How Scheduling Off-Peak Wellness Exams Benefits Your Pet and Your Vet

Do everyone a favor by bringing your pets in for routine exams during the colder — and less chaotic — months.

Warmer weather usually means busier veterinary clinics, so bring your pet for routine exams in the off-peak season. By: mtch3l

When is the best time to schedule your annual exam for your pet?

The second quarter of the year (April, May and June) is statistically the busiest 3 months for most veterinarians. The slowest time of the year tends to be October, November and December.

So unless you’re in a niche community, like a resort or snowbird town, the busiest time for most small animal vets, no matter the state or the weather, is springtime.

Wellness Exams in a Sea of Calm

If you book your pet’s annual wellness exam in off-peak season, you can get the appointment time of your choice with ease. Often, you can schedule the day before or day of your desired time when your vet isn’t so busy. In the busy months, you may have to wait a few weeks to get the time and doctor of your choice.

In off-peak season, the vet can spend more quality time with you and your pet. Your vet is less frazzled when her day is not filled with back-to-back appointments.

Why Spring Is Busy

Spring has always been the busiest time for small animal vets. This may be a holdover from when heartworm testing and prevention was a seasonal thing in many parts of the country. Today, you can get your annual heartworm test at any time of year and many vets give heartworm protection year-round.

Additionally, flea and tick prevention are also associated with spring and summer. You may notice more TV ads for Frontline and Advantage now, but these products can be purchased at any time of year, without your pet in tow. No need to wait for your annual appointment in April or May to buy or begin parasite prevention.

An veterinary exam in cooler-weather months can mean more personal attention for your pet. By: Austin Community College

The warmer months are always a busier time in general because pets get into more trouble, necessitating more vet visits for trauma and illness. Even without more annual appointments on the books, your vet is simply busier in the spring and summer stitching up wounds and stabilizing pets who played in traffic.

Spring also represents a kind of housecleaning mindset. Air out the house, dust under the bed and bring Doogan to the vet. Winter is done and summer fun isn’t in full swing yet, so people are in a get-it-done frame of mind. Simply, if go to the vet in winter or summer, you miss the spring barrage.

Winter Appointments

You might think it’s the winter weather that keeps people from scheduling their annual visit in the dark months, but there’s more to it than that.

The slowest quarter — October, November and December — actually have to do with that crazy mindset of “the holidays.” I think it would be great for all of us to get our minds off the wacky anxiety caused by the winter holidays and go about our business. So forget about Thanksgiving dinner or present shopping — and bring that pet to the vet!

Can you guess what this dog’s favorite season is?:

Changing the Time of Your Annual Exam

Is it possible to reschedule your pet’s exam? Sure — just call your vet’s office. The receptionist can check on when vaccines are due and tweak the schedule to your liking. Rabies is the only vaccine where the date matters — you don’t want to let that expire. Other vaccines are not that time-sensitive.

Your pet’s wellness exam is important. A more relaxed atmosphere at the vet can make this a better and more successful experience all around.

Remember to make a list of concerns you have about your pet and reveal these to the receptionist when you make your appointment. We want to know ahead of time that Buffy has had goopy poops for several months or Wondercat’s vomiting has been on the rise.

Above all, thanks to all you great people for keeping up with your pets’ wellness exams, whenever they occur.


This pet health content was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD. It was last reviewed June 21, 2017.

Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD

View posts by Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD
Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD, is a small animal and exotics veterinarian who has split her time between a veterinary practice in Pelham, Massachusetts, and her studio in New York City. Dr. Lichtenberg is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine with 30 years of experience. Her special interests are soft tissue surgery and oncology.

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