You got a new puppy! Now what?
Congratulations on your adorable new companion!
Your veterinarian is your partner in making sure your puppy gets the best start possible, as these early months of life are extraordinarily important in determining the health, behavior, and well-being of the adult dog your pet will become.
Below is information on what you can expect when you bring your pet in for his or her initial puppy exams.
- Overall health: The veterinarian will check for congenital issues, soundness of body, and signs of infectious issues.
- Feeding/Nutrition: There are almost as many dog foods on the market as there are breeds of dog! Determining what’s right for your pet based on age, breed, and nutritional needs is an important decision.
- Housebreaking: For most dogs, this can be accomplished fairly easily, but it does require initial diligence. Your vet can give you tips for teaching your dog how to know where to go.
- Appropriate behavior/Socialization: If you start young, you can keep many unwanted behaviors from ever developing and training will be much easier. Socialization—introducing your dog to new people, places, and other animals—is among the most important things you can do for a young dog.
- Environment: Some puppies need lots of stimulation, or they can become bored and destructive. Most need a safe place to get away from irritants or frightening things. Make sure you know how to create the right environment for your puppy’s needs.
- Bathing/Grooming: A bath and a quick brushing, or regular full-on grooming? Your vet can tell you what your puppy will need now and when they’re grown to keep them healthy and happy.
- Immunizations based on risk factors: While all puppies need an initial series of core vaccinations for certain diseases, there are some that may be optional depending upon environment and other factors.
- Parasite Prevention: You’ll have a discussion on both external (fleas and ticks) and internal (intestinal worms and heartworm) parasites. You can also talk to your veterinarian about other types of parasite prevention based on your dog’s lifestyle and environment.
- Pet Health Insurance: Now is the time to sign your dog up for veterinary insurance! This coverage is significantly less expensive if you obtain it early in your dog’s life, and will help cover many major veterinary expenses that occur when they’re older.
Second Exam (11- 13 Weeks)
- Health assessment: The vet can determine if your dog’s growth and development is on track and if any future health issues are developing.
- Feeding/Nutrition: Your pet’s nutritional needs may change during this important growth period, and your pet’s calorie intake make need adjustment depending upon activity level.
- Progress on housebreaking: If the puppy is having trouble with housebreaking, the vet can make recommendations to help.
- Appropriate behavior/socialization: How is your puppy reacting to new situations, people, and other animals? Are you noticing any unusual behaviors in your puppy?
- Immunizations: Your puppy will receive his or her second set of core “puppy shots” at this visit. Non-core vaccines such as Bordetella can be given at this time if your puppy is at risk of exposure.
- Parasite prevention: Your puppy will need a second round of deworming at this visit for intestinal parasites. Flea and tick prevention can begin around this age as well, and your veterinarian can discuss the various options with you.
Third Exam (15 – 17 Weeks)
- Health Assessment: Checking for appropriate growth and development
- Behavior/Socialization: Are you giving your puppy enough opportunities for socialization? Is your puppy exhibiting any unwanted behaviors? This second visit is a good place to address those with your veterinarian.
- Immunizations: The third set of core “puppy shots” will be administered, and your puppy will get his or her first rabies vaccination.
- Parasite Prevention: Heartworm screening and prevention options should be considered, as well as flea and tick prevention if not already being given.
- Preparation for spay/neuter: Unless you are planning to breed your dog, surgical sterilization is part of your responsibility as a pet owner, and has many health benefits for both males and females. Males and females can be altered as soon as they are healthy and of weight to safely undergo anesthesia. Your vet will advise you as to recovery times, post-surgical activity level and possible complications.
- Microchipping: This small transmitter is your pet’s ticket home should they become lost. While insertion usually causes very little pain, but many pet parents opt to have this done while their pet is anesthetized for spay/neuter surgery.