Routine veterinary care forms the foundation of your pet’s healthy lifestyle, and is one of the most important necessities you can provide. More than a physical exam, routine veterinary care builds your pet’s immunity, protects her from deadly diseases, prevents parasitic infections, and allows us to detect health problems early.

You may question how often your pet needs to visit Mill Creek Veterinary Hospital for routine health care, and the answer depends on many factors. Is your pet a newly adopted puppy or kitten, or an adult? Is your pet reaching her senior years, when health problems may crop up more frequently? Or, is your pet showing illness signs between normally scheduled visits? These scenarios all warrant a different visit schedule—let’s check out each one.

How often should my puppy or kitten visit the veterinarian?

New puppies and kittens require the most frequent veterinary visits, as we help them build critical disease immunity, fight off parasites, and develop a strong foundation for future health. Puppy and kitten visits are typically scheduled three to four weeks apart, until they are about 4 months old, and should include appointments at the approximate following ages:

  • 6 weeks — At your new pet’s first veterinary appointment, we will examine her thoroughly, to ensure she is free of congenital abnormalities and illness signs. We will administer her first vaccines to protect against life-threatening diseases, as her maternal immunity begins to wear off. We will also prescribe medication to eliminate intestinal roundworms commonly passed from the mother, and perform a fecal analysis, to screen for additional intestinal parasites.
  • 10 weeks — During your puppy or kitten’s second veterinary visit, we will administer booster vaccines, to help her form long-term immunity. We will also perform another fecal analysis, to ensure she has eliminated any roundworms, and is parasite-free. At this age, we will also discuss starting life-long heartworm, flea, and tick prevention.
  • 14 weeks — During your puppy or kitten’s third veterinary visit, we will again administer booster vaccines, to help her develop adequate immunity, as her maternal protection continues to wear off. We will likely also administer a rabies vaccine.
  • 18 weeks — At your pet’s last puppy or kitten visit, we will administer her final booster vaccines, until she visits us as an adult one year later. We will also discuss the appropriate time for her to be spayed, or neutered, if your pet is a male. 

If your new pet is an adult, she should still visit our veterinary hospital during her first week in your home, so we can perform a thorough exam, screen for parasites, and determine whether she needs vaccines. 

How often should my adult pet visit the veterinarian?

From 1 to 8 years of age, your adult pet should visit our hospital once a year for her annual wellness appointment, when we will perform a thorough physical exam, to check for disease signs. Your pet’s annual exam is like you visiting your physician only once every five to seven years, since pets age faster than people, so your pet’s health can change drastically in a year, and keeping her annual wellness appointment is critical. During your pet’s appointment, we will also administer booster vaccines, screen for parasites, and assess her oral health, to determine whether a dental cleaning is in order. 

How often should my senior pet visit the veterinarian?

Once your pet reaches 8 years of age, her wellness visits should increase to every six months. Unfortunately, as pets age, diseases are more likely to develop, and detecting disease signs early is critical for successful treatment. In addition to your pet’s comprehensive physical exam, we will perform blood work, to evaluate her organ function, and overall health. Blood work often allows us to detect diseases much earlier than a physical exam, since some conditions, such as kidney failure, heart disease, and cancer, typically cause no obvious clinical signs until they are advanced, and treatment cannot help. Early detection allows us to begin treatment sooner, which may provide a cure, or slow progression, and improve your pet’s quality of life.

When should my sick pet visit the veterinarian?

In addition to wellness visits, your pet needs to visit Mill Creek Veterinary Hospital any time she develops illness signs, such as:

  • Mild to moderate vomiting or diarrhea, for longer than 24 hours without improvement
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea, with several episodes in one day 
  • Lethargy, or tiring easily
  • Decreased appetite
  • Coughing, sneezing, or nasal discharge
  • Straining to urinate
  • Increased urine frequency or volume
  • Urine containing blood
  • Limping or lameness
  • Pain
  • Disorientation or stumbling
  • Ocular discharge or redness
  • Seizures 
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Changes in behavior or personality

Any time your pet is not acting like herself, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Quick action can improve treatment success, especially in situations, such as toxin ingestion, you may not realize are emergencies. 

Has your pet visited our hospital lately? If she is behind on routine veterinary care, or her annual appointment date is approaching, call us to schedule an appointment.