Puppy’s First Vet Visit: Checklist & What to Expect

It's important to get your puppy used to visiting the vet while they are young. Our Lakewood vets will tell you everything you should know to prepare for your puppy's first visit.

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

Many puppy shelters and breeders start vet visits for puppies before they release their little ones to new pet parents. You should receive paperwork that clearly states what type of care has already been provided when that occurred, and when you should schedule your puppy’s next veterinary visit.

It is highly recommended to schedule a veterinary visit for your new puppy, regardless of any prior care provided by the shelter or breeder. This visit should ideally take place within a few days of bringing your canine companion home. During this visit, the vet will review your puppy's medical records and promptly address any overdue healthcare requirements.

The veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical examination and may conduct relevant laboratory tests to identify any potential health issues. It is crucial to detect and address problems as early as possible, especially before any health guarantees provided by the breeder expire.]

Typically, a puppy's veterinary schedule involves appointments every 3 to 4 weeks, starting when the puppies are between 6 to 8 weeks old, and continuing until they reach 4 or 5 months of age. Most puppies receive their initial vaccinations when they are 6 to 8 weeks old.

Puppies who have not received their first vaccinations before reaching 4 or 5 months of age can usually catch up on their immunizations in two visits scheduled 3 to 4 weeks apart. Your vet may tailor this plan based on your puppy's specific history and individual needs.

Puppy’s First Vet Visit Checklist

  • 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
  • Any veterinary records you received from the breeder or shelter
  • 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

Puppies will be more comfortable and safer if they travel in a crate. This is because it is difficult to hold on to puppies as they are rambunctious. 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
  • 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
  • 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

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 you with all the information that 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 Lakewood vets with any questions or concerns about your first appointment.