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Your Puppy’s First Vet Visit - What to Expect

Yorkshire Terrier puppy at the vet getting their first check up while yawning

When you bring your new puppy home, you might be overwhelmed by the adorableness and the newfound love you have for your pet, but don’t let it distract you from their veterinary needs too. Going to the vet for a new puppy health check within the first few days of bringing them home is important for establishing good health practices for your pet and developing a great (and really important) relationship with your veterinarian. 

If your pet is perfectly healthy, that’s great, and there are preventative measures that the vet can take to help them stay that way. On the other hand, if your puppy has some underlying conditions or a new illness, it’s always best to get ahead of things early. We’ve put together this article to illustrate what you can expect from your first puppy vet visit, along with the things you should do to guarantee that it’s as beneficial as possible.

When Should a Puppy First Go to The Vet?

Generally, you should take your new pup to the vet within their first few days with you. Make sure to get any prior medical records from the person that owned your puppy before you. 

On that first visit with your veterinarian they will advise you on follow-up appointments to ensure your puppy gets the vaccinations they need. You can expect these appointments about every 3-4 weeks between the ages of 8 weeks to around 4-5 months old. Planning ahead for life with your puppy in its first year will be hugely beneficial for their long-term health. 

First Vet Visit Cost

You may be wondering “how much is a vet visit for a puppy going to set me back?”, which is a fair question, but you have to remember that your pet’s health and wellbeing are priceless. In general, you can expect to be parting with around $100 for the first visit, but average costs will vary between veterinary hospitals and geographical locations - and these costs may increase significantly if your pet needs treatment for anything. 

A good pet insurance policy in Canada can help offset the costs of veterinary treatments, so make sure to find the right insurance provider in the early days of ownership. The annual cost of owning a dog in Canada can be more than people think.


Paying attention

Before you take that first trip to the vet, you should make a conscious effort to collect as much information about your dog as possible. Pay clear attention to their behaviour, in everything from their eating habits to their relationships with people. Make note of any vomiting, diarrhea, and anything else of the sort. It’s okay if you don’t know what any of it means — that’s what the vet is for.

Puppy first vet visit checklist

You might think it’s enough to just bring your puppy to the vet and let the doctor do their thing, but to get the most out of your first visit, there are a good few things that you should bring with you. Stick to this list, and your vet will have a better idea of what they’re working with and be able to give you better advice moving forward.

  • Any and all veterinary records that you’ve been given by the shelter or breeder
  • Any forms that you’ve signed for the vet prior to your visit
  • Detailed notes on how your dog eats and what you feed them
  • Any and all questions, written in a concise and clear manner for the vet
  • Call ahead and ask them if they'd like you to bring a stool sample

Along with the things that you bring to help your vet, you should also bring some supplies to ensure that your dog feels as comfortable as possible in the vet’s office. New places can be a bit much for dogs to handle, and they might react badly, so bringing a few home comforts and supplies is always a good idea.

  • Bring a chew or another toy to keep your dog entertained
  • A leash, collar, or harness to keep your dog in one place
  • A crate or carrier with some blankets from home to keep them comfortable in transit
  • Remember to bring some treats to reward their good behaviour

Questions to Ask / Topics of Conversation

Once you get to the vet, there are plenty of things to discuss. Listed below are the topics that you can expect to be covered, but if they aren’t, make sure to bring them up to get the best picture of your pooch’s health and requirements.

  • Vaccination schedules
  • Proper nutrition and feeding
  • How travel the dog properly
  • Proper grooming
  • Dental care
  • How to play and exercise responsibly
  • Spaying/neutering and other aspects of reproductive health
  • Pet identification methods, such as trackers and microchips
  • Fleas, ticks, and other parasites
  • Interspecies diseases
  • General behavior and socialization

With these topics covered, you should have a pretty clear picture of your puppy and what they need from you.

What an Examination Will Look Like

Along with preparing your questions and bringing the necessary supplies, you should prepare yourself for the examination and what will take place during it, so as to not be surprised or concerned. Listed below are the typical things you can expect a vet to check up on during their first examination.

  • Observing the puppy’s movements around the room
  • Checking the puppy’s reflexes with some simple tests
  • Having a detailed look at every part of the puppy’s body
  • Feeling the lymph nodes, joints, and organs — a process known as palpating
  • Listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope
  • Checking the inside of the mouth and examining the teeth and gums
  • A standard weighing
  • Checking the pulse, respiratory rate, and body temperature

If the veterinarian doesn't complete any of these steps, mention it to them to understand their reasoning.

Now, you should feel comfortable knowing what to expect on your puppy’s first vet visit, along with how to properly prepare for it. As we mentioned, a good pet insurance policy in Canada goes a long way to protecting against your puppy's future unexpected health needs. 

For more interesting and useful articles on pet ownership, visit our blog