When to Take a Puppy to the Vet for the First Time
Many puppy breeders and shelters bring their puppies in for vet visits before they release their little ones to their new pet parents. You should receive paperwork that clearly states what kind of care has already been provided, when it occurred, and when you should book your puppy's next veterinary visit.
However, regardless of what the breeder or shelter has already done, it's always a good idea to schedule your puppy's first vet checkup within a few days of picking up your new four-legged friend. This will allow the vet to review your puppy's records and quickly provide any overdue care.
The veterinarian will also conduct a thorough physical examination and potentially run some laboratory tests to identify any potential health concerns. It's best to have any problems detected 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 have their first 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 timeframe depending on your puppy's individual needs, health history, and status.
Before your appointment, we recommend collecting as much information as possible.
Puppy's First Vet Visit Checklist
Whether you're bringing a puppy or kitten in for their first vet visit, the list of items you should bring is similar for each. Your list might include:
- Any veterinary records you received from the shelter or breeder
- Any forms provided by your vet that you've already filled out
- Written list of important questions
- Notes on what types of foods and treats you have
- Dog carrier or crate lined with old towels
- Chew toy for distraction
- Collar and leash or harness
- Small treats to reward good behavior
- A stool sample (as fresh as possible)
Small puppies will be more comfortable and safer if they travel in a crate. Puppies tend to get excited when they experience all the new sounds, smells, and sights at a vet clinic - do not assume you'll be able to hold your pup in your arms during that first time in the waiting room. It's important to bring a leash or harness to control your dog in case they are feeling stressed.
What to Expect During Your Puppy's First Vet Visit
Veterinary staff will first ask you a series of questions about your puppy's history and how they are doing at home, followed by:
- Watching your puppy move around the exam room
- A weight check
- Checking the entire body, including the eyes, ears, nose, feet, skin, coat, nails, 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.
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.