A family takes their dogs to the vet's office
A family takes their dogs to the vet's office

How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?

Regular vet visits are essential to keep your dog healthy. But just how often do you need to go? We’ll run through how often you’ll need to make appointments with your veterinarian and what to expect for each visit based on your dog’s age. 

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A puppy greets a vet at their office

What to Expect at Your Dog’s Routine Wellness Exams

Dogs at different life stages have different health needs and require different veterinary care, so each of your dog’s routine wellness exams will vary as your dog ages. The size and breed of your dog can also create specific health needs and can even impact life expectancy. The guidelines below should give you an idea of what to expect for vet visits at each stage of your dog’s life.

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A very small puppy getting inspected by a vet

Puppies Up to 1 Year: Visits as Needed

In the first 16 weeks of your new puppy’s life, they’ll need several vaccines to help keep them healthy. That means your puppy will need to go to the vet every 3-4 weeks. You should also talk to your vet about spaying or neutering your puppy, which typically happens around 6 months of age.

Puppy Vaccination Schedule

Canine vaccines are split into core vaccines and non-core vaccines. Veterinarians typically give core vaccines to every dog, while a dog’s lifestyle and health determines if they receive non-core vaccines. Here’s what a typical puppy vaccine schedule looks like, but you should ask your veterinarian which vaccines they recommend for your puppy.1

Core vaccinations

  • 6-8 Weeks: DAPP (distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, parvovirus)
  • 10-12 Weeks: DAPP
  • 14-16 Weeks: DAPP, Rabies (typically given at 16 weeks or later, may be given earlier if required by law)

Non-core vaccinations

  • 6-8 Weeks: Bordetella, parainfluenza (often included in DAP combo vaccine)
  • 10-12 Weeks: Leptospirosis, Lyme
  • 14-16 Weeks: Leptospirosis, Lyme
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An adult dog gets inspected by the vet

Adult Dogs: Yearly Checkup

Adult dogs are 1-7 years old, and vets typically recommend an annual wellness exam. Here are some of the tests and exams you can expect:

  • Routine checkups
  • Vaccine boosters
  • Heartworm test
  • Dental exams
  • Breed-specific tests or exams
  • Other tests as needed based on your dog’s health history
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An older dog smiles at you

Senior Dogs: Twice-a-Year Checkups

If your dog is 8 years or older, they’re considered a senior dog, and vets may recommend a wellness exam every 6 months. Some breeds of dogs, especially large breed dogs, may be considered senior when they are younger than 8 years of age. These visits typically include dental exam, which becomes especially important as your dog ages, and any needed diagnostic tests. Senior dogs may undergo an annual blood screening to check the function of some of their internal organs such as the kidneys and liver. This proactive monitoring can help with early detection of illness. Be sure to talk to your vet about your dog’s health history and bring up any changes you’re concerned about.

Emergency Vet Visits

Even with regular care, emergencies can occur. That’s why it’s important to know when your dog requires emergency care. Though not all inclusive, here are some of the signs that indicate an emergency veterinary visit is warranted: 

If you see any of the following signs, take your dog to the emergency vet right away:

  • Trouble breathing 
  • Lack of appetite and/or not drinking
  • Hind leg weakness
  • Collapse or seizures
  • Sudden change in bowel movements or urination
  • Bloating
  • Limping
  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive whining 


  1.  1. 2022 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines. American Animal Hospital Association. Accessed Jan 24, 2023. https://www.aaha.org/aaha-guidelines/2022-aaha-canine-vaccination-guidelines/home/