After much consideration, you have finally decided to take the leap and get a puppy. Now it's time to book your puppy's first checkup. Our Laguna Beach vets discuss what to expect at your puppy's first vet visit and offer a checklist of what you should bring and the questions you should ask.

What Happens During the First Vet Visit?

During your puppy's first visit, a veterinarian should do the following:

  • weigh the puppy
  • listen to the heart and lungs
  • take puppy's temperature
  • examine the puppy's eyes, ears, nose, feet, and genitalia
  • examine the puppy's skin and coat
  • look at the puppy's teeth and mouth
  • palpate abdomen and lymph nodes
  • examine the feces for the presence of worms (you should bring a stool sample if you can)
  • discuss the puppy’s history and any questions you might have about feeding, medical issues, and future care
  • if you are going home with medications or treatments, make sure that you understand when and how they are to be given. Follow directions to the letter, and set up a schedule for follow-up visits and pet vaccinations.

What Should I Bring to the First Vet Visit?

There are some items that are beneficial to bring with you to a veterinary appointment. The following items may help your visit go quicker and easier:

  • any veterinary records you received from the breeder or shelter
  • a written list of important questions or concerns that you might have
  • notes on how much of what types of foods and treats you offer at home
  • a dog carrier or crate lined with some old towels or shirts that smell like home
  • a leash and collar or harness
  • a chew toy for distraction
  • small treats to reward good behavior
  • any forms provided by your veterinarian that you have already filled out
  • a stool sample, as fresh as possible

It is ideal for you to keep any young puppies or small dogs in a crate during your visit to the vet. It is not a good idea to carry your puppy in your arms as it is not entirely safe and you could drop them. Puppies must be kept under control at all times using a leash and collar or harness. This is why a chew toy or some treats are a good idea.

What Should I Ask the Vet During the Puppy's First Visit?

During your puppy's first visit your vet will provide a wide range of information and advice about keeping your puppy healthy. Based on the information above, if you have any questions that you believe they have overlooked, or if the information they have supplied is confusing, don't hesitate to ask for clarification.

One of the easiest ways to ensure that you don't miss any information during your puppy's first vet visit is to make a checklist with all the questions you would like to ask, such as:

How Can I Ensure the Health & Safety of My New Puppy?

  • How often does my puppy need to come to the vet?
  • When should I spay or neuter my puppy?
  • Should I microchip my dog?
  • How many times a day should my puppy poop?
  • Are there any health concerns specific to my puppy’s breed(s)?
  • Does my puppy need flea and tick prevention?
  • What is heartworm disease and why is prevention important?

What Steps Should I Take Toward Training & Behavior?

  • When can my puppy go to the pet store/dog park/groomer?
  • Do you recommend crate training? 
  • How long can she stay in her crate?
  • How do you potty train a puppy?
  • How much exercise does my puppy need?
  • How do I socialize my puppy with other humans and dogs?
  • Do you know any local trainers?

What Type of Food Should I feed My New Puppy?

  • What should my puppy eat? 
  • How many times a day should my puppy eat?
  • When do puppies switch to adult dog food?

What Are The Costs Associated With My Puppy's First Vet Visit?

The cost of your puppy's first veterinary visit will vary depending on any tests or imaging that might be completed as well as any vaccines or parasite prevention that they required. Veterinary wellness programs, vaccination clinics, and pet insurance can all help you save money. You can contact your vet directly for a more precise quote so there are no nasty surprises.

Is it time for your new puppy's first vet visit? Contact our Laguna Beach vets to book a wellness exam and preventive care for your new addition.