Are you a proud parent of a new puppy? Our Zeeland vets can help you learn everything you'll need to 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 breeders and puppy shelters take their puppies to the vet for the first time before they hand their little ones to new pet parents. You should receive paperwork that clearly lists which type of care has already been provided when that occurred, and when you should book your puppy's next veterinary visit.
That said, regardless of what's already been done when your puppy was in the care of a shelter or breeder, it's always a good idea to schedule a new puppy vet visit within a few days of bringing your canine companion home. This will allow your vet to review your puppy's records and quickly provide any overdue care.
The veterinarian will also perform a comprehensive physical examination and potentially perform some laboratory tests to identify any potential health concerns. It's best to learn about health issues as soon as possible before any health guarantees provided by the breeder expire.
Puppies should typically attend veterinary appointments every 3 to 4 weeks starting when they are 6 to 8 weeks old and ending when they are 4 to 5 months old.
For most puppies, vaccinations should start sometime in the 6 to 8 week timeframe. Puppies who receive their first vaccinations when they are older than 4 to 5 months of age can usually be caught up in two visits scheduled 3 to 4 weeks apart. Your vet may change this plan based on your puppy's specific history and requirements.
Before your appointment, we recommend collecting as much information as possible about your puppy's health.
Puppy’s First Vet Visit Checklist
- Any veterinary records provided by the breeder or shelter
- List of important questions
- Notes on how much and what types of foods and treats you've been feeding your puppy, or any that you have questions about
- Dog crate or carrier 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: A Checklist
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)
How much will my puppy's first vet visit cost?
The cost of your puppy's first appointment with the vet may vary depending on the type of care they need. If during the exam the veterinarian identifies dental health issues, parasites or an illness that needs treatment, your new pet will likely need diagnostics and treatment. Your vet can provide you a cost estimate, treatment options and recommendations before starting any treatment.
What to Ask on Your First Puppy Vet Visit
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.