Ready to help treat your pet to a healthy life?
How to Prepare for Your Puppy’s First Vet Visit
By: Trupanion Staff | Published Aug 24, 2023
All puppies need routine veterinary care to ensure they grow up into healthy adult dogs. Though if you’re a new dog parent, knowing when to actually schedule your puppy’s first checkup can be challenging. But don’t worry — we’re here to provide some clarity.
When should my puppy have their first vet visit?
The right time to schedule your new puppy’s first veterinary appointment depends on who you ask. Some hospitals recommend aiming to bring dogs in for their first full checkup at eight weeks of age, while others advocate for three to six weeks old.
PetCare RX meanwhile says, “You can push their first visit to 10 weeks of age if necessary, but the longer you wait, the more you put your pup at risk.”
That said, you’ll want to gather as much medical information on your pet as you can get upfront from their breeder or shelter — wherever you are adopting them from. There’s a good chance your puppy had already had some veterinary care, and this will help dictate when their next appointment should be.
What to bring to your puppy’s appointment
There are several things you should bring along to your puppy’s first vet visit:
- Any vaccination or medical records you have for your pup
- Any breed or other genetic information you may have for your pet
- Microchipping information (if your pet is already microchipped)
- A leash and harness, even if you’re bringing your puppy in a crate
- A fresh stool sample (ask about this ahead of time) in a container provided by your veterinary clinic or in a sealed plastic bag
- Treats to reward your puppy for good behavior and help them associate the veterinary visit with positive experiences
- A list of any questions you may have (and a notebook to jot down answers and useful information)
- Videos and/or photos of any behaviors or potential physical issues that concern you
That’s just a general list. Be sure to ask your veterinary hospital ahead of time if there is anything specific they would like you to bring to your pet’s appointment.
What to expect at your puppy’s first checkup
Puppy veterinary visits tend to be jam-packed! Your pet will get a thorough physical exam, followed by any necessary vaccinations or further treatments. If it’s your first time bringing your puppy to the vet, you’ll also receive lots of information for their care and growth timeline.
Keep in mind that your puppy’s first vet appointment isn’t just for a checkup — it’s also a chance to get to know your veterinarian and see if they’re the right fit for your pet’s ongoing care. Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions and get a feel for how the veterinary hospital operates. This is also a time to start building positive associations between your pet and their vet.
Will my puppy need to get shots?
It depends. Puppies generally need their first vaccines (distemper, adenovirus, parvo, and possibly others) between six and eight weeks of age, which is why many veterinarians recommend making their initial checkup appointments at this time. Additional vaccines will be needed as your pet ages into an adult dog.
It’s common for many puppies to only be put up for adoption after they have already received their initial rounds of vaccines, however. This is why it’s so important to bring all of your puppy’s available medical records to their appointment and talk with your veterinarian about what’s best for your pet.
Things to ask your veterinarian about your new puppy
If you’re not sure about your puppy’s age or breed, it’s a good idea to ask your veterinarian about these things in addition to discussing your new pet’s basic health needs. While they likely won’t be able to determine your pup’s exact age or genetic makeup, they’ll be able to make informed estimates.
That said, different veterinarians have their own checklists for what to cover at a new puppy’s appointment. But generally speaking, you can expect your dog’s veterinarian to go over the following:
- Nutritional requirements based on your puppy’s breed (this will include how much to feed them and how often)
- Vaccines and vaccination schedule
- Basic grooming needs and instruction
- Preventive care for heartworm, deworming, and flea and tick control
When will my puppy need to return to the veterinarian?
A typical veterinary appointment schedule for puppies includes visits every three to four weeks between eight weeks of age and five months old. That said, some veterinarians may have different standards. Your puppy’s checkup needs will also depend on if they have any health conditions that require additional care or monitoring.
In any case, your puppy’s next veterinary visit is something you will need to talk with their veterinarian about. They will likely want to schedule a follow-up visit at checkout from your appointment.
Talk to your veterinarian about pet insurance
Don’t have your new dog protected with pet insurance yet? Their first vet visit is a great time to ask about it. While your veterinarian can’t sign you up for coverage, they will be able to share real-life scenarios where pet insurance has helped dogs and cats get the treatment they need. They may also be able to talk about common puppy illnesses and injuries that are often covered by good pet health insurance plans.
For more information in the meantime, learn how Trupanion puppy insurance can help your pet.