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Just for Kids: Taking Your Dog to the Veterinarian

Soon after you get your new puppy or dog, you should take him to a veterinarian for a checkup. The doctor will check your dog to make sure he is healthy.

When you take your dog for his checkup, keep him on a leash or in an escape-proof carrier. He might be frightened and try to run away. Veterinarians like carriers that open from above so they can remove your pet easier.

Keep your dog from being friendly with other animals in the waiting area. Some animals may have diseases that are “catchy”; others may not be friendly and may hurt you or your dog.

The Examination

Your veterinarian will give your puppy a physical examination much like you get when you visit the doctor. Here are some of the things the doctor will do:


Puppies need to have some shots to protect them from getting illnesses. These are called vaccinations. Your puppy will need several over a 6 to 12-week period. As he gets older he will need to have booster shots every year.

The vaccine should protect your dog against


Your dog will also have a blood test to make sure he doesn’t have heartworms. Heartworms are parasites that look like spaghetti and can grow up to a length of 14 inches inside a dog’s heart. The disease is spread from dog to dog (and to cat) by mosquitoes. As they grow inside the heart, they make a dog very sick.

We prevent heartworms by giving either monthly tablets or by applying a liquid each month to the pet’s back. This medicine can also prevent other parasites, like fleas, intestinal worms, ticks and mites. The choice of medication is a decision you will make with your veterinarian.

If Your Dog Is Sick

You should take your dog to the veterinarian if he is sick or injured. Make sure you can tell the doctor all about your dog, like when he started to be sick and what his symptoms are. If your dog already takes medicine, tell your veterinarian what it is and when he takes it. If you think your pet ate something poisonous or something that could hurt him, take the container with you so your doctor can see it.

If you don’t understand something, ask your veterinarian to explain. When you leave make sure you know what you have to do at home, like giving medicine or returning for more tests. Ask your veterinarian to write everything down.

When You Get Home

Do everything the doctor tells you to do. He may want you to give your dog medicine or keep your dog quiet. If your dog doesn’t seem to be getting better, or if he seems to be getting worse, make sure you let the veterinarian know.

Finally, if your pet’s doing well after treatment, let your veterinarian know. Knowing your dog is better will make him happy, too.