Advice From a Vet: Taking Your Dog to the Vet

by Angela Hickey | 3 min read August 12th, 2020


A good relationship with a vet is well worth developing in the early days of your pet’s life. They will support you in keeping your dog as healthy as possible throughout their life.

Choosing a Vet

Use vets’ websites in your area, as well word of mouth recommendations, to weigh up your options.

When you choose a practice, go and visit it with your dog while they are well and happy so that they will have no negative associations with the first visit! The vet nurse on duty will often weigh your dog and give him a treat and interact in a friendly way to help him feel at ease there. You can then register and arrange for a health check, vaccinations etc.

Preparing Your Pet for the Vet

It’s a great idea to make your pet comfortable about being handled as early as possible in their lives. When grooming your dog, practice examining their paws and claws, ear canals, and teeth; clean their eyes and bottoms; check their skin for parasites, and so on. Reward and praise your dog to encourage them to cooperate, but don’t force them if they resist. Little and often is the best policy. If they are at ease with the actions at home, it can make vet examinations much less stressful for them.

How Often Should You Visit the Vet?

  •  Puppy stage: After initial puppy visits for vaccines and worming, your vet will usually arrange a developmental check at 6 months old. This is when neutering, behavioural issues, diet and general health will be discussed.
  • While Healthy: As long as your pet is healthy, most owners then visit once a year for a general health check and vaccinations. As the average lifespan of a dog is 12 years, a vet check-up once a year is equivalent to a human seeing a doctor once every 7 years! These health checks and screenings are important for and to catch diseases in the early stages,
  •  When Aging: After the middle age years of 4 to 6, your dog will need a check up at least twice a year.
  • When Unwell: If your dog develops a chronic disease such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease etc. frequent visits to monitor their condition and adjust treatments may be necessary.

When to Seek Vet Treatment

Our pets depend on us to notice when they are out of sorts: off their food, having difficulty moving, less active etc. A phone call to your vet may be enough to reassure you. If symptoms last more than 24 hours, or you notice any deterioration, it is always safer to arrange a consultation and have your dog checked in person.

Dogs may instinctively hide their symptoms and stay away from you when unwell or in pain so be watchful and don’t delay in seeking advice. Take note of the frequency and duration of symptoms so that you can give the vet vital information to help with a diagnosis.


Your vet may need to refer your dog’s case to a specialist for a second opinion or a specialist procedure, e.g. orthopaedic, eye, skin, heart, MRI, etc. Or, you may be advised to visit a different vet than usual in an emergency or ‘out of hours’ situation. In both scenarios, they will send their clinical notes and recommendations to your own vet so that they can follow up on treatment.

Remember, you will always have the right to request a referral or second opinion if you feel unhappy with the treatment your vet is recommending.

Anticipating Vet Costs

Paying for regular check ups, preventative vaccines and parasite treatments, regular dental care etc. keeps your pet well and happy and avoids many treatment costs. However accidents and illnesses will inevitably happen, often when least expected, so it is very worthwhile to have good, lifelong pet insurance in place.

This takes away the worry regarding the cost of visits to the vet and any treatment recommended and allows you to make maximum use of your vet’s expertise in caring for your pet.


To learn about Allianz Pet Insurance, click here.

Allianz p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Standard acceptance criteria and policy conditions apply.

This guidance is for general information purposes only. Allianz accepts no responsibility or liability for any losses that may arise from any reliance upon the information contained in this guidance.


Angela Hickey
Allianz in-house vet and qualified psychotherapist.