Taking your dog to the vet for routine checkups should be a normal part of caring for them.
Not only does this help ensure that your pooch is healthy and where they should be, but it also gives you the opportunity to catch anything that is happening early, which is the best outcome for your dog.
There is no doubt that vets receive a lot of questions from dog owners. You may have even asked a ton of them yourself. Here are a few common questions dog owners ask vets:
1. When Should I Spay/Neuter My Puppy?
The most commonly recommended time to spay/neuter a puppy is when they are 6 months old. Shelters often spay or neuter puppies earlier as the goal is to sterilize them before they reach sexual maturity, but 6 months tends to be the general practice.
It’s also important to talk to your vet about what’s best for your puppy. Although the general practice is to spay/neuter around 6 months of age, there is some research that shows some advantages to waiting a little longer in certain dog breeds.
2. Does My Puppy Really Need All of These Vaccinations?
Yes. Your puppy really does need all of the recommended vaccines and on the recommended schedule as well. The standard vaccines for puppies are safe, effective, and necessary to protect them from exposure to harmful and potentially fatal diseases. It’s also important to complete the entire series of a vaccine to ensure your puppy is fully protected.
In many cases, your pooch will not be fully protected until they have received the full series of vaccines. For example, parvo is a common disease that spreads easily. Although a fully vaccinated mother can help protect younger puppies under 6 weeks of age, puppies are at-risk after that point until they have completed their parvo vaccination series, which is usually around 6 months of age.
3. Do I Really Need to Use Flea, Tick, and Parasite Protection?
Regular flea and tick protection is recommended, but can sometimes be optional depending on what part of the country you live in. In some areas, the presence of fleas and ticks is low, so the risk is low as well.
However, if you live in a wooded or grassy area and/or in a part of the country where fleas and ticks are prominent, you should be using flea and tick protection year-round to ensure your dog is protected before flea and tick season arrives.
As for parasite protection, like heartworm medication, it’s important to stay up-to-date. This is especially important in areas with a large mosquito population because mosquitos spread heartworms. In these areas, heartworm disease is endemic and it is essential for your dog to remain protected against it at all times.
Oftentimes, you can get a preventive that protects against multiple parasites like heartworm in addition to hookworms and roundworms. Some of them even include flea protection! Talk to your vet about what is most important for your area and which preventive is the best choice for your pup. Then, keep a record and stay on schedule to make sure your dog is properly protected.
4. Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?
Absolutely! Painful dental disease, like gum disease, is one of the most common health issues in dogs over 3 years old. Just like in humans, if you don’t take care of your dog’s teeth, it can cause a lot of issues over time.
Ideal dental care for dogs includes brushing their teeth or using an enzyme toothpaste every day. This helps prevent the tartar and plaque buildup that leads to gum disease and tooth decay. Also, some dog breeds, especially smaller dogs, are more prone to developing dental disease than others.
Gum disease in dogs can affect their long-term health, so good dental care is essential to your dog’s overall health and happiness. You can also talk to your vet about using dental hygiene chews or creating a “dental care diet” to help supplement your efforts. Not only will your dog’s mouth be healthier with good dental care, but their breath will tend to smell a lot better too!
5. How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?
The recommended bathing frequency will depend on your dog’s breed, coat type, skin, and more. Many dog breeds only require a bath occasionally if they get dirty or after they’ve gone swimming. For some dogs, this means they only get a couple of baths a year! There are also some dog breeds that are more high maintenance and require full professional grooming once a month for their coat to stay healthy.
Breed-specific requirements aside, as long as your dog does not have a skin condition, they shouldn’t need a bath more than once a month. Bathing your dog more often, especially more than once a week, will often cause skin irritation like dry skin, itchy skin, redness, and more. You will want to talk to your vet about what is best for your dog, especially if they have a skin condition, and make sure you are using dog-friendly products during bathtime.
These are just a few common questions dog owners ask vets, but, rest assured, there are many more. Caring for a dog, especially as a first-time dog owner, can have a lot of unknowns. It’s important to have a vet you can trust and one who is open to your questions. After all, it should be about what’s best for your dog – asking questions and getting the answers you need are an important part of that.