Congratulations—you’ve become a dog parent! The bond between you and your pet can be among the most rewarding in life. And such gifts rarely come without responsibility.
The care and maintenance of your dog’s health is an essential aspect of ownership, and for new pet owners, the first veterinarian appointment can be almost as stressful for you as for your pooch. So, we’ve put together a quick list of ways you make the most of your dog’s first vet visit.
Preparation For Your Dog’s First Vet Visit
If this is your dog’s first veterinary visit—or first visit to a new vet—a meet and greet before the date of the appointment can help familiarize your dog with the many sights, sounds, and smells of a busy veterinary office.
A healthy dose of exercise at your pup’s favorite park or hiking trail just before the appointment can also help to work off nervous energy and make even the most anxious dog easier to handle during the exam.
Keep a short leash handy: A shorter leash makes it easier to keep your dog close and under control, and less likely to get tangled with those of other pups in the waiting area. If you have a smaller dog, you may want to bring them in a carrier or crate. This not only limits interaction with larger animals but also helps keep your dog calm.
Prior to the appointment, ask your vet if you need to provide a stool sample from your dog. This gives the vet an easy way to check for the presence of parasites or other abnormalities.
Questions To Ask During Your Dog’s Vet Appointment
Be prepared to discuss your pet’s past medical history, diet, behavior, and habits. Knowing what’s “normal” for your dog now can help the vet spot any changes in your dog’s health in the future.
Write down any questions you’d like to ask about your dog’s healthcare: vets are glad to answer any questions, and these discussions will make you a more informed and responsible caregiver.
Here are 10 questions to ask your veterinarian on your pup’s first visit:
1. What does the wellness exam include?
2. What basic information can the vet share? (e.g. age, breed, congenital and heredity conditions, etc.)
3. What vaccinations are necessary, and what is the schedule for their administration?
4. What types of preventative—flea, tick, heartworm, etc.—should you use, how and when should you administer them?
5. How should you care for your dog’s dental health?
6. What is the ideal age to spay/neuter your dog?
7. When and how can you begin socializing your dog with other animals?
8. What is the best diet and amount of exercise for your dog?
9. What is the best way to groom your dog?
10. When should you start puppy training?
Also, inquire about the advantages of dog insurance as a way to cope with the financial responsibilities of caring for your pet in the event of a serious illness or injury.
What to Expect During The Office Visit
The waiting room of a busy veterinary practice can be loud and confusing. Usually, one of the technicians will guide you through the check-in process and obtain any essential information about you and your pet—such as your contact information and the nature of the visit.
Once you and your pup reach the exam room, you’ll meet with the vet, who will go through a series of routine procedures, including a basic physical exam. Your pup will be weighed and its eyes, ears, coat, teeth, and paws checked.
Your vet will likely ask a series of questions about your dog’s behavior, habits, and diet to obtain a baseline for what is “normal’ for your animal and to ensure that your dog is getting proper care at home. You may also be asked about the environment you provide for your dog (including exercise habits, access to a yard, and the presence of any other animals in the home).
If your animal is prone to any breed-specific ailments (such as hip dysplasia, ear infections, respiratory illnesses), your vet will likely review these with you so you can watch for any changes as your dog ages.
Your vet will also review any vaccinations (such as distemper, rabies, Lyme disease, etc.) as well as any parasite preventatives (such as heartworm medication) that your pet may need. Feel free to ask questions about anything that seems unfamiliar or out of the ordinary—remember that your vet is most effective when partnering with you as an informed caregiver to your animal.
After the appointment feel free to reward your dog with a treat or a trip to the park to unwind. We hope these tis will help make that first vet visit a smooth one—both for you and your pet!
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.
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