The day has finally arrived! Your puppy is coming home! Yay!
Have you scheduled your puppy's first vet visit yet? If you are getting your puppy from a breeder, then most likely, your new pup has already had its first veterinary exam. So, make sure you have copies of everything they’ve already had done for your puppy, and bring those copies with you to your veterinarians' office.
If you adopted your puppy from a rescue or a shelter, it is vital to schedule your puppy's first vet visit within the first two weeks of them being home. Here are some things you can do to make it a ~pawsitive~ experience for your pup, yourself, and the vet.
Prepare for Waiting Room Run-Ins
Waiting rooms can be busy, so be mindful of the other pets… especially if there are cats! It’s best to keep your new puppy on a leash or if they’re small enough in a crate. Do not assume that you will be able to hold a wiggly puppy in your arms when they experience all the new sights, sounds and smells at the vet office.
If you already know your pup gets anxious around other animals, you can call ahead and ask to wait in your car until a room is available. It’s also a good idea to exercise or play with your puppy before making the trip to the vet’s office. For example, go for a walk or let them run around the yard to get out any extra energy they might have.
First Exam: You’re Going to Stick That Where?!
Be prepared for your vet to do a nose-to-tail examination. This exam will include getting your pup’s weight, listening to their heart and lungs, checking their tummy, and taking their temperature -- rectally, of course. The vet will also check your dog’s mouth, ears, eyes, nose, and toes, as well as the skin and coat.
It’s important that you remain calm to help your puppy feel safe and secure. Be ready to answer questions about the puppy’s history, eating habits, and behaviors during the exam.
It may sound weird, but as a general rule, for veterinary visits, no matter how young or old your dog is, bring a poop sample so the vet can examine it for intestinal parasites. Even though breeders and rescues will deworm puppies, it doesn't mean your pup is guaranteed to be parasite-free. If your vet does find worms, don't be alarmed, it's common in puppies and can be treated with medication.
Vaccinations & Medications
We hope you really like your vet because you will be seeing them repeatedly over the first couple of months with your new pup for their vaccinations. The vet team will likely set you up with a vaccination schedule starting when your dog is eight weeks old. Then, depending on your pup’s age and size, they will receive booster shots every 3 – 4 weeks.
The core vaccines will help protect your pup against canine parvovirus, canine distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and rabies. In addition, your vet may recommend other vaccines such as Bordetella (kennel cough), Lyme disease, and canine flu vaccine.
Your dog may need these additional vaccines if you plan to expose your dog to other pups at dog parks, boarding or daycares, and if they risk contact with ticks. It’s important to note the Rabies vaccine is legally required in most states!
Remember keeping your dog on a regular exam schedule for preventive healthcare is key to a long and healthy life!