How Often Should You Take Your Dog to the Vet?

BY: Colleen Loggins Loster |Jun 28, 2018

How often should you take your dog to the vet? In general, if your pup is in good health, you should take them to the vet at least once a year for an annual checkup. During these checks, vets will perform a physical exam and assess their overall health. But if you have a new puppy or an older dog, things get a little more complicated.


Puppies (birth to six months)

From housebreaking to behavior training, puppies notoriously require a lot of work; naturally, they require a lot of visits to the vet, too.

Birth to 16 Weeks

First exam: Puppies need an exam from the vet when you first get them, even if you've adopted them from a shelter that says they are up-to-date with their vet visits and vaccinations. During this exam, vets will check your puppy's health and perform a fecal exam to test for parasites. They'll also make sure your puppy is at a healthy weight and that they're developing properly.

Puppy vaccinations: Until they are 16 weeks old, puppies need to see the vet every 3–4 weeks to get a series of puppy vaccinations. These include vaccines for rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and more.

Heartworm, flea, and tick prevention: Heartworm treatments start preferably no later than 8 weeks old, according to the American Heartworm Association. Around 12–16 weeks, puppies will typically get flea- and tick-prevention medication.

Six Months

Around six months, puppies will need to see the vet for spaying or neutering. They'll need another physical exam, too.

Adult Dogs (1 year to about 7–10 years)

Depending on the breed, dogs are considered to be adults from 1 to 10 years old. If they're healthy, they'll only need an annual physical exam. They'll also get any necessary booster shots (distemper-parvo and rabies boosters are usually every three years), and the vet will administer a series of tests, from heartworm to fecal.

Senior Dogs (7+ years)

Vets recommend two checkups per year for senior dogs. That's because senior dogs are more prone to health problems, and the earlier these problems are detected, the better quality of life your dog will have. In addition to performing exams, the vet will talk to you about any changes in your dog's habits and may recommend a special diet for your aging pup.

Average cost for vet visits

Where you live plays a factor in the cost of vet visits, but here are the typical costs, according to the American Kennel Club:


  • Annual physical exam: $58
  • Vaccinations: $268
  • Spay/neuter: $175
  • Heartworm test and prevention: $127
  • Flea and tick prevention: $190
  • Fecal exam: $60
  • Dental cleaning, if necessary: $125

Total: $1,003

Adult dogs

Because the annual cost for adult dogs depends on a lot of variables, the AKC simply says that routine visits cost between $700 and $1,500 per year. That includes the exam, any necessary lab tests and vaccines, and dental care.

Low-cost vet

We can help you save on vet costs with one of our veterinarian deals. Another way to save is to adopt a shelter dog. Most shelters will include vaccinations in the cost of adoption, though again, you should still take your newly adopted dog to the vet for a basic exam.



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