It's an exciting time when you bring home a new puppy. Here, our Bakersfield vets share some information on what to expect during your puppy's first vet visit and offer a checklist so you don't miss anything!
Taking Your Puppy in For Their First Vet Visit
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 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.
Checklist of Things to Bring to Your Puppy's First Vet Visit
- Any veterinary records you received from the breeder or shelter
- A 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. Please 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 You Can Expect While at 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)
Things to Ask Your Vet at Your Puppy's Visit
While your vet should go over everything that you need to know, there may be some topics that were missed or that you may still want to ask, such as:
- What is the best food for my growing puppy?
- How often should I feed my puppy?
- When do puppies switch to adult dog food?
Socialization, Behavior, and Training
- Is crate training recommended?
- How easy is it to potty train a puppy?
- Will my puppy need lots of exercise?
- Can I begin to socialize my puppy with other people and pets?
General Health & Safety
- When should I bring my puppy in for routine vet visits?
- Why is it important to vaccinate my puppy?
- When should I spay or neuter my puppy?
- Will my puppy need parasite prevention?
- Should I look into pet insurance or wellness plans?
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.