If you're a new puppy parent, our Los Angeles County veterinarians will guide you through everything you need to know for a successful first vet visit. Get ready with a comprehensive puppy first vet visit checklist.
When should you take your puppy for its first vet visit?
When you bring home your new puppy, it's important to schedule their first visit to the vet within a few days. During this visit, the vet will review their records, conduct a physical exam, and check for any potential health concerns.
As your puppy grows, they will typically have appointments every 3-4 weeks starting at 6-8 weeks old, and these appointments will continue until they are 4-5 months old.
First vaccinations are usually administered at 6-8 weeks old. If your puppy is older than 4-5 months, they can still receive vaccinations in two visits that are spaced 3-4 weeks apart.
Your vet may adjust the vaccination plan based on your puppy's individual 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
- A written list of important questions
- Notes on how much of what types of foods and treats you have
- Dog carrier or crate 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
Transporting small puppies in a crate is advisable as it provides them with more comfort and safety. One should not presume that holding the puppy in their arms is a viable option when the puppy is exposed to unfamiliar surroundings, sounds, and smells at the clinic. Bringing a leash or harness to manage the puppy's anxiety levels is crucial.
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
- 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 veterinarian will give you all the necessary information to take care of your puppy, but reviewing the key topics is important. Don't hesitate to ask if you have any doubts or need clarification.