Last year, we posted a blog about the importance of scheduling checkups for your pets and what to expect when taking an adult pet to the vet.

This year, we want to address other parts of the pet checkup process.

  • How often should your pet get a checkup?
  • What should you expect at a checkup for newborn and senior pets?

How often a pet needs a checkup depends on their age, according to the Veterinary Centers of America (VCA).

However, there is a general guideline that you can follow in order to ensure your pet is getting the care they need.

Ages 1 – 6 Months

Puppies and kittens should be seen once every month until they are between 4 and 6 months old. This is because your veterinarian will want to make sure that your pet is developing correctly and keeping healthy.

During these monthly visits, you can expect your newborn pup to get a series of vaccinations, including

  • Distemper,
  • Hepatitis,
  • Leptospirosis,
  • Parainfluenza,
  • Parvo, and
  • Rabies.

Your vet may also discuss optional vaccines. For dogs, some vaccines may be used to treat Bordetella (kennel cough) and canine influenza. As there have been multiple outbreaks of canine influenza in southeast Michigan, we recommend getting the vaccine.

Your kitten will also be given a set of vaccinations during their monthly checkup, which can include

  • Calicivirus,
  • Panleukopenia (also known as Feline Distemper),
  • Rabies, and
  • Rhinotracheitis.

You will work with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate schedule for your pet to get these shots and discuss whether or not to spay or neuter your pet. (Due to pet overpopulation we recommend that you do. For more information on spaying and neutering, you can check out our blog.)

Ages 1 – 9 Years

Dogs and cats are considered “adults,” as opposed to newborns, around the age of one.

Usually pets have or are very close to reaching their full size and normal weight at the beginning of adulthood, however some pets may take up to 18 months.

Once your pet has stopped growing, it is a good idea to take them into the vet. This is so your vet knows their normal height and weight, and can keep records if

  • Your pet loses or gains weight,
  • Your pet is lost or stolen, and/or
  • Your records become lost.

As adults, your pet should be getting an annual checkup. For more on what to expect at a checkup, click here.

Ages 10 and Up

After 10 years, a pet is considered a “senior.”

As a senior, your pet should be receiving biannual checkups. This is because older pets tend to have more problems with

  • Mobility,
  • Eyesight and hearing,
  • Bladder control, and
  • Self-grooming.

At senior checkups, in additional to the regular head to paws examination, your veterinarian may decide to perform a diagnostic test. In a diagnostic test, the vet will look at

  • Blood tests (including blood pressure),
  • Chest radiographs, and
  • Fecal tests.

These tests will help your vet to diagnose any serious problems and suggest any adjustments that need to be made to a pet’s eating, exercise, or grooming routines.

If you feel like this timeline does not fit the individual needs of your pet, the VCA suggests asking your veterinarian how often your pet should have a checkup.

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