You’re a few days away from picking up your puppy and everyone is excited. You have a new leash, toys, a crate, but what are you forgetting? Have you scheduled your puppy’s first vet visit yet? It may seem early, but your puppy should head to the vet as soon as possible after coming home. It is your responsibility to keep your puppy in top shape, and your veterinarian will be able to help establish the guidelines to success.
What to Bring
When you make your appointment, the receptionist should tell you a handful of items to bring to the visit. In general, veterinarian’s will want to have a copy of the puppy’s medical history and relevant paperwork from the breeder, shelter, rescue organization, or store from which the puppy was purchased. Some offices ask that you fill out a new patient information form before arriving. For the first visit, a stool sample is often necessary to test for parasites. Many puppy owners choose to collect a stool sample ahead of time and bring it to the visit in a bag.
What to Expect
A first visit will be slightly different at every clinic, but there are some common things to expect. Generally, a vet tech will start the exam by taking vitals, weighing your pup, and taking his temperature.
At this point, the veterinarian will step in to perform a comprehensive exam. This exam will include listening to the heart and lungs, palpating the abdomen, and conducting a dental check-up. The vet will check your dog’s ears, eyes, nose, and toes, as well as the skin and coat. It is actually a nose to tail exam for the first visit!
Your vet will then go over a vaccination schedule with you and give any vaccinations that you choose to do on that day. Ask questions about possible symptoms resulting from the vaccinations so you know what to expect for the next few days.
Questions to Ask
Your veterinarian is the best person to ask any of your health-related questions regarding your new pup. His job is to ensure your dog is healthy, so keeping you informed about your role of caregiver is in his best interest! There are some essential tasks that every dog owner should know how to do, even if you plan on taking your pet to the groomer. Your vet should be happy to answer any questions and demonstrate these sorts of tasks:
- Oral hygiene, including best methods for tooth brushing, appropriate chew or dental toys or supplements, and the teething process and timeframe
- Best methods for cleaning ears
- Best methods for trimming toe-nails
- Best age for spay/neuter
- Flea, tick, and parasite prevention
- Food recommendations
- Possible health issues based on breed concerns
- Grooming tips
While the first few trips to the vet may seem costly once you factor in parasite control, vaccinations and boosters, there are some ways to reduce the financial stress. Through the AKC Veterinary Network Certificate Program, puppies and dogs who are newly registered with the AKC receive a certificate for a complimentary first veterinary office visit when taken to veterinarians in their network.
Pet insurance is also a great way to reduce financial stress brought on by vet visits. Everyone wants his dog to be the symbol of health, but accidents and illness can occur even with the best care. AKC Pet Insurance offers full term policies that are customizable, so you can choose how much you pay each month. Endorsements such as Exam Care and DefenderPlus can be added to cover routine care and annual wellness screenings.
Before You Leave
Don’t forget to schedule a follow-up visit before you leave, as many vaccinations require boosters to be effective. Keeping your dog on a regular exam schedule for preventative health care is key to a long and healthy life!