Skip to main content

How often should you take your dog to the vet for regular checkups?

Aside from sickness and injury, it’s not always obvious when your pup needs a visit to the veterinarian, especially when it comes to regular checkups. Pet parents hear about the importance of staying on top of these visits, but many are left wondering, “How often should I take my dog to the vet?”

Although there is no one-size-fits-all answer, most adult dogs won’t require many trips to the vet. In this article, we’ll go over how to know when your pup needs to see her doctor, if it’s a truly necessary practice, and how to identify some common medical symptoms. Before you know it, you’ll feel like a professional yourself, though nothing can truly compare with the education of a licensed veterinarian.

Is it bad to not take your dog to the vet?

As a pet parent, you want to make your dog’s well-being your top priority. This includes feeding her a healthy diet, ensuring daily exercise, and regularly visiting the veterinarian. During these visits, your vet will double-check your pup’s health through and through, including blood-sugar levels and other factors you may not be able to see on your own.

Regular veterinarian checkups will also keep your furry friend up to date on all her vaccinations, which are often required to visit kennels or doggy daycare. Vaccinations also protect your pet and other dogs from passing around a number of dangerous diseases, so these should not be overlooked.

A veterinarian and volunteer give a Labrador Retriever a check up
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How often should I take my dog to the vet?

According to the Brandywine Valley SPCA, healthy adult dogs need to visit the vet for a checkup only once a year. Of course, extra visits may be necessary should your pup get sick or injured, which is why dogs battling chronic illnesses often visit the vet more frequently.

Older dogs tend to need more care than their spry, young counterparts, so you may begin seeing the vet more often in this case, too. These extra trips may be for additional testing, creating treatment plans, or learning new care strategies for your best furry friend.

Vet visits for spaying and neutering, vaccinations, and other checkups may be more frequent for puppies, as well. It’s important to make sure your fur baby is healthy and growing, after all!

When should I take my dog back to the vet?

Once you bring your pup to the vet for the first time, the doctor’s office can help you schedule regular checkups and any other necessary appointments — no work from you required. They’ll let you know when to bring your dog back in, though unforeseen illness and injury can happen.

Even though you know your vet is always there to help, it can be hard to tell when it’s appropriate — or necessary — to make an appointment. It’s an important and tough judgment call, and veterinarians understand, so no one will give you a hard time if you bring your dog in and she ends up perfectly healthy. Pet people get it: Dogs are family!

Some concerning behaviors or changes that may prompt a vet visit include:

  • An obvious injury.*
  • Fever.
  • Sudden change in behavior/aggression.*
  • Lethargy.
  • Extreme or unexplained change in eating or drinking habits.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Inability to urinate, defecate, or vomit.
  • Breathing problems.*
  • Seizures, collapse, or confusion.*
  • Shaking.*
  • Red or cloudy eyes.
  • Skin changes or rash.
  • Vomiting blood.*

*  Denotes a possible veterinary emergency and should be treated immediately (via St. Francis Veterinary Hospital).

A veterinarian and assistant give a Jack Russell Terrier a checkup with a stethoscope.

How can you tell if a dog is running a fever?

Although some concerning symptoms are more obvious to the naked eye, others you may have to feel for. A fever, for example, may not be clear until you feel around for the right signs.

You may have heard the old wives’ tale about feeling for a dog’s fever: If their nose is wet and cold, they’re healthy, but if their nose is hot and dry, they have a fever. While this may indeed be the case sometimes, it’s not quite this simple.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of fever in canines, according to the American Kennel Club:

  • Lethargy or loss of appetite
  • Red eyes
  • Warm ears and warm, dry nose
  • Shivering
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting

The most accurate way to tell whether your dog has a fever, though, is to take her temperature. This may be uncomfortable for your dog and awkward for you, but you can do it from home before deciding whether to visit the vet.

Final thoughts

Keeping a watchful eye on your dog’s health and making routine vet visits a part of your schedule sets up your furry friend for a long, happy life by your side. You can do a lot to keep your pup feeling her best at home, but nothing can replace the professional knowledge and experience of a veterinarian — so don’t wait to look for one if you haven’t already.

Editors' Recommendations

Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
5 surefire ways to keep your dog off your bed and get a good night’s sleep
Dog sleeping in the bed? Here are some ways to avoid that behavior
Big dog lying on bed

One of the most lovable things about dogs is their attachment to you, their pet parent. They want to be wherever you are — no ifs, ands, or buts. Although you, of course, adore spending time with your four-legged friend, there are times when you might want your space — for instance, when it's time to go to sleep.

Dogs don't always understand these boundaries at first, but it is possible to train them to sleep in their crate, a dog bed, or anywhere else you prefer that's not your sleeping spot. With these five tips and tricks, you can learn how to keep your dog off your bed and in their own in no time.

Read more
Are ‘dog years’ really 7 human years? How to calculate your dog’s age
Time to bust the myth: A dog year may not equal 7 human years
A dog licks a person's finger with yogurt on their nose

There are many ways to identify a dog's age and translate dog years to human years — other than knowing their birthday, of course — from the formation of their teeth to the development of their body. Then there’s the classic rule of 7: 1 year in "human time" equals 7  "dog years". However, research shows that figuring out exactly how to translate dog years to human years may not be as simple as multiplying a number by 7. So how can you calculate your dog’s age?
Let’s dive into the latest and most accurate techniques for canine age calculation. Once you know how to apply this knowledge, you'll be able to figure out what stage of life your dog is in.  This calculation is yet another way to ensure you’re taking the best possible care of your best buddy — and it’s fascinating to know either way.

Is 1 dog year 7 human years?
Despite the popularity of this trope — that 1 year for a dog is equal to 7 human years — it’s not quite that simple. In fact, the dog-to-human age equivalent can change from year to year depending on the age and size of your pet. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), all pups will gain about 15 human years within their first actual year of life, while the second year of life equals another nine years.
Past year two, however, the numbers tend to differ. Larger breeds will “age faster” on paper, meaning their human age equivalent will be higher than that of a smaller dog who was born at the same time. This may sound a bit sad, or even worrisome, so it’s important to remember that age isn’t an indicator of health or life expectancy. As we tell humans, age is just one number.

Read more
How to stop a dog from peeing in their crate for good in 5 easy-to-follow steps
These tricks will keep your house — and his — pee free
A brown puppy lies in their crate on a blanket with their head resting on their crossed paws

As pet parents, we’d like to think that we have every solution for behavior issues, like how to stop a dog from peeing in his crate. Your buddy can’t exactly tell you why he pees in the crate when you’re not home, though, and you can't always catch him in the act — so it can be tricky.
Luckily, with a keen eye and a few trial runs, you’ll figure out the problem in no time. You can always enlist your family, vet, or local doggie daycare to keep an eye out, too, but it’s up to you to make the necessary changes to change the behavior. Anything from a more consistent routine to a new treat-dispensing toy could be the difference between cleaning up a puddle or coming home to a happy pup.
Here’s how to stop your dog from peeing in his crate.

First, rule out medical issues as a cause for crate incontinence
Before anything else, it’s important to make sure your fur baby is in good health, so you should book a visit to your vet. Many medical issues could cause a dog to lose control of their bladder, not all of which are obvious or even noticeable. Dogs are notorious for hiding their discomfort, after all.
A few reasons your dog might not be able to hold it include:

Read more