Your puppy's first veterinary visit

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Your puppy's first veterinary visit is just as much about educating yourself and answering your questions as it is about checking the health of your new puppy. Dr. Katy Nelson covers what you need to bring, the vaccines and de-worming procedures your dog will need, as well as when boosters are due, and emergency signs that indicate your dog may need immediate care.

Your puppy's first veterinary visit Your puppy’s first veterinary visit is just as much about educating yourself and answering your questions as it is about checking the health of your new puppy. Prepare the following before your first visit:
  1. The puppy's approximate birth day and a list of what vaccinations he has already gotten from the breeder or shelter. It's important to bring all of your paperwork with you to your first veterinarian visit so they can help you determine a schedule for completing immunizations, and determine when it's best to schedule spaying and neutering.
  2. A fresh stool sample so the veterinarian can check for parasites.
  3. A list of questions from you and your family.
  • Once you're prepared, bring your puppy's crate to the car, and do your best to secure it with available seat belts. Then bring the puppy out and put him in the crate to travel.
  • Carry your puppy into the doctor's office. Do not let him interact with any other animals in the office.
  • Remain calm and peaceful in the new environment and during the exam so your puppy can do the same.
  • Depending on the status of your puppy's records and stool exam, your puppy will also begin the deworming process and receive the following initial vaccines-- Rabies, Distemper, Bordetella and maybe some others depending on where you are from. 
  • Ask your vet about microchipping and when it is safe to begin socializing and training your pup.
  • Come back to vet for booster shots two to four weeks after initial visit.
  • Signs of immediate medical care: Allergic reactions; swelling around the face; hives; eye injuries; respiratory problems; signs of pain, panting, labored breathing, increased body temperature, lethargy, restlessness, or loss of appetite; suspected poisoning; open wound; a seizure, fainting or collapse; snake bite; thermal stress; trauma; vomiting or diarrhea more than two or three times within an hour.
Transcript Your puppy's first veterinary check-up is about much more than simply greeting your dog's new vet, weighing in, and getting him his standard immunizations. Believe it or not, your first vet visit is just as much about educating yourself and answering your questions as it is about checking the health of your newest family member. Your first vet visit requires organization, preparation, and sometimes even some light note-taking.
 
Hi. I'm Dr. Katy Nelson for Iams with Howdini. Today we're talking about how to take your new puppy to his first veterinary appointment.
 
Let's begin with what you'll need to bring to your first visit. First you should find out what the breeder or shelter has already done for your puppy. They have probably given them some vaccinations. He probably has also been placed on a deworming schedule, and may even be on a heartworm preventative. Depending upon his breed, the tail may have been docked in the dew claws removed. Your veterinarian will need all of this information along with the puppy's approximate birth date.
 
So it's important to bring all of your paperwork with you to your first veterinarian visit so they can help you determine a schedule for completing immunizations, and determine when it's best to schedule spaying and neutering.
 
Next, you should bring a fresh stool sample to your first visit so the veterinarian can check for parasites.
 
Lastly, prepare a list of questions. After having your puppy home for a few days there's no better time to ask questions than at your first visit with a medical professional. Ask other family members, too, if they have any questions that they'd like added to your list.
 
Once your prepared, bring your puppy's crate to the car, and do your best to secure it with available seat belts. Depending on the size and weight of the crate and the puppy, it's usually easier to secure the crate first and then put your puppy inside. If you cannot fit a crate in your car, try purchasing a dog seat belt that is specifically designed to restrain and protect your puppy in case of an accident.
 
This next piece of information is critical. Carry your puppy into the doctor's office. Do not let him interact with any other animals in the office. Though the other animals may be perfectly healthy themselves, your puppy can still get very sick from even just rubbing noses with another dog until his vaccinations and immunity against disease is further developed. After greeting you and your new pup, your vet will likely begin examining your pup as she continues to converse and answer your questions.
 
She'll check your puppy's weight, temperature, heart, lungs, ears, genitals, eyes, nose, skin, anal region, mouth, and gums, for both basic and breed abnormalities. Your puppy needs to learn to be comfortable being handled by others. Remaining calm and peaceful in the new environment with the vet or any other stranger will allow your puppy to do the same.
 
Depending on the status of your puppy's records and stool exam, your puppy will also begin the deworming process, receive the following initial vaccines-- rabies, distemper, and Bordetella, if your puppy's exposed to other dogs in boarding, public dog parks, training, and other situations. Then based on geography and lifestyle, ask your veterinarian which vaccines they recommend for your puppy.
 
Also, ask your vet about microchipping and when it is safe to begin socializing and training your pup. Following the initial visit, your veterinarian will ask that you return to booster the vaccines until your puppy reaches a certain age. The time between boosters typically ranges between two and four weeks.
 
Here are some signs that your puppy needs immediate medical care. Allergic reactions or swelling around the face-- hives-- this is most easily seen on the belly or face. Any eye injuries, any respiratory problems, any signs of pain, panting, labored breathing, increased body temperature, lethargy, restlessness, or loss of appetite. Any suspected poisoning, any open wound, a seizure, fainting or collapse, snake bite, thermal stress-- either too hot or too cold. Trauma, like if he's hit by a car, even if he seems fine. Vomiting or diarrhea more than two or three times within an hour. If you notice any of the signs that we've talked about, make sure you see your veterinarian.
 
I'm Dr. Katy Nelson for Iams with Howdini. I hope that you found this helpful as you welcome your new addition to the family. For more information on puppy care and training visit iams.com/puppy.
meet theexpert
  • Dr. Katy J. Nelson

    Dr. Katy J. Nelson Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Nelson is an associate emergency veterinarian at the Alexandria Animal Hospital in Alexandria, VA where she works with a wide variety of pets and pet problems. She is the co-creator of the hospital’s Pawsitively Fit program. more about this expert »

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