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Why You Should Take Your Dog to the Vet

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veterinarian scratches dog chin during exam

The importance of taking your dog to the veterinarian can’t be stressed enough. You should never feel as though you need to wait until there’s an issue before you take your pal in for a check-up. Instead, by establishing your dog with a veterinary clinic and taking them to regular appointments, you can stay a step ahead of your pet’s health and better ensure they are living their happiest and healthiest life.

Why Should You Take Your Dog to the Veterinarian?

Unfortunately, many canines don’t visit their veterinarian as often as they should, and some may not go at all. However, there are countless benefits to keeping up with your dog’s health by taking them to regular appointments.

Catch Issues Early

During the annual veterinary check-up for dogs, your veterinarian will most likely perform a physical exam where they will check your dog’s temperature and weight. They will also examine the condition of your dog’s coat, skin, teeth, eyes, ears, heart, and lungs.

If your dog develops a health issue, there’s a much higher chance that it will be caught or diagnosed during one of these examinations. Catching a problem early on often means a better opportunity for treatment and recovery, plus it’s usually not as expensive to treat versus issues that linger and become serious. Without the check-up, you may not realize something is wrong until the symptoms are much more progressed and the condition has already worsened.

Keep Track of Your Dog’s Weight

Not everyone has a scale at home, and, depending on the size of your canine companion, weighing them at your house may be easier said than done. By continuing your dog’s annual appointments throughout their life, you will be able to keep a much more accurate eye on their weight.

Your veterinarian can also show you what a healthy weight looks (and feels like) for your dog. Some breeds may be predisposed to having more weight issues, so feel free to talk with your veterinarian about ways to maintain your dog’s ideal size.

Monitor Current Health Issues

If your dog has already been diagnosed with a health condition, such as diabetes, cancer, or arthritis, continuing to see the veterinarian is a perfect way to monitor your dog’s health. While some conditions may remain the same for years, others may progress or change rapidly, which could mean a change in their treatment. Even if your dog is responding well to their medication or treatment plan, it’s crucial that you still take them in to get the all-clear. Any appointment with good news is better than a missed appointment.

It’s also important to keep in mind that depending on your dog’s condition and their veterinarian’s recommendations, you may need to visit the clinic more often than just once per year.

Avoid Preventable Diseases

The importance of veterinary wellness visits goes beyond catching serious conditions early on—they can also help you and your dog easily avoid preventable problems. Prime examples are vaccines. Vaccines are affordable and simple ways to prevent major health complications. Items such as heartworm preventives, flea, and tick repellants are also something your veterinarian can help provide for your dog.

Build a Relationship with Your Veterinarian

Continuing your pet’s veterinary visits regularly will allow you and your dog to form a relationship with your veterinarian and the staff at the clinic. It can make a major difference when your dog recognizes their veterinarian, which may help them feel more relaxed during their exams.

It also allows you to have an open, two-way street for communication. During your dog’s visit, feel free to bring up any concerns, mention behavioral or physical changes in your dog, or ask questions that have been on your mind.

In addition, regular visits also allow your veterinarian to get to know your dog better. By understanding your dog’s personality in addition to their health history, they may have an easier time in the future with catching when your dog isn’t acting like their usual self.

dog in waiting room at veterinarians office

Common Excuses

Taking your dog to the veterinarian should be an automatic part of any pet parent’s schedule. That said, there are many reasons why pet parents skip appointments or don’t take their dogs in for annual check-ups.

  • My dog looks healthy. There are a plethora of health conditions your dog could experience that are invisible to the naked eye. Simply because your dog appears to be healthy, that doesn’t mean there isn’t something else happening internally.

  • I can do my own research online. You can do some online research of your own to try and diagnose and treat your dog. However, the fact of the matter is that most of these online resources will not be nearly as reliable as having a licensed veterinarian see your dog in person.

  • I don’t have time. You may live a hectic lifestyle and think you don’t have the time to take your dog to the veterinarian. However, it’s crucial to prioritize your pet’s health, just as you would your own or another member of your family’s. Feel free to ask your veterinarian if they ever have appointments available on weekends or outside of regular business hours so you won’t have to miss work. You can also inquire about any online or telehealth options. This could save you a trip into the office and better work around your schedule while still providing your dog the care they need.

  • It’s too expensive. Regular visits to veterinary offices could vary in price depending on where you live and the individual practice you choose. However, this can be a small price to pay to ensure that your dog is still healthy, and if there is something wrong, catching it early could save you money in the long run. That said, the typical price for an annual appointment isn’t something that will break the bank, and it could easily be worked into a budget.

    It is quite understandable how finances can be a stressful topic for some, and budgets come in all shapes and sizes. Pet insurance is a wonderful resource to help pet parents cover the eligible costs of appointments, diagnostics, and treatments for their pets’ unexpected accidents and illnesses. Some pet insurance providers also offer preventive care coverage add-ons for an additional cost that can cover certain wellness care like annual check-ups, preventive vaccines, and routine dental cleanings.

  • I don’t know where to go. If you are new to your area or a first-time pet parent, you may not be established with a veterinarian. Though that is something all pet parents will experience at some point, what’s most important is that you do not wait to find a veterinary practice—you never know when you will need to have one at the ready.

    Perhaps one of the most helpful first steps is to research your options. Look at private practices, animal hospitals, and clinics and see what is nearby. You can explore average prices, the resources they provide, their ratings and reviews, and consider how far away you are willing to travel. Ask your fellow neighbors, friends, family, or co-workers who have pets and live nearby who they visit and recommend.

  • My dog doesn’t like the veterinarian. It’s not unusual for dogs to feel hesitant or anxious when they visit the veterinarian, but there are many ways to help them feel more at ease. Before the visit, allow them to exercise, have playtime or offer them some enrichment, like a food puzzle toy. Bring some tasty treats along and offer them some while they wait in the lobby and after the vet is done examining them. Showing your dog that the veterinary office can be a fun place where they get treats could help make the experience more positive. If you continually skip your pet’s appointments and take them even less frequently, that could cause them to dislike the veterinarian even more.

If your dog is experiencing severe anxiety, fear, or even aggression when they visit their veterinarian, you may want to consider finding a qualified behavior professional. Together, the behaviorist, your veterinarian, and yourself can work on decreasing your dog’s negative reactions. After all, visiting the veterinarian is something your dog will do for the rest of their life, so it can be significant in helping them become more comfortable at their appointments.

Pet parents may think these to be legitimate reasons why they don’t take their dogs to the veterinarian. However, there are obtainable solutions to each of these roadblocks, and none of them should stand in the way of a dog receiving the care they need.

Common Questions

It’s common for pet parents to have many questions concerning their pet’s well-being, particularly when it comes to their health and medical care. Frequently asked questions include,

  • How often should you take your dog to the veterinarian for a check-up?

    Your dog’s veterinary check-up schedule can depend on multiple factors, including age and health. For instance, puppies will need frequent visits so that they may receive their necessary shots and preventive medications, and around six months, your puppy can get spayed or neutered, which may also require a follow-up visit. During this time, your veterinarian will also keep an eye on your puppy’s growth rate.

    Throughout most of your dog’s adulthood, it’s typically recommended that they visit their veterinarian once a year. As your dog reaches their senior years, many veterinarians recommend taking them in for a check-up every six months.

    In the instance that your dog develops a health condition, their visits may need to become more frequent so a closer eye can be kept on their health.

  • What is included in a wellness visit for dogs?

    Check-ups for dogs can include many items, such as getting their temperature, weight, hair, skin, nails, ears, eyes, and mouth examined. A complete exam may also include having their heart and lungs checked. Some wellness visits may also include bloodwork or a urinalysis. If they are due for it, your dog may also receive their necessary vaccines.

  • Can pet insurance help cover the cost of a veterinary visit?

    Accident and illness pet insurance plans can cover the eligible costs of your pets’ vet care if they get unexpectedly sick or hurt. With ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plans, you can also add preventive care coverage for a little extra cost and have assistance with annual visits, heartworm and flea prevention, and various tests and vaccines.

  • How can I help my dog be more comfortable during a veterinary visit?

    With so many new and different sights, sounds, and smells, it’s no wonder dogs can feel a little overwhelmed in a veterinarian’s office. Try a few methods to calm their nerves.

    A fantastic option is to take your dog on a walk or play with them right before their appointment. This can help burn off extra energy and give them time to relieve themselves, preventing accidents from happening in the building. If you have a smaller dog, consider taking them to the veterinary office in their travel carrier. This may give them a sense of safety and help them stay more relaxed.

    If your dog becomes highly anxious around other canines, call your veterinary office ahead of time to see if you can schedule your appointment outside of peak hours. You can also inquire about waiting in your car (instead of the waiting room) until the time of your appointment.

    You could also check if your veterinarian offers “happy visits.” This option involves scheduling a quick five-minute appointment with your veterinarian where your dog will go to an exam room, but instead of being examined, your pup will just receive some treats and pets from the veterinary staff. This helps create a positive association with their veterinarian and may also help relieve some anxiety.

By continuing to take your dog to their veterinarian throughout their entire life, you are helping prioritize their overall well-being. Plus, by keeping up with appointments, expressing any concerns to your veterinarian, and receiving preventive care, you could help save yourself money in the long run.

An ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan can help you with eligible costs for covered conditions like surgery expenses for accidents and help provide peace of mind that your pet can receive the care they need. Check out our online resources to learn more about your insurance options and get a free quote today. The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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