If you’re the proud pet parent of a new puppy, our Natick 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.
But regardless of what the shelter or breeder has already done, it is always a good idea to schedule a new puppy vet visit within a few days of picking up your new canine companion. This will allow the vet to review your puppy’s records and quickly provide any overdue care.
The doctor will also perform a complete physical examination and perhaps run some laboratory tests to identify any potential health concerns. It’s best to learn about problems as soon as possible before any health guarantees the breeder provides 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
Small puppies will be more comfortable and safer if they travel in a crate. Do not assume that you will be able to hold your puppy in your arms when they experience all the new sights, sounds, and smells at the clinic. It is important to bring a harness or leash to control your dog if they are feeling stressed.
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
Your vet should provide you with all the information that you need to help your puppy thrive, but look over the topics listed above. If your vet forgot to talk about something or the information they provided was confusing, don’t hesitate more questions.