How Often Do You Take Your Pets to the Vet?

A few weeks ago I started getting incessant reminders from my vet to bring in Walter (one of my two cats) for a checkup. While I often go too long between visits to my human doctor, my cats depend on me, so I try to stick with my veterinarian’s recommendations. So I scheduled a time last Thursday to bring in Walter.

However, after Thursday, I’m starting to wonder if it’s really a good idea for me to take my cats to the vet every year. I’m not saying that I should never give them a checkup; rather, I’m wondering if the stressed caused by the checkup is worth it.

Basically, Walter had the cat equivalent of a panic attack on the way to the vet and in the waiting room. He was hyperventilating and panting heavily, something I’ve only seen him do when going to the vet. He finally calmed down (see photo), but the stress caused by the trip seemed significant.

Walter is perfectly healthy, and he had a few shots and tests. I believe in the power of preventative health care–it’s better to catch something now and fix it instead of waiting until it gets really bad–but he’s an indoor cat with an easy life. Is it really worth the stress to take him to the vet every year? I’m leaning towards switching to an 18-month schedule instead.

What do you think? What’s your approach with your pets?

8 thoughts on “How Often Do You Take Your Pets to the Vet?”

  1. Poor Walter! I always take Penny and Margo for their yearly visit but since they turned 7 (Penny is 9 and Margo just made 7 in May), they are now considered senior dogs and the vet suggests that I take them every 6 months instead of once a year. That’s where I drew the line for Penny and Margo. It’s not that they are scared of going to the vet but they are both healthy, playful, and have a very relaxed lifestyle so as long as their yearly checkups come up without any issue, I don’t need the need to bring them every 6 months. Perhaps that will change as they get older but for right now, once a year seems perfectly fine.

  2. We board at the vet. We also take frequent rides so the vet isn’t the only trip. She doesn’t like going but is happy when it is only a quick visit.

  3. I think it’s always good to follow the quidelines set out with your vet. They can find the small signs that could be the beginnings of something more serious.

    One idea to help get a pet more used to the trip is to take them on random trips in the car. Start with just getting them into the car, then give them treats or food when you bring them back in. Lots of positive attention. Then work up to taking a short trip down the street and back. Repeat with food and attention. This can work get them car trained, although some older cats just wont get comfortable. But by starting this when they are young, and visits to the vet should (especially when it’s just a checkup and not when they are sick) should be a breeze.

    • Thanks for the idea, Josh! I’m hesitant to do that with Walter, as he’s never reacted well to being in the car. But I agree that your method has the potential of working.

  4. Well… I’ve been rescuing dogs for 30+ years, and I have extensive experience with an array of veterinary issues. I watch to make sure my animals are eating, drinking, eliminating, and acting normal. If one of those things is off, I see if they have a fever. If no fever, I watch and see if anything else changes or gets worse.

    My cats are indoor-only and are only exposed to dogs here. They got their kitten shots and nothing since. They’re 3 yrs old now, and I see no reason to take healthy kitties to a place where there are sick kitties. I’d rather titer test my cats to see if they’re immune to the big diseases than vaccinate them further. If the immunity is already present, then vaccines won’t work anyway.

    That said – I’m comfortable with my skills and knowledge. I once took my dog to the vet because another female dog was sniffing her lady parts in a very interested way. Turns out the sniffee had a UTI starting up. Caught that one before there were any outward symptoms.

    It’s a matter of what each person is comfortable with. I would like to know what the vet expects to do or find every 6 months that will change the course of anything you’re doing. I mean – unless there’s reason to believe there’s an issue for being at risk (like diabetes or other treatable issue) then I say save your time & money along with the cat’s stress.

  5. Hey Jamey, your cats depend on you so you need your check ups too 🙂 I have been hanging on some cat pages on FB, wonderful people, and horrible people, but I have been seeing that there is talk of that exact thing, 18 months, to save them the terror. Sara gave really good advice, as long as they are eating pooping peeing moving etc with clear skin and lots of fur, your indoor guys are probably fine. There is the point that an elderly cat needs more frequent visits, but again, is all well? Behavior is a big sign, if they start hiding, or wanting to be left alone they could be in pain, but if they are playing games and stealing bacon, you are probably cool.


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