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Your Puppy’s First Visit to the Vet

One of the first things you should do when you bring your puppy home is to introduce him to his new veterinarian. In fact, as soon as you know when you are going to pick up your puppy, schedule an appointment. This is the first and best step in caring for your puppy’s health and well-being.

There is a lot to learn about your new puppy. How to teach him, communicate with him and provide him a safe and healthy home are all very important. Knowing what to expect can help you have a more informative, comfortable and pleasant first visit to your puppy’s doctor.

When you first arrive at the veterinarian with your new puppy, you will probably have some paperwork to fill out. If you have never been to this particular veterinary hospital before, the paperwork will include information about you. You will be asked to list your address, telephone number and work place. The veterinary office will need this information to develop a medical record for your pup. Since you will be paying for the services, the clinic will need your personal information.

The clinic will also need information about your pet. His name, age, sex, where he was obtained and what medical care he has already received. Some clinics also have various questionnaires for new puppy owners to fill out to help determine if there are behavior problems, house breaking problems or health concerns.

Next you will be led into the exam room where the technician will weigh your puppy, take his temperature and listen to his heart. Probably, when you made the appointment, you would have been asked to bring in a fresh stool sample. This sample can be given to the technician for a stool sample analysis.

After this, the veterinarian will begin to examine your puppy. He or she will begin by asking a variety of questions. These may include:

The veterinarian may then discuss tips on behavior, training and feeding and try to answer your questions and give you general information on what to expect as your puppy ages. If your puppy is a purebred, your veterinarian may be able to discuss breed specific topics such as health issues and behaviors. The veterinarian will also discuss spaying or neutering your puppy and let you know when her clinic prefers to do the procedure as well as the advantages of spaying or neutering.

The Physical Exam

After talking about your puppy, the exam will begin. The veterinarian will check the following:

Some purebred animals have special concerns. For example, the bite is important in many different breeds. Some dogs have an underbite, while some have a very narrow nasal opening, a dome shaped head or an open fontenelle on top of the skull. There are various other breed specific items that your veterinarian will check out.


Often, the puppy is first brought to the clinic when he is due for a vaccination. Puppies should be vaccinated beginning at six to eight weeks of age and every three to four weeks until 16 to 20 weeks of age. Sometimes, the breeder will have given the first vaccination and dewormer. The veterinarian will need to know when the breeder gave the vaccine so she can give the next dose at the appropriate time.

Typically, the puppy is given one vaccination that includes vaccines against several different organisms, including distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus and parainfluenza. The puppy may also vaccinated against leptospirosis and/or coronavirus. In some areas of the country, Lyme vaccine can be administered.

Parasite Protection

The veterinarian will also give a dewormer. Even if the stool sample is negative, nearly all puppies are born with roundworms so at least two doses of dewormer are recommended three weeks apart. Some veterinarians recommend dewormer every three weeks until the puppy has finished his series of puppy shots. When the puppy has reached at least 12 weeks of age, he can receive a rabies vaccination.

Your veterinarian will likely discuss parasite prevention. This includes heartworm prevention and flea and tick prevention. Unlike adult dogs, puppies under 6 months of age do not need a heartworm test before beginning heartworm preventative. Young puppies can be administered ivermectin (Heartgard) if at least six weeks of age. Puppies can be administered milbemycin (Interceptor) if at least eight weeks of age. Nitenpyram (Capstar) can be administered to puppies over 4 weeks of age. Fipronil (Frontline) can be administered to puppies over 10 weeks of age and imidacloprid (Advantage) can be administered to puppies over 12 weeks of age.

At the end of the visit, your veterinarian will let you know when you should bring your puppy back for additional vaccinations. Usually, this is 3 to 4 weeks later. This continues until your puppy is 16 to 20 weeks of age. At that point, the vaccines become annual. The puppy will likely need to visit the veterinarian to be spayed or neutered at around four to six months of age. Then, visits usually become annual until he reaches seven years of age, which is considered geriatric for most breeds. At that point, twice yearly visits are recommended.