Are you the proud owner of a new puppy? Today, our Echo Park vets explain when it is time to bring your puppy to the vet for a checkup, as well as what you can expect, and what you should bring with you.
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 stating the care your pup has already received, and when you should schedule your puppy’s first 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
When your puppy has their first vet visit coming up, you want to be prepared by bringing the following things with you:
- Leash and collar/harness
- Chew toy for distraction
- Small treats
- Any filled-out forms (provided by vet)
- A stool sample, as fresh as possible
- Veterinary records
- Written questions about your pup
- Notes on diet & eating habits
- Dog carrier/crate lined with some old towels
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:
- Behavior and socialization
- Pet identification, including microchips and tags
- Reproductive health
- Travel requirements
- Pet safety and disaster preparedness
- Zoonotic diseases
- Dental care
- Grooming needs
- Flea, tick, heartworm, and internal parasite control
- Vaccination schedules
- Exercise and play requirements
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.