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How often should my dog visit the vet?

The goal of most dog owners is to make sure their four-legged best friends live long, healthy, and happy lives. Providing the necessary care along with regular vet visits is part of responsible pet ownership.

The importance of regular vet visits

Veterinarians are trained professionals who play an essential role in our dog’s life. From puppy health checks and vaccinations to desexing, dental care, routine health checks and support well into our dogs’ senior years, vets can be our best friend’s best friend.

As with our own health conditions, the longer we leave things the worse they can get – so it’s important to keep up with regular vet checks for your dog.

Maintaining key check-ups

At 6-8 weeks of age, puppies should visit the vet for their first vaccination and health check. If your puppy comes from a breeder, this should be while they are still with the breeder. Puppies available from the RSPCA have already had their vaccinations (as well as being desexed and microchipped). After adoption, it is recommended you take your puppy for another checkup. This will include a thorough examination and weighing of your puppy, with your vet advising on parasite prevention, training, nutrition, and discussing any concerns you may have around puppy health, socialisation and behaviour.

Follow-up vaccinations will be due at 10-12 weeks, and final puppy vaccinations by around 16 weeks, depending on vet advice. The reason for repeated puppy vaccinations is to ensure any maternal immunity from anti-bodies passed onto the puppy from their mother isn’t interfering with the vaccine’s effectiveness. After puppy vaccinations are complete, yearly boosters are generally given every 1-3 years, as recommended by your vet depending on the vaccination used and your dog’s risk factors.

General dental and health check-ups

Did you know dogs age much faster than us? That is one of many reasons why seeing the vet twice a year is a great idea. It helps your vet note and treat any issues before they become bigger problems and keep an eye on your dog’s weight and general health. Dental checkups are also needed as 80% of dogs experience some level of dental disease by just three years of age. Many dogs need their teeth cleaned (dental scaling and polishing) to keep their teeth healthy. You can also discuss with your vet the best diet and home dental care options for your dog.

Pet care and grooming

Skin conditions and lumps and bumps are common issues that occur in dogs. Daily grooming and regularly checking your dog’s skin and nails is important. Be sure to keep note of any change in the size or colour of lumps and see your vet as soon as possible if you notice anything concerning.

Injuries and illnesses in dogs

Should your dog suffer an injury or be seriously ill, it’s vital they are seen by a vet immediately. Pets are not always able to tell us when they are suffering, so it's always best to err on the side of caution and have them checked promptly by a vet if you think something is not right. Take note of your nearest emergency vet hospital phone number and address in case you ever need it urgently.

Dogs in their senior years

Although it depends on the size and breed of dog, most dogs are considered senior from around seven years of age. At this stage you may observe outward signs of greying around the muzzle, being less active, difficulty climbing stairs and sleeping more. Some other issues you may notice in your senior dog are vision and hearing deterioration, difficulty engaging in activities such as getting on and off the sofa, standing after lying down, walking and playing, lumps and bumps, bad breath and behaviour changes such as confusion.

Please see your vet for these concerns and don’t just dismiss them as ‘old age’. With the right nutrition, medication and care many dogs are staying healthy and happy well into their teens.

Happy and healthy for longer

Along with love, attention, proper nutrition and exercise, veterinary care is vital to help our dogs thrive.

RSPCA Pet Insurance is designed to assist you when your pet is unexpectedly sick or accidentally injured. Consider RSPCA Pet Insurance to help give you peace of mind for managing vet bills for eligible injury and illness. If you’re with RSPCA Pet Insurance, a portion of first-year premiums go towards supporting the valuable work of the RSPCA.

Dr Catherine Tiplady bio image

Dr Catherine Tiplady

Dr Catherine Tiplady studied veterinary science at the University of Queensland. After graduation, Dr Catherine worked in veterinary practice whilst undertaking postgraduate research in Animal Welfare, gaining additional degrees in Bachelor of Applied Science (Animal Studies) (Hons 1) and a PhD. Dr Catherine has published widely in peer reviewed scientific journals and has also authored a book, ‘Animal Abuse: Helping Animals and People’. Currently working in small animal practice, Dr Catherine also has her own business performing gentle in-home pet euthanasia and provides veterinary care and desexing services for animal welfare charities. Dr Catherine brings her passion for animal welfare, love of writing and scientific training together to contribute quality content to RSPCA Pet Insurance’s Pet Care blog.