Visiting the vet can be an anxiety-filled experience for both you and your pet, should he get sick. IF you’re fearful that your dog or cat might be sick or injured, have a new pet, or are just wondering about proper check up schedule, here’s a quick guide on determining when you should visit vet.
Apparent Sickness or Injury
If your dog or cat is suddenly vomiting, or if he took a spill down some stairs during the night, should you visit an emergency veterinarian room? Whenever in doubt, you should at the very least call your personal vet or a veterinarian hospital, which provides 24-hour access to emergency pet care. There are also definite emergencies that you should be aware of which will require immediate care. These include:
- Any type of intense trauma such as being hit by a car
- Being bit by another dog or wild animal
- Vomiting blood or extended bouts of diarrhea
- Unconsciousness or seizuring
- Ingesting toxic fluids like household cleaners or anti-freeze
- Disoriented and/or dizzy and running into objects
- Bloated stomach
If you’re unsure where to take your pet in the case of an emergency, use the AAHA hospital locator tool to locate an accredited hospital near you.
New Pet Owners: When’s The First Trip to the Vet?
Puppies: Getting your puppy off on the right foot can be tough for a new dog owner, but his first trip to the vet is an important step in raising a puppy into a healthy dog. You should normally bring your puppy to the vet for the first time between 8 to 10 weeks of age. A full-body exam will be conducted to determine overall health and vaccines are administered. These could include vaccines for rabies, distemper, parainfluenza, bordetella and more.
Kittens: Making sure your newest feline friend starts out his life healthy, his first trip to the vet should be at 6-8 weeks. On your first visit, the veterinarian will give your kitten a general examination to make sure s/he is healthy. The doctor will check his/her teeth, ears, eyes, and listen to the heart and lungs. Your kitten will be given initial vaccinations and also be put on a deworming program at the time of the first visit. This is important to protect your pet against internal parasites.
With a new pet comes new responsibilities – which you may need some help with. Dr. Ruth MacPete, DVM, advises: “Your veterinarian will give you advice about diet, grooming, dental care, training, common behavioral issues, pet-proofing your home, and how to plan for the unexpected with pet insurance. Your vet will become your #1 source of pet advice. It’s a good idea to establish a good relationship with your vet.
Taking your new kitten to the veterinarian is a great way get started on the right track. Your veterinarian will make sure your new kitten is healthy, free of parasites, appropriately vaccinated, on the right preventatives, spayed or neutered, and microchipped. Your vet will partner with you to insure your new kitten has a long and healthy life.”
Proper Veterinary Check Up Schedules
Regular visits to the vet are imperative in keeping up the well-being of your cat or dog. To keep your pet’s tail wagging, follow these guidelines for scheduling check ups.
For puppies and kittens up to year old, you should be visiting the vet every three to four weeks until he’s 16 weeks old. At six months, another check up will be conducted to ensure good health and proper socialization.
Growing dogs and cats, from one year old to approximately 10 years old, the rule-of-thumb is to visit the vet at least once a year for a physical checkup. Your pet may need vaccinations at about three-year increments, but consult your vet for proper timing of booster injections.
Once your pet hits senior age, after 10 years old, vets suggest twice-yearly checkups. Your pet’s health should be monitored more closely during this stage of life, and any odd behavior should be reported to your veterinarian.