run. It also helps ensure that your pet will have a long and healthy life.