How often should pets visit the vet? - Dr. Marty Becker


How often should pets visit the vet?

Monday, Mar 9th, 2020 | By Dr. Marty Becker

White cat with two colored eyes being examined by a veterinarian

Is “bring your pet to see the vet every year” the kind of good advice you tend to ignore? This may help you understand why I recommend an annual visit for healthy pets.

Q: My 5-year-old cat is in good health and up-to-date on her vaccinations. She’s never had any health problems. Does she really need to see the veterinarian every year?

A: If your pet is healthy and in good condition, you may think it’s OK to skip annual veterinary exams, but a yearly look-see from your pet’s veterinarian is an essential part of keeping her healthy. Annual exams help ensure that disease doesn’t sneak up on you and adversely affect your cat’s health before you realize a problem has developed — and I can guarantee that your cat’s not going to tell you about it.

Annual examinations (or twice-yearly for senior pets) are the foundation of preventive care. They can prolong your cat’s life when your veterinarian discovers a problem early so that it can be treated before it becomes serious — and expensive!

You may even save money if you and your veterinarian team up to prevent health problems by ensuring that your cat (or dog) gets the right amount of food and exercise to prevent or reverse obesity, for instance.

I believe that young or adult pets need at least one wellness check annually, and seniors benefit from twice-yearly checkups. Because pets age at different rates (large dogs age most rapidly; cats and small dogs, more slowly), exactly when those twice-yearly exams begin depends on the individual animal.

I’ve been a veterinarian for close to four decades now, and I don’t know how many times I’ve had to give someone the worst news possible about a pet, knowing that if I’d had a chance to catch and treat a medical issue earlier, I could have saved the pet.

The bottom line? Don’t skip that yearly visit. You’ll be doing your cat — and your wallet — a big favor.

There’s more in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.