Regular wellness checks at a vet clinic is important to the long-term health of your dog, no matter the age, breed, or size. From birth, dogs should be under the regular care of a qualified and well-respected veterinary clinic or animal hospital. That care should last throughout your dog’s life. But how frequently should your dog visit the vet clinic or veterinary hospital? It’s different for different breeds, and during different stages of your dog’s life.

Wellness checks are the same as regular physical exams for humans: they are opportunities for your veterinarian to check your dog’s health when he or she is well, when unexpected health issues are not the impetus for the visit, and after a period of time has passed since the dog’s last wellness check. During an annual checkup, a vet will observe your dog’s movement, teeth, and respiratory systems. The vet will also ask about the dog’s habits, apparent health, eating, and other things. They will give you an opportunity to approach any concerns about your dog’s health, keep pet vaccinations up to date, and prepare you and your dog for any tests or follow-ups, routine or otherwise. How frequently your dog needs to be seen at a vet clinic for wellness checks will be explained by your veterinarian based on the dog’s activity, breeding, age, and history. Read on for a broad idea of how frequently your dog needs to visit a vet clinic based on his or her age.

Puppy

Expect your vet to want to see your puppy once per month for the first five months of his or her life. Vaccinations are vital at this age, the dog is in a crucial stage of development, and any health or diet issues will begin to emerge during these first five months. Tests completed on your dog at this stage help to guide the veterinarian toward potential health problems that are common for puppies. Many health issues that can impact adult dogs are predictable with the tests completed while the dog is a puppy as well.

Adult

At five or six months, your dog is obviously still a puppy. But many breeds don’t require such frequent visits to the vet clinic after five months, and can start to be seen with the same frequency as adult dogs. Some young dogs should visit the vet twice a year, but in general, your vet will wish to check your adult dog once per year, and those checkups will become more routine: prevention for fleas, ticks, and heartworms; new and updated vaccinations, and general appraisals of your dog’s health can be expected during the annual or twice-yearly vet clinic visits for your adult dog.

Senior

Dogs are considered senior at different ages, depending on their size and breed, with larger breeds ready for senior dog care at six years and smaller dogs at eight. How often senior dogs need to be seen for wellness checks will depend more on the health of the dog than its age, size, or breed, but it’s common for older dogs to have to visit vet clinics more frequently than adult dogs, perhaps twice per year or more. Your vet clinic’s input in your dog’s health and diet will be vital at this stage as you work together to anticipate and treat the health issues that can impact older dogs. Although senior dogs, like humans, are more likely to develop health issues, with regular wellness checks and close coordination with a vet, there’s every reason to expect your senior dog to live as happily as he or she did as an adult.

This has been a broad outline of how often your dog should visit the vet clinic at different stages of his or her life. Your very best and most accurate resource for your dog’s wellness care will be your veterinarian. Keeping current with vaccinations, tracking your dog’s diet and eating habits, and remaining vigilant about health and medications are all critical to the long-term health of your dog. But none is more important than regular visits to the vet clinic.