If you've recently welcomed a new puppy and it's time for their first vet visit, you likely have many questions. Today, our Stanwood vets will provide you with a checklist and explain what to expect when you bring your puppy in for their initial vet appointment.
When to Take a Puppy to the Vet for the First Time
Many puppy shelters and breeders initiate vet visits for puppies before releasing them to new pet parents. You will receive paperwork stating the type of care provided and the timing of these visits. Additionally, it outlines when you should schedule your puppy's next veterinary appointment.
Regardless of the previous care provided by the shelter or breeder, it's always a good idea to schedule a new puppy vet visit within a few days of picking up your new canine companion. This allows the vet to review your puppy's records and promptly address any overdue care.
The vet will also conduct a comprehensive physical examination and may run some laboratory tests to identify potential health concerns. Detecting issues early is crucial before any health guarantees from the breeder expire.
A typical puppy vet schedule involves appointments every 3 to 4 weeks, starting when the puppies are 6 to 8 weeks old and ending when they reach 4 or 5 months.
Most puppies commence their vaccinations at 6 to 8 weeks old.
If puppies receive their first vaccinations after 4 or 5 months of age, they can usually catch up with two visits scheduled 3 to 4 weeks apart. Your vet may adjust this plan based on your puppy's specific history and needs.
Before your appointment, ensure you gather as much information as possible.
Puppy's First Vet Visit Checklist
- Leash and collar or harness
- Chew toy for distraction
- Small treats to reward good behavior
- Dog carrier or crate lined with some old towels
- 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
- 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 traveling 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
- Watching your 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 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.
- 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 necessary information to help your puppy thrive. However, review the topics listed above. If your vet forgot to address something or the information they provided was confusing, do not hesitate to ask more questions.