Most pet parents want to do everything in their power to help their fur babies stay happy and healthy. Whether that means buying top shelf food, taking them on long walks, or going to the vet sufficiently, all pet parents want the best for their furry friends. But with the contradicting advice available, it can be hard to know what that really means.
Just like humans, pets need regular checkups to stay healthy and happy. Adequate care will depend on the age, the breed, and the behavior of your furry friend.
For the first 4 months of an animal’s life, vaccinations and other early preventative measures are key. Most veterinarians recommend bringing kittens and puppies into the vet every 3 to 4 weeks to make sure they stay on a vaccination schedule. Many vaccines are required by law and must be administered on a strict schedule. Before purchasing your pet, make sure to ask the breeder or shelter if they are up to date on their vaccines and if not, contact your vet right away.
Once your cat or dog has the appropriate vaccines, most vets recommend a 6-month checkup. This is to make sure your pet is growing a healthy amount, eating and going to the bathroom enough, and is maturing appropriately. This may also be the time when the vet suggests spaying or neutering your animal (which has many benefits, as explained by Spay USA).
After the first year, animals usually go to the vet on an annual basis. These annual checkups will help you stay on top of your pet’s health and hopefully catch anything harmful in the early stages. This visit may include blood tests, vaccines, and stool examinations.
After a dog or cat is 7 years old, they are considered elderly and may require more frequent vet visits. Most vets recommend taking your pet for checkups semi-annually when they are 7 years old or above. These visits may include updated vaccinations or booster shots, blood and urine tests, and more thorough examinations. You never want to think of your fur babies getting sick or needing treatment, but unfortunately, this is a common concern as pets age.
Another thing to consider when going to the vet is dental care. Just like humans, cats and dogs can face dental issues if they are not addressed regularly. While you can try to brush your pet’s teeth at home, a full dental exam from a vet can never hurt.
Regular checkups are the key to proactive health care for your dog or cat. Between vaccinations, health checks, and overall examinations, going to the vet is crucial at every age.
Both cat and dog breeds face unique health concerns. For example, dogs with folded ears like Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are more prone to ear infections, while active dogs like German Shepherds may face hip concerns. Cats like Persians face constant grooming needs and may have trouble breathing if their nose is too short.
Vets know what to look for with common breeds, and can diagnose most issues with regular checkups. Before buying or adopting a new pet, educate yourself on the problems that the animal may face in the future. While they are cute and cuddly now, they may turn into a steep vet bill later.
While most vets recommend annual checkups for animals between 1-7 years and semi-annual checkups for animals 7 years and older, all vets will agree that you should monitor your pet’s behavior closely and see the vet if anything seems out of the ordinary. Symptoms can manifest themselves in many different ways, but may include:
- Eating significantly less or more than normal
- Changes in urine or stool
- A pet drinking little water or more water than normal
- Less excitement over daily things like walks and feeding time
- Any suspicious lumps
- Weight loss or excessive weight gain
- Inflamed gums or bad breath
- Excessive shedding or bald spots
All of these may be signs of an underlying issue and may require the help of a vet as soon as possible. When visiting your vet, whether for an emergency or a regular checkup, make sure to inform them of any changes you have witnessed in detail. The more information you give, the better.
Taking your pet to the vet is just one aspect of being a responsible pet owner. Before adding a new furry friend to your family, educate yourself on all possible vet concerns to prepare for a long, happy life with your companion.