Your new puppy is finally home with you and you've got all the essentials. Now you need to book your new puppy's first vet appointment. Our Santa Barbara veterinarians explain what to expect and what to bring to your first appointment.
What Happens During the First Vet Visit?
During your puppy's first visit, a veterinarian should do the following:
- Weigh your puppy
- Listen to their heart and lungs
- Take your puppy's temperature
- Examine their eyes, ears, nose, feet, and genitalia
- Examine their skin and coat
- Look at the puppy's teeth and mouth
- Palpate abdomen and lymph nodes
- Examine the feces for the presence of worms (bring a stool sample if you can)
- Discuss the puppy’s history and any questions you might have about feeding, medical issues, and future care
If you are going home with medications or treatments, make sure that you understand when and how they are to be given. Follow directions to the letter, and set up a schedule for follow-up visits and vaccinations.
What Should I Bring to the First Vet Visit?
If possible, try to bring the following items to your puppy's first veterinary appointment. The more information the vet has, the better they will be able to treat your puppy.
- Any veterinary records you received from the breeder or shelter
- A written list of important questions or concerns that you might have
- Notes on how much of what types of foods and treats you offer at home
- A dog carrier or crate lined with some old towels or shirts that smell like home
- A leash and collar or harness
- A chew toy for distraction
- Small treats to reward good behavior
- Any forms provided by your veterinarian that you have already filled out
- A stool sample, as fresh as possible
Note that small puppies will be more comfortable and safe in a crate. Don't expect to be able to carry a wiggly puppy in your arms when visiting the clinic. Puppies must be kept under control at all times using a leash and collar or harness. This is why a chew toy or some treats are a good idea.
What Should I Ask the Vet During the Puppy's First Visit?
Your veterinarian should be able to give you all of the information you require to help your puppy grow. Based on the information above, if you have any questions that you believe they have overlooked, or if the information they have supplied is confusing, don't hesitate to ask for clarification.
Having said that, a list of questions can help make the most out of your first visit. Here is a list of some good questions to ask your vet during the visit.
Health & Safety
- How often does my puppy need to come to the vet?
- When should I spay or neuter my puppy?
- Should I microchip my dog?
- How many times a day should my puppy poop?
- Are there any health concerns specific to my puppy’s breed(s)?
- Does my puppy need flea and tick prevention?
- What is heartworm disease and why is prevention important?
Training & Behavior
- When can my puppy go to the pet store/dog park/groomer?
- Do you recommend crate training?
- How long can she stay in her crate?
- How do you potty train a puppy?
- How much exercise does my puppy need?
- How do I socialize my puppy with other humans and dogs?
- Do you know any local trainers?
- What should my puppy eat?
- How many times a day should my puppy eat?
- When do puppies switch to adult dog food?
How Much Will My Puppy's First Vet Visit Cost?
The majority of what happens during a puppy's first vet appointment is routine, but costs can be determined by a variety of factors like location, vaccines, and prescribed medications. Vaccination clinics and pet insurance can all help you save money. You can contact your vet directly for a more precise quote so there are no nasty surprises.