As a new puppy owner, our vets at O’Fallon can guide you on how to prepare for your puppy's first vet visit and what to expect during the appointment.

When to Take a Puppy to the Vet for the First Time

Puppy shelters and breeders usually start vet visits for puppies before they are given to new pet parents. You should receive documentation specifying the care provided and when to schedule the next vet visit.

Regardless of prior care, scheduling a new puppy vet visit within a few days of bringing your new furry friend home is advisable. The vet will conduct a thorough physical exam and run tests to detect any health issues.

Typically, puppies have vet appointments every 3-4 weeks from 6-8 weeks old until 4-5 months old. Most puppies start vaccinations at 6-8 weeks old.

If vaccinations start later than 4-5 months, two visits scheduled 3-4 weeks apart can usually catch them up. Your vet may adjust the plan to suit your puppy's unique history and requirements.

Before your appointment, you should collect as much information as possible.

Puppy’s First Vet Visit Checklist

  • Any veterinary records you received from the breeder or shelter
  • A written list of important questions
  • Notes on how much of what types of foods and treats you have
  • Dog carrier or crate lined with some old towels 
  • Leash and collar or harness
  • Chew toy for distraction
  • Small treats to reward good behavior
  • Any forms provided by your vet that you have already filled out
  • A stool sample, as fresh as possible

Small puppies will be more comfortable and safer traveling in a crate. Do not assume that you will be able to hold your puppy in your arms when they experience all the new sights, sounds, and smells at the clinic. It is important to bring a harness or leash to control your dog if they are feeling stressed.

What to Expect During Your Puppy’s First Vet Visit

Veterinary staff will start the visit by asking you a series of questions about your puppy’s history and how they are doing at home, followed by:

  • A weight check
  • A complete physical examination, which includes
  • Observing the puppy move around the exam room
  • Looking at the whole body including the eyes, ears, nose, feet, nails, skin, coat, and genitalia
  • Using a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs
  • Checking reflexes
  • Measuring temperature and pulse and respiratory
  • Opening the mouth to check out the teeth, gums, and other structures
  • Checking the eyes and ears 
  • Palpating the lymph nodes, joints, and organs within the abdomen

Throughout all the new puppy vet visits, the veterinary staff will discuss many important aspects of puppy care with you including

  • Dental care
  • Grooming needs
  • Nutrition
  • Flea, tick, heartworm, and internal parasite control
  • Vaccination schedules
  • Exercise and play requirements
  • Behavior and socialization
  • Pet identification, including microchips and tags
  • Reproductive health, including the benefits and risks of spaying and neutering
  • Travel requirements
  • Pet safety and disaster preparedness
  • Diseases that can be spread from pets to people (and vice versa)

Questions to Ask the Veterinarian

Your vet should provide all the information you need to help your puppy thrive, but look over the topics listed above. If your vet forgot to talk about something or the information they provided was confusing, don’t hesitate more questions.

If you have just got a new puppy, and it is time for their first appointment, you probably have a lot of questions. Feel free to contact our O’Fallon vets with any questions or concerns about your first appointment.