When Should I Take my Dog to the Vet
As a pet parent, you might already take your dog to the vet for their annual check-up, but that might not be as many vet visits as you truly need to ensure the health and wellness of your furry companion.
How frequently your dog should visit the vet will depend on their life stage, health, and what type of vet they’re seeing. For example, senior dogs may require more vet visits than healthy adult dogs, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, you might not even be sure if your dog needs to see a vet or if they just need rest after getting hurt jumping off the couch. Here’s when you need to take your dog to the vet.
Annual Wellness Exam
All dogs need a physical once a year, just like you. Taking your dog to the vet every year allows your vet to check on their overall health. These vet visits can also help you track your dog’s development from the time they’re a puppy or adopted through adulthood while giving you the opportunity to speak face-to-face with your vet about any concerns.
Annual wellness exams are an important part of preventative pet care to ensure your pets don’t become sick when they’re healthy. While at your dog’s annual exam, ask your vet any questions you have about their overall health, including nutrition, exercise, and even brushing their teeth at home.
By taking your dog to their annual wellness exam, you can make better choices for how to care for them at home. You can also discover illnesses early on and begin treating them as soon as possible. During the annual exam, your vet will test your pet for heartworm and give you a prescription for heartworm prevention for one year. You may also ask for a prescription for flea and tick prevention medicine.
Depending on when your pup was vaccinated, they might need to visit the vet before or after their annual wellness exam to ensure they’re fully vaccinated. Most states require the rabies vaccination, and if you’re living in an apartment, you’ll have to provide your landlord with proof of the vaccination. When your dog is young, they may need a rabies vaccination annually until they reach adulthood, when you can choose to get the three-year vaccination.
Odd Eating Habits
Dogs will sometimes skip a meal or two, especially when they’re stressed. Some stressors can be if someone else is feeding them, you have another animal in the house they aren’t acquainted with, or a change of scenery. If you notice your pet isn’t eating as much as it used to, it could be a sign that something is wrong. More than one full day without eating is a sign that your dog isn’t feeling well, and some illnesses make dogs develop strange eating habits.
Diarrhea and Vomiting
If your dog has diarrhea or is vomiting for more than 24 hours, you may need to call your vet. You can also have a tele-vet appointment as soon as diarrhea begins to meet with your vet and let them tell you how you can treat an upset stomach at home. In many cases, diarrhea is not a serious health concern and can be addressed with a bland diet. Just like humans, sometimes dogs get tummy problems from something they ate. However, if your dog has diarrhea alongside vomiting and is not drinking water, it could be more serious, especially if it lasts more than a day
If your pet is limping, they could have joint pain or a broken bone. Pets can limp when they have something stuck in their paws or pull a muscle. Some causes of limping are more serious than others. If you notice your dog limping and you’re unsure why, let them rest for a few hours and see how they feel. If your dog is still limping the next day or the limp has gotten worse, take them to the vet because it may be serious.
Breathing issues are a serious problem and require immediate attention. If at any point your dog begins making strange noises, including choking or gagging and puffing of their lips, they might have something stuck in their throat, or they’re reacting to something.
Of course, every dog pants during playtime or on a hot day, but if your pet is panting excessively for no reason, they might be having an anxiety attack. While panic attacks are not immediate emergencies, it’s essential to calm your dog down as quickly as possible.
If your dog is drinking more water than usual, it might be because of the weather or an extended walk. However, drinking more water without recent exercise or a change in weather might mean there’s something more serious going on. Excessive thirst is a symptom of diabetes, kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, or another health condition. If you notice your dog has an excessive thirst for more than one day, start tracking how often you fill up their bowl and how much they’re drinking. If the excessive thirst continues for a few days, call your vet for an appointment so they can run some tests.
If you notice your pet is aggressive or their behavior has changed over time, something might be going on with their health. Dogs often act aggressively when they’re in pain, so if they’re starting to exhibit signs of aggression or anxiety, it could be more than a behavioral problem.
If your dog goes to the vet and there doesn’t seem to be a health concern, you might try making an appointment with a vet behaviorist. These vets specialize in dog behavior and can help your pet become less aggressive through behavioral training and medication.
If you’re not sure whether to go to the vet for a concern you have about your pet, you can always call your vet and speak with a vet tech. Not everything is an emergency, and sometimes your dog will just need to rest at home. However, if your dog exhibits signs of severe distress, you should visit your local emergency vet.
Marné Amoguis holds a B.A. in International Business from UC San Diego. She is a contributing writer at 365businesstips.com where she loves sharing her passion for digital marketing. Outside of writing, she loves traveling, playing music, and hiking.