If you’re the proud pet parent of a new puppy, our Sharpsburg vets will tell you everything you should know about what to do to prepare for your puppy's first visit and what will happen when you take your puppy to its first vet visit.
When to Take a Puppy to the Vet for the First Time
Many puppy shelters and breeders start vet visits for puppies before they release their little ones to new pet parents. You should receive paperwork that clearly states what type of care has already been provided when that occurred, and when you should schedule your puppy’s next veterinary visit.
However, it is always a good idea to schedule a new puppy vet visit within a few days of picking up your new canine companion, regardless of what the shelter or breeder has already done. The veterinarian will be able to quickly administer any overdue care after reviewing your puppy's medical history.
In order to find any potential health issues, the doctor will also conduct a thorough physical examination and perhaps order some laboratory tests. It is best to find out about issues as soon as they arise, before any health guarantees offered by the breeder expire.
A typical vet schedule for puppies is for appointments to occur every 3 to 4 weeks starting when puppies are 6 to 8 weeks old and ending when they are 4 or 5 months old.
Most puppies start their vaccinations when they are 6 to 8 weeks old.
Puppies who receive their first vaccinations when they are older than 4 or 5 months of age can usually be caught up in two visits scheduled 3 to 4 weeks apart. Your vet may adjust this plan based on your puppy’s particular history and needs.
Before your appointment, you should collect as much information as possible.
Puppy’s First Vet Visit Checklist
- Any veterinary records you received from the breeder or shelter
- Written list of important questions
- Notes on how much of what types of foods and treats you have
- Dog carrier or crate lined with some old towels
- Leash and collar or harness
- Chew toy for distraction
- Small treats to reward good behavior
- Any forms provided by your vet that you have already filled out
- A stool sample, as fresh as possible
If they travel in a crate, small puppies will feel safer and more at ease. Never assume that you will be able to hold your puppy in your arms as they explore the clinic's unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells. Bring a leash or harness so you can control your dog if they become anxious.
What to Expect During Your Puppy’s First Vet Visit
Veterinary staff will start the visit by asking you a series of questions about your puppy’s history and how they are doing at home, followed by:
- A weight check
- A complete physical examination, which includes
- Observing the puppy move around the exam room
- Looking at the whole body including the eyes, ears, nose, feet, nails, skin, coat, and genitalia
- Using a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs
- Checking reflexes
- Measuring temperature and pulse and respiratory
- Opening the mouth to check out the teeth, gums, and other structures
- Checking the eyes and ears
- Palpating the lymph nodes, joints, and organs within the abdomen
Throughout all the new puppy vet visits, the veterinary staff will discuss many important aspects of puppy care with you including
- Dental care
- Grooming needs
- Flea, tick, heartworm, and internal parasite control
- Vaccination schedules
- Exercise and play requirements
- Behavior and socialization
- Pet identification, including microchips and tags
- Reproductive health, including the benefits and risks of spaying and neutering
- Travel requirements
- Pet safety and disaster preparedness
- Diseases that can be spread from pets to people (and vice versa)
Questions to Ask the Veterinarian
However, take a look at the topics listed above. Your veterinarian should give you all the information you require to ensure your puppy's health. Never be afraid to ask more questions if your veterinarian left something out or their explanation was unclear.