Regular trips to the veterinarian give your pet the best chance at lifelong wellbeing, but just how often should you take them? It largely depends on their age, breed, and species. Today, our Torrance vets explain...
Veterinary Preventive Care & Early Detection
Prevention is the best form of protection. By taking your pet to the vet regularly and staying up to date on their vaccinations and parasite preventive measures, you can stop many serious diseases and disorders from occurring in the first place.
Routine checkups also allow your vet to look for early signs of disease and treat them before they become more serious—and more expensive—issues.
At the very minimum, we recommend a once annual vet checkup for all pets, but individual needs may vary based on your pet's age or any existing medical conditions.
Puppies & Kittens Up to 12 Months Old
Your new puppy or kitten will need to visit the veterinarian frequently during their first 12 months.
During your puppy or kitten's first year they are going to need several rounds of vaccinations to help keep them protected against common infectious diseases. 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.
Your vet will examine your new friend for any congenital defects and administer deworming medication for both cats and dogs. Kittens will also have a blood test done to check them for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.
Between 6 - 12 months our vets recommend having your puppy or kitten spayed or neutered in order to prevent unwanted litters, undesirable behaviors (such as aggression) and some serious forms of cancer. New pets should also be microchipped when they get their spay or neuter procedure done to help them be found more easily should they go missing.
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. 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 required booster vaccines, speak to you about your dog or cat's diet and nutritional requirements, recommend appropriate parasite protection, and discuss any training or behavioral issues you may be noticing.
If your vet detects any signs of developing health issues they will discuss their findings with you and recommend the next steps you should take.
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 10-11 years of age.
Since many animal diseases and injuries tend to be more common in older pets we recommend taking your senior dog or cat to the vet every 6 months. Twice-yearly wellness check-ups for your senior pet will include all of the checks and advice mentioned above with additional screening for geriatric conditions and potentially extra diagnostic tests to provide insight into your pet's overall health.
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.
Exotic pets, such as rabbits, ferrets, lizards, and birds, require veterinary care as well. Much like a dog or cat, exotic pets should have an annual wellness trip to the veterinarian. While they might not have the same vaccination needs as a dog or cat, an annual physical will help ensure they are healthy and catch any emerging issues before they become more serious. Your vet will also be able to recommend any species-specific care they might need. For example, it is recommended that female rabbits undergo a spaying procedure to protect them from a high chance of developing uterine cancer.
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.