What to Expect at Your Puppy's First Veterinary Appointment
What to Bring with You
You should bring any paperwork the breeder/adoption center gave you at the time you got your puppy, specifically any vaccination history and background history. This information will help the vet understand what health concerns may pertain to you pet based on breed and history, along with knowing where your pup is at in their vaccination series.
Also, make sure your pup come to the vet in a carrier or on a leash (of course, you may carry them if they're small enough).
Next, in the 24 hours before the vet appointment, keep an eye out for your fur-baby to defecate. You'll need to grab a bag and bring a sample of their feces to the vet. Don't worry, I'll explain... (P.S. double-bag the feces and store it in the fridge to reduce odor while you wait to head to the vet).
Finally, come with questions! Don't be afraid to ask a million questions; the vet would rather send you home knowledgeable than to leave you clueless.
When You Get to the Vet Office:
You'll want to show up a few minutes early, because you'll have paperwork to do. The vet office will need all of your contact information, along with information about your pup. This is important for (1) putting you and your pup in their computer system and (2) having the ability to maintain the doctor-client-patient relationship.
It's also a good idea to see if your pup needs to use the bathroom before stepping into the clinic. It's not uncommon for these guys to get so excited when they're in a new place and seeing new people that they just can't control their bladder.
Next, hand over the stool sample. The veterinary technician/assistant can get start that test before the vet sees you. This is a test to look for intestinal parasites, which are extremely common in puppies. It's nothing to panic about if they do have parasites as it is something that is commonly spread through their mother's milk. A couple doses of de-wormer will knock it out (see below).
Once your paperwork is done, the vet tech/assistant working with you will either ask you to wait (as the vet may still be going through appointments) or will weigh your pup and get you settled into a room.
Now That You're in the Room
The veterinarian will come in and introduce themselves. This is the time to get a feel for your new baby's doctor, so pay attention.
The veterinarian will most likely discuss your pup's history with you (i.e. where you got him, the breed, and medical history that you're aware of). This is where the paperwork from the breeder/adoption center become useful.
Next, the veterinarian will examine your pup, including: eyes, ears, skin, external genitalia, mouth, heart rate, respiratory rate, and gut sounds. If you have an intact (not neutered) male, then they will check to make sure both testicles are present.
Finally, the vaccinations will be dispensed. This will most likely include a DHLPP vaccine (or some variation of that) and a de-wormer. DHLPP stands for distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. These are all disease that can be transmitted to your pup from various sources (I won't go into the details of each disease in this article). Expect your pup to squeal when the vaccine is given; it's not a particularly painful event, but they're just a baby and some pups are rather vocal.
The de-wormer will be an oral medication that kills any intestinal parasites. Hopefully at this point, the fecal exam will be done and the results will be given to you. If your pup is clean of paraistes - great! If not - that's okay! Either way, your pup will most likely be getting de-wormed; its a precautionary thing.
Finally, assuming your pup passed their exam, the vet may begin discussing flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. See what products your vet clinic offers and which ones your veterinarian recommends. These products are fairly expensive, but the cost to treat your pet should they get heartworms, fleas, or a disease from a tick is much worse.
Don't be afraid to ask a million questions; the vet would rather send you home knowledgeable than to leave you clueless.
On Your Way Out the Door
So you and your pup survived the appointment! Next step - paying. Veterinary visits are not cheap; it's safe to say that you'll never walk out of a clinic paying less that $100. Ask the vet tech/assistant if the clinic offers free first exams, as many clinics do as a reward for joining their client base. If the price seems outrageous to you, don't get upset about it in front of the staff. Keep in mind: if you choose to stay with that clinic, the staff that you upset will still be the staff that you work with. If you're "that client", there will probably be alerts put on your account to forewarn other employees of any disturbances you cause. You want to maintain a positive relationship with the veterinarian and their staff; plus, they're more forgiving and more likely to pull strings for you if you're a good client.
Next, depending on where your pup is at in their vaccination series, you'll want to set up another appointment in 2-4 weeks so they can get their booster vaccines. If the price at today's appointment was more than you expected, ask about getting an estimate for the next appointment so you can better prepare yourself.
Finally, thank everyone for their time. Working in a veterinary clinic isn't all puppies, kittens, and sunshine. It's stressful work that involves stressful clients, uncooperative pets, and longs hours.
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