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Your puppy’s first veterinary checkup is about much more than simply greeting your dog’s new vet, weighing in, and getting him standard immunizations. Believe it or not, your first vet visit is just as much about educating yourself and answering your questions as it is about checking the health of your newest family member. Your first vet visit requires organization, preparation, and sometimes even some light note taking.
Hi, I’m Doctor Katy Nelson for Iams with Howdini and today we’re talking about how to take your new puppy to his first veterinary appointment. Let’s begin with what you’ll need to bring to your first visit. First, you should find out what the breeder or shelter has already done for your puppy. They’ve probably given him some vaccinations, he’s probably also been based on a de-worming schedule, and may even be on a heartworm preventative. And depending upon his breed, the tail may have been docked and the claw removes.
Your veterinarian will need all of this information, along with the puppy’s approximate birthdate. So it’s important to bring all of your paperwork with you to your first veterinarian visit so they can help you determine a schedule for completing immunizations, and to determine when its best to schedule spay and neutering.
Next you should bring a fresh stool sample to your first visit so the veterinarian can check for parasites. Lastly, prepare a list of questions. After having your puppy home for a few days, there’s no better time to ask questions than at your first visit with a medical professional. Ask other family members too if they have any questions they’d like added to your list.
Once you’re prepared, bring your puppy’s crate to the car and do your best to secure it with available seat belts. Depending on the size and weight of the crate and the puppy, it’s usually easier to secure the crate first and then put your puppy inside. If you cannot fit a crate in your car, try purchasing a dog seat belt that is specifically designed to restrain and protect your puppy in case of an accident.
This next piece of information is critical. Carry your puppy into the doctor’s office. Do not let him interact with any other animals in the office. Though the other animals may be perfectly healthy themselves, your puppy can still get very sick from just rubbing roses with another dog until his vaccinations and immunity against disease is further developed.
After greeting you and your new pup, your vet will likely begin examining your pup as she continues to converse and answer your questions. She’ll check your puppy’s weight, temperature, heart, lungs, ears, genitals, eyes, nose, skin, anal region, mouth, and gums for both basic and breed abnormalities.
Your puppy needs to learn to be comfortable being handled by others. Remaining calm and peaceful in a new environment with the vet, or any other stranger, will allow your puppy to do the same. Depending on the status of your puppy’s records and stool exam, your puppy will also begin the deworming process, receive the following initial vaccines – rabies, distemper, and bordatella. If your puppy’s exposed to other dogs in boarding, public dog parks, training and other situations, then based on geography and lifestyle, ask your veterinarian which vaccines they recommend for your puppy.
Also, ask your vet about microchipping and when it is safe to begin socializing and training your pup. Following the initial visit, your veterinarian will ask that you return to booster the vaccines until your puppy reaches a certain age. The time between boosters typically ranges between 2 and 4 weeks.
Here are some signs that your puppy needs immediate medical care. Allergic reactions or swelling around the face, hives – this is most easily seen on the belly or face – any eye injuries, any respiratory problems, any signs of pain, panting, labored breathing, increased body temperature, lethargy, restlessness, or loss of appetite, any suspected poisoning, any open wound, a seizure, fainting, or collapse. Snake bites, thermal stress – either too hold or too cold. Trauma, like if he’s hit by a car, even if he seems fine. Vomiting or diarrhea more than two or three times within an hour.
If you’ve noticed any of the signs that we’ve talked about, make sure you see your veterinarian.
I’m Doctor Katy Nelson for Iams with Howdini and I hope that you’ve found this helpful as you welcome your new addition to the family. For more information on puppy care and training, visit iams.com/puppy.
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