By Heather Venkat, DVM, MPH, DACVPM
That cute fur-ball you just welcomed home?
The one that’s exploring your home and making you laugh?
It’s time to make sure she’s as healthy as she seems.
Switching diets, transitioning home, and meeting new family places stress on a new little puppy.
So rather than hurry on and hope your pup is good, instead grab your phone and schedule a routine vet visit to make sure all is truly well.
On the first day home, your puppy is still getting comfortable with you.
So plan the vet visit for several days out.
This way your puppy will have time to first settle in.
Because this first visit will be the first of hopefully many routine check-ups, here’s what you want to know to get started on the right paw.
Find a Vet
Ask around to find out who the favorites are in town.
Which vets are your friends and coworkers raving over?
What qualities of a vet clinic are important to you?
How deeply do you care about location or special services like grooming and boarding?
Look for a vet who is respectful of your concerns and ready to answer your questions.
Make sure you feel comfortable even asking questions.
Also, learn what the after-hours setup is.
It’s astonishing how many puppy accidents happen outside the traditional 9-5 workday.
Look into their pricing structure.
Does the vet office have payment plans or packages to help decrease your cost via monthly payments?
Why is a Vet Visit SO Important?
Your puppy’s first visit is about giving you peace of mind that all is well with your puppy.
This is your opportunity to have an expert look over your puppy and determine if there are any potential health issues or risks you should be aware of.
A second reason for this initial vet visit is to stay on schedule with your puppy’s vaccinations (here are the core vaccinations your puppy needs).
Together with your vet, review your little pup’s vaccine history and set up a vaccination schedule for moving forward.
Lastly, many health guarantees actually require that a puppy see a professional vet within the first week home.
Read the fine print to know exactly what you committed to when bringing your new puppy home.
Here’s What to Expect at Your First Vet Visit
This first veterinarian visit is 100% routine and nothing to be nervous about.
Your veterinarian will complete a thorough physical exam of your little puppy so you can know all is right with your little fur pal.
Not in any particular order, here’s what will happen at your puppy’s first visit.
A vet will:
- Weigh your puppy.
- Listen to your puppy’s heart and lungs with a stethoscope.
- Take your puppy’s temperature.
- Palpate (feel with hands) lymph nodes, joints, and organs within the abdomen.
In addition, the vet will check your puppy’s body, reflexes, skin, coat, eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
He will test your puppy’s vision, check your pup’s hearing, and evaluate how alert your puppy appears.
All the while, he’ll look closely for abnormalities including such things as a hernia, cleft palate, possible heart defects, and parasites.
And if you remember to take a sample, he’ll examine your puppy’s feces too.
Based on your puppy’s vaccination history, it may be time for a vaccine booster.
Or your pup may be due for a routine deworming (your vet will give this via your pup’s mouth).
And if you are wanting to get your puppy microchipped, this is a great time to get it done.
When you microchip your puppy, it’s as if you are inserting an ID tag inside your little pup’s body.
The chip contains your puppy’s name, your contact info, and any important details about your pup.
This way if your puppy is ever missing, experts at either a shelter or vet office can simply scan the chip and return your puppy straight to you.
How Much Does a Vet Visit Cost?
The price for a first vet visit typically ranges between $100 – $300.
This price will vary greatly based on location and yes, urban areas are typically higher in price.
Because this first visit is more routine in nature, call ahead and get an estimate so you know early what you can expect to pay.
If veterinarian costs feel intimidating (because let’s be honest, you never know when a puppy emergency can come up!), there’s always the possible pet insurance to keep those surprise vet bills at bay.
Whatever the case, stay calm.
When you step inside that vet office for the very first time, your puppy will be ultra-aware of how you are feeling.
When you stay calm, you’re signaling to your dog that everything is okay.
Your pup can relax because you are calm.
Don’t forget to bring some tasty treats or a toy to reward and encourage your puppy.
And never force her to interact with other dogs in the waiting room area if she seems overwhelmed or scared.
Bring your puppy’s paperwork and a sample of your little pup’s feces.
And bring your questions.
Your vet is an expert on your little fur pal.
So go ahead and tap his brain for how to best care for your new puppy.
Your questions can range anywhere from diet to medical concerns, spaying, neutering, and exercise.
If you’re asking it, your vet probably has the answer.
Before you go, always set up a follow-up appointment and confirm the schedule for future vaccinations.
You’re almost through your first week together with your new puppy.
Come on back and discover how to establish house rules that work.
See you then!
Dr. Heather Venkat has been a veterinarian since 2013, working in companion animal medicine with dogs and cats, as well as veterinary public health. Her passion is in prevention, One Health, and strengthening the human-animal bond. A bonafide animal-lover, she competes in dog sports and currently shares her home with a border collie mix named Luna, three cats, and two leopard geckos.