After bringing home your new puppy, one of your first tasks is to schedule a visit to the veterinarian. At your puppy’s first vet visit, your puppy’s heath will be evaluated and you will receive the information and resources necessary to get your puppy off to the best possible start.
Here’s what you need to know beforehand, plus a list of questions to ask so you can make the most of your puppy’s first vet visit.
What to Expect at Your Puppy’s First Vet Visit
Your puppy’s first vet visit will likely begin with a discussion of your dog’s history. Make sure to bring along any paperwork or medical records you received from the breeder, shelter, or rescue so your vet or vet tech can determine what care your puppy has already received. They will also likely ask you questions about your puppy’s diet, appetite, elimination habits, behaviors, and how your puppy is acclimating to your home.
Next, the vet will perform a physical examination. During this exam, your vet will listen to your puppy’s heart to make sure there is no heart murmur, palpate (feel) the abdomen to make sure there are no hernias or other defects, check the eyes and ears for abnormalities, ensure that your puppy’s teeth and palate are normal, and rule out other medical issues. If your puppy is due for vaccines, they will also be given at this time, or your vet will book a follow up appointment to administer them.
The vet will also perform a fecal parasite exam or send samples to a lab for testing. For this test, a small sample of feces is collected, prepared, and examined under the microscope. If parasite eggs are seen under the microscope, this indicates that your puppy has intestinal worms. Intestinal worms are common in puppies but can easily be treated with dewormer. Keep in mind that these tests can come back negative even if parasites are present, so a dewormer may be administered either way.
You will also receive recommendations for keeping your puppy happy and healthy. The vet or vet tech will talk to you about training (including house training), socialization, diet recommendations, and other general puppy care issues. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions (more on this to come).
Finally, your puppy will be started on parasite protection. Puppies are susceptible to a number of parasites, including fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal worms. These parasites can cause significant damage, so it’s important for all dogs to receive lifelong parasite protection. In most cases, your vet will prescribe a monthly chew, such as Interceptor® Plus (milbemycin oxime/praziquantel) (safe for puppies 6 weeks or older and 2 pounds or greater), to protect your puppy against heartworm disease and hookworm, roundworm, tapeworm, and whipworm infections. Your vet may also prescribe a monthly chewable to protect your pet against ticks and fleas, such as Credelio® (lotilaner) (safe for puppies 8 weeks or older and 4.4 pounds or greater). Parasite protection is an important part of keeping dogs healthy. By establishing good habits early on, you will be more likely to continue these habits throughout your dog’s life.
See important safety information below for Interceptor® Plus and Credelio®.
Puppy First Vet Visit: Questions to Ask
Your puppy’s first vet visit is a valuable opportunity for you to learn what to expect with your growing dog. The veterinary team will give you a lot of information, so it may be helpful to write down your questions beforehand so you don’t get overwhelmed.
- When will my puppy return for future visits and vaccines? Puppies typically see their veterinarian for a checkup and vaccines three to four weeks after their first vaccination. Talk to your vet to determine your puppy’s expected schedule.
- When is it safe for my puppy to be around other dogs? While you may be eager to take your puppy to a pet store or the park, it’s important to talk to your vet to determine when your puppy will be protected against infectious diseases.
- How should I socialize my puppy? While socialization with people and other dogs is important, it’s important to do so in a way that is safe for your puppy. Talk to your vet for suggestions.
- When should I spay or neuter my puppy? While spaying or neutering are typically performed at 4 to 6 months of age, your vet can suggest the optimal timing for your puppy.
- What diet should I feed my puppy? With so many pet foods available, it can be hard to determine which one is best. Talk to your vet to determine what you should look for in a diet.
- What parasite protection is recommended for my puppy? Puppies need parasite control to protect against fleas, ticks, heartworm disease, and intestinal worms. Ask your vet about the best options for your puppy.
- How should I train my puppy? There are many different training methods available. Your vet or vet tech can provide training tips, or even a referral to a trainer.
- What health problems should I watch out for in this breed? Some dog breeds are predisposed to particular health issues. Your vet can tell you what signs to watch for and whether there are special steps you should take to decrease your puppy’s risk.
- Are any additional tests recommended for my puppy? Your vet may recommend specific tests (such as radiographs or genetic testing) to assess your puppy’s risk for hereditary diseases.
- Should I microchip my puppy (if not mandatory)? If so, when? If your puppy ever becomes lost and is taken to an animal shelter or veterinary clinic, the presence of a microchip will increase the chances that you and your puppy will be reunited.
- Should I buy pet insurance? Pet insurance can offer financial relief for any unexpected veterinary costs. Your veterinarian may be able to recommend a reputable provider.
Puppy First Vet Visit: Cost
The cost of your puppy’s first visit will vary, depending on your puppy’s age and what preventive care (if any) the puppy has already received.
In general, you can expect to spend $100-$300 for your puppy’s first visit, depending on your puppy’s overall health status and your location. This cost includes a physical exam, initial vaccines, a fecal parasite exam, and parasite protection. If your vet discovers significant health issues that require treatment, the total cost may be higher.
Puppy First Vet Visit: Checklist
When preparing for your puppy’s first vet visit, consider the following:
- Schedule the visit at a time that you (or the puppy’s primary caretaker) can be present. Sending the puppy to their first vet visit with a friend or family member may mean that the vet will not get necessary information about the puppy, and that you get less benefit from the visit.
- Budget $100-$300 for the first visit, recognizing that costs may be even higher if significant health issues are discovered.
- Bring any records that you received from the breeder or animal shelter to your appointment. This will allow the veterinary team to see which vaccines or treatments your puppy has already received.
- Come prepared with a list of questions, such as those suggested above. Bring a notepad or smartphone, so that you can take notes.
Being prepared will ensure that you and your puppy receive the most benefit from your first vet visit!
Credelio kills adult fleas and is indicated for the treatment and prevention of flea infestations, treatment and control of tick infestations (lone star tick, American dog tick, black-legged tick, and brown dog tick) for one month in dogs and puppies 8 weeks and older and 4.4 pounds or greater.
Credelio Important Safety Information
Lotilaner is a member of the isoxazoline class of drugs. This class has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions including tremors, incoordination, and seizures. Seizures have been reported in dogs receiving this class of drugs, even in dogs without a history of seizures. Use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders. The safe use of Credelio in breeding, pregnant or lactating dogs has not been evaluated. The most frequently reported adverse reactions are weight loss, elevated blood urea nitrogen, increased urination, and diarrhea. For complete safety information, please see Credelio product label or ask your veterinarian.
Interceptor Plus Indications
Interceptor Plus prevents heartworm disease and treats and controls adult roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, and tapeworm infections in dogs and puppies 6 weeks or older and 2 pounds or greater.
Interceptor Plus Important Safety Information
Treatment with fewer than 6 monthly doses after the last exposure to mosquitoes may not provide complete heartworm prevention. Prior to administration of Interceptor Plus, dogs should be tested for existing heartworm infections. The safety of Interceptor Plus has not been evaluated in dogs used for breeding or in lactating females. The following adverse reactions have been reported in dogs after administration of milbemycin oxime or praziquantel: vomiting, diarrhea, decreased activity, incoordination, weight loss, convulsions, weakness, and salivation. For complete safety information, please see Interceptor Plus product label or ask your veterinarian.
Disclaimer: The author received compensation from Elanco US Inc., the maker of Interceptor Plus and Credelio, for her services in writing this article.
Credelio and Interceptor are trademarks of Elanco or its affiliates.
© 2020 Elanco or its affiliates. PM-US-20-1223