8 min read
One of the first things you should schedule when planning to bring home a puppy is a visit to the vet. Because their immune systems haven’t fully developed, puppies are highly susceptible to illnesses and require extra attention from pet parents.
A vet visit upon bringing your furry friend home will allow for screening of any illnesses and checking of key parameters, such as weight. Vaccinations should begin early and until your pet has received all the necessary immunisations, do not allow him or her to interact with other animals or pets. It is even advisable to not take your pet for walks around the neighbourhood until he or she gets the shots that puppies need. Even at home, be careful to keep them well away from dustbins and garbage. You don’t want him or her to catch any tummy bugs.
Choosing your pet’s vet /clinic
Choosing the right vet or clinic is crucial in your journey as a pet parent. Your vet will become your partner in ensuring your pet's health and well-being. It's essential to choose someone you trust and feel comfortable with. When choosing a vet, consider factors such as location, experience, and services offered. By selecting a vet that aligns with your values and goals, you can rest assured that your furry companion is in good hands.
Are you comfortable interacting with them?
When choosing a vet, it's important to consider more than just their knowledge and experience. You also need to assess their ability to communicate effectively with you and their treatment of your pet. Can the vet answer your questions and address your concerns? Since dogs cannot communicate their symptoms, it's essential that the vet listens to you and values your input.
How is he or she with your pet?
Additionally, it's important to consider how the vet interacts with your pet. While some aspects of a vet visit can be uncomfortable for dogs, such as receiving shots or having their temperature checked, the overall experience should be pleasant.
When dogs are stressed, they may become uncooperative, making it difficult for the vet to make a proper diagnosis. A kind and compassionate vet who works with you to create a positive experience for your pet can make all the difference in their willingness to cooperate during the visit.
Location of the clinic and transport options
Puppies are small and usually fit comfortably on your lap so transportation or commute isn’t too complicated. However, depending on their breed, they may grow to be too large to transport the same way. Take into account how far away the vet’s clinic is and how you would be able to manage future vet visits.
Other questions to ask:
How familiar is the vet is with the issues that commonly pop up for the breed of dog you have. There are often vets who are extremely experienced with issues pugs might have or are good with handling large breeds. You can ask the vet these questions and also consider the recommendations of other pet parents that you trust.
Sometimes it’s easier to go to a clinic that has the equipment to perform basic tests. Rather than having to go to a diagnostic centre to do this.
How are they set up for emergencies? Health scares don’t often stick to the 9-5 working day, unfortunately. The clinic you choose may not have a 24/7 emergency care unit but you can ask them which hospitals do offer this. Make a note so you don’t have to scramble when there is an emergency.
How do you prepare for your pup’s first visit?
It’s really best to make an appointment ahead of time. But if your vet doesn’t take appointments, ask them when the clinic is relatively quiet.
Choose a quiet time/day: Usually weekdays are less crowded than weekends. Crowds, new places and loud noises can be very stressful. The aim is to minimise this. Try to time the visit for after your pet has done his business. This will make the visit easier on you.
Make notes and questions beforehand: Don’t depend solely on your memory. Make notes on your phone or a piece of paper. Ask all the questions you have in mind on how to look after your little furball until the next vet visit. Check to see if there is a system in place to clarify doubts that may occur to you between vet visits.
For your first visit at least, it makes things easier if you take a human companion with you. Someone who can drive you there, book autos, take care of payment formalities etc, when your arms are busy holding your pup.
Remember to also take along essentials you may need like:
Poop bags & tissues
An empty bowl for water, a bottle of water from home
Some treats that your puppy is used to
Make a preliminary visit: If you’re a first-time pet parent, it may be the first time you’re visiting a vet clinic. If you’re nervous about what to expect, ask a fellow pet parent to walk you through it. Or go visit the clinic on your own to familiarise yourself with the set up.
While you’re waiting your turn -
In human clinics, we’re often waiting in a silent waiting room, nervous about being called in and yet, hoping to be next. Often veterinary clinics are much the same. But you don’t have to wait there. Once you register your pet, you could wait in the car instead. Planning your visit at a quiet time of the day also helps to reduce the wait time.
Make it as fun for your dog: You could stay in the car with the A/C on, get some toys out and play. It helps your pup if they can associate the experience to positive activities. A pup’s immune system is not well-developed as yet. So until they complete their full course of basic vaccinations, it’s recommended that they don’t wander outside your home or meet other pets. Remember to carry your pup to the examination and from it back to your vehicle.
Stay calm yourself: Dogs are very good at picking up on your emotional state. And they often take their cues from you. If you stay calm through the entire experience, it will help your pet. If you’re anxious, it could make them restless.
What to expect inside –
Once your turn is called, introduce yourself and your pet. Explain very clearly and honestly where the pup is from, their age and any other details you may know about the pup.
Your vet is likely to check for symptoms of common illnesses that pups are prone to, check their weight, temperature and listen to their breathing as well as their heart. A thorough physical examination of their body will be done as well. This includes the teeth and mouth.
If your pup is healthy overall, the first vaccinations will be given. You will also be told when the next set of vaccinations are due. Be sure to stick to this schedule so the vaccinations are as effective as possible.
Here’s a basic puppy vaccination chart. This may be added to or reduced depending on which vet you go to and depending on medical updates. Go with the advice of your vet on what is best for your puppy vaccination schedule.
If your vet recommends any medication, supplements or treatment for conditions they find, do ask them to demonstrate how to administer the medication so you don’t have any trouble at home. Don’t forget to schedule your next appointment and set a reminder if you have to.
After your pup’s first vet visit -
After your pup’s first vet visit, your pet may be exhausted from the new and exciting experience of visiting the vet. So, it’s not too unusual if they are resting more than usual. Do ask the vet for reactions from the vaccines and look out for any adverse symptoms for the next few days.
Most people assume that vet visits are only necessary when your pet is sick. Often, people do not take their pets to the vet until a day or two after symptoms appear, and the dog hasn't recovered from them. With young animals, things move very quickly, so it's important to contact a vet as soon as you notice something off.
Taking a video of the symptom/behaviour you are concerned about is a great way to give your vet a good idea of what's happening. Language barriers and our own recollections can often result in inaccurate reporting. A video conveys the symptom as accurately as possible.
Even after the vaccinations are complete, do discuss with your vet how often you need to come in for check-ups. While too many vet visits are not ideal, it's a good idea to have a list of milestones that your pet is due for and to ensure that all of them are being achieved. For example, that all their adult teeth have erupted, their testicles (for males) have descended, and that their hearing, eyesight, and gait are normal.
Taking your puppy to the vet for their first visit is crucial for ensuring their health and well-being. Puppies are highly susceptible to illnesses, so screening for any issues and getting necessary vaccinations early on is important.
Choosing the right vet or clinic is also crucial and involves considering factors such as location, experience, and services offered. By prioritising your puppy's health and making their vet visits a positive experience, you can ensure that they live a long and happy life.
1. What questions should I ask the veterinarian during my puppy's first appointment?
During your puppy's first vet appointment, you may want to ask the veterinarian about vaccination schedules, parasite prevention, diet and nutrition, and behavioural concerns. You can also ask for tips on grooming, exercise, and other aspects of puppy care. Remember, no question is too small when it comes to your puppy's health and well-being.
2. When should I schedule my puppy's first vet appointment?
You should schedule your puppy's first vet appointment as soon as possible after bringing them home, ideally within the first few days. This allows the veterinarian to screen for any potential health issues and establish a care plan for your puppy.
3. What should I expect during my puppy's first vet appointment?
During your puppy's first vet appointment, the veterinarian will likely perform a physical exam, check for any signs of illness or parasites, and discuss vaccination and preventative care options with you. The vet may also take a blood sample to test for any underlying health issues.
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