You have a new furry family member! Now what?
If you're reading this, then you probably just brought a new puppy home, or you're planning on bringing a new puppy home soon. Either way, congratulations! There's nothing like a cute, fuzzy new addition to the family.
While it's important to start right in on the cuddling and training needed by a new puppy, it's also crucial to get a head start on your puppy's health. You want to make sure your new friend gets off on the right foot, and this means scheduling your puppy's first veterinary visit. Depending on your new puppy's age and expected lifestyle, there are a lot of different things you can expect from your veterinarian. Read on to learn more.
Puppy's First Visit to the Vet
When you take your puppy to the veterinarian for the first time, your good doctor will probably want to give him or her a physical exam before anything else. This is really important your veterinarian can find physical problems with your pooch just by looking him or her over, such as poor gait or skin problems, and get your puppy on a treatment plan right away.
In addition, your veterinarian will want to make sure your puppy is free of a variety of illnesses and conditions, and to do so he or she will perform a variety of tests, including:
- Fecal exam to check for intestinal parasites
- Start deworming (through the use of prescription medication) to treat intestinal parasites and prevent heartworm
- Begin protecting your puppy from flea- and tick- borne diseases.
If your puppy is older than six months old during this initial visit, he or she will also need to undergo a heartworm test. Because it usually takes 6-7 months for an infected dog to test positive, heartworm wouldn't necessarily show up in tests on puppies younger than six months of age.
Vaccinations often depend on a variety of factors, including your dog's age and your geographic location. In general, however, all puppies and dogs should have the following vaccines:
- Distemper, Parvo, Corona, Leptosporosis, Hepatitis, and Parainfluenza these are often combined into a single vaccine.
- Rabies, a shot which initially requires annual boosters
When it comes to other vaccines, it really depends on the puppy his or her lifestyle, your lifestyle, your geographic location, and your puppy's age all factor in to vaccination. For instance, the Bordetella (Kennel Cough) vaccine is highly recommended for all dogs; this is especially true if there's a possibility that your puppy will be boarded at doggie daycare or have exposure to other dogs regularly. However, if your dog isn't likely to leave home or interact with other dogs much, it might not be as important.
There are a number of other vaccines that could be recommended by your veterinarian. In addition, some vaccinations require boosters every so often, from once every few weeks (for puppies) to once annually or every couple of years. We understand that this might seem confusing, but it's really important! The best thing to do is talk with your veterinarian, who will set up a vaccination schedule appropriate for your dog.
Your puppy's first veterinary visit is also a great time to discuss other topics with your veterinarian, such as the health benefits of spaying and neutering, diet, house training, socializing, and other ways to keep your puppy a well-behaved and well-adjusted member of your family. Remember this rule of thumb don't be afraid to arrive at your veterinarian's office with a list of all the questions you might have about your new pooch! There are no dumb questions when it comes to keeping your pet healthy and happy.