If you've just become a proud new puppy owner, you need to start them on the right track, when it comes to their health. Our San Jose vets are here to tell you what to expect for the first vet checkup.
When to Take a Puppy to the Vet for the First Time
Many puppy shelters and breeders start vet visits for puppies before you are allowed to take your puppy home. You should be given detailed paperwork that clearly states what veterinary care your puppy has received and when as well as when you should schedule your puppy’s next veterinary visit.
No matter what veterinary work has been done prior to bringing your puppy home, 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.
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
- Any veterinary records you received from the breeder or shelter
- Leash and collar or harness
- Small treats to reward good behavior
- Dog carrier or crate lined with some old towels
- A written list of important questions
- Chew toy for distraction
- 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
Many puppies may feel more comfortable in the car if they travel in a crate. Your puppy's safety is always a top priority, so don't assume they will sit comfortably in your arms with all the new sites and smells going on around them. 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:
- Dental care
- Grooming needs
- Behavior and socialization
- Flea, tick, heartworm, and internal parasite control
- Vaccination schedules
- Exercise and play requirements
- 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
Before your appointment is complete, you should have been given all of the information that you need to help your puppy thrive. This being said, take a look at the lists above to ensure that you know all of the information that you are supposed to get and never hesitate to ask your vet if you don't have all the answers you need.