How Often Should I Take My Guide Dog to the Vet?

According to a recent 2021 statistic from the International Guide Dog Foundation, the professional organization and standard-setter for guide dog organizations with 97 member organizations around the world, there are approximately 22,939 guide dogs currently assisting people around the globe. After all, guide dogs are truly amazing beings that help to empower individuals who are blind, have low vision, or other disabilities to have more independence, mobility, and dignity in their lives. Or, as we like to say, to help them Live Without Boundaries®. Not to mention that service dogs and other assistance dogs can also help people who are deaf, have PTSD or other physical, emotional, or non-apparent disabilities. In fact, these dogs are bred and trained especially for these tasks. With all the help guide and service dogs provide to keep people safe and healthy, we must do the same to them, particularly knowing when to take your guide or service dog to the vet.

Regular Check-Ups

Guide dogs are working dogs, and like any dog, it’s recommended that they go to the vet at least once a year for an annual check-up. An annual check-up normally consists of a wellness exam, in which a physical is conducted. In addition, the vet will document your dog’s physical growth and mention any concerns about their health. Of course, the vet will also give you an update on any vaccinations or medications for which your guide dog is due. It’s important to note that if your guide dog is 8 years or older, then they should go to the vet for a check-up semiannually because they are more prone to injuries and illnesses. This shouldn’t look too different from the care you’ve provided for any other dogs previously.

Medical Emergencies

As mentioned earlier, guide dogs are specially bred and trained from birth to safely aid people who are blind or have low vision. We all know how important it is to keep guide dogs and their owners safe. That’s why there is a specific assistance dog etiquette that must be followed at all times. Even though guide dogs are some of the best trained dogs in the world, scary situations can still arise.

If your guide dog shows signs of pain like limping, shaking, or panting for a long duration of time, then it’s recommended that you take your dog to the vet immediately. Similarly, if your dog eats something that is poisonous, you should immediately take your dog to the nearest emergency veterinary facility. Likewise, if you feel any bumps or tumors on your dog, it’s time for a vet visit as well.

In general, if you feel like your guide dog is not acting like itself for a long period of time, then you should take them to the vet out of an abundance of caution. Make sure you check out our dog emergency procedures for additional information on the steps you need to take when you bring your guide dog to the vet for an emergency visit.

It’s no surprise that vet visits can be costly, and while it’s necessary to understand how dog insurance works to keep your other dogs’ bills at a manageable level, the Guide Dog Foundation has a veterinary financial assistance program that can help cover the cost of medical emergencies associated with your guide dog. Not only that, but we also provide a lifetime of aftercare support, offer a $200 stipend for veterinary care, discounted heartworm preventatives, discounted flea and tick preventatives along with other program support. This way, if something serious does happen to your guide dog, you can rest assured knowing that they will receive proper care without you having to bear the financial hardship of it. After all, the only thing you should be focusing on when any of your guide or service dogs get sick or injured is their health and well-being.

Overall, your guide dog should go to the vet once or twice a year, unless an emergency situation arises. On top of being loving, they empower people who are blind or have low vision to have greater independence and mobility. They help allow people to cross the street, travel, and live more freely on a regular basis. For all they do for us, we need to make sure we do the same for them and help keep them healthy.