Your new best friend is getting settled into their new home. You’re playing and bonding, and they’re healthy and happy.
It’s now time to take them for their first veterinarian visit for a routine check-up! This visit is critical to your young pet’s well being, but it might be a bit overwhelming for a new pet owner or a new pet. Here are some of our tips for a smooth first vet visit.
When to take your pet to their first vet visit
Whether your pup came from a shelter or a breeder, puppies should be brought to the vet within their first few days after coming home. The same rule applies to kittens – It’s a great way to get a baseline of your animal’s health and start their life in your care on the right foot (or paw).Once you've decided it's time for a trip to the vet, do some research and find the right vet for you and your animal.
How to prepare for first vet visit
- Gather materials
You’ll want to bring along any paperwork the breeder or kennel gave you. The vet may ask for the information on your pet’s medical history, which is typically included in these files! Pro tip: Make a special folder for all your new pet’s documents. This makes it easy to bring along to appointments and training classes or have on-hand for pet-sitters in the case of an emergency.
- Have treats on hand
Bring along some treats! Have the vet give the treat to your pet – it’s a great way to start developing trust between your pet and their doctor.
- Socialize your pet
Having a well-behaved pet can be the key to a great appointment. Start with socializing your pet and getting them used to being touched and held gently by a variety of different people, so they can accept their vet’s positive touches throughout your pet’s first vet appointment.
- Ask the vet clinic some questions
If it’s your first trip to the vet, too, it’s important to ask if you have any questions prior to the appointment. Some first veterinarian visits will include a fecal exam, and your vet clinic might ask you to bring a sample of your animal’s stool.
- “What kind of vaccinations does my pet need?”
You will probably have to return for more vaccinations, but it is good to know what your vet recommends and how many your new puppy or kitty might need in the future so you can plan for costs and upcoming appointments.
- “What preventive measures should I be taking?”
Heartworm, fleas, and ticks can all be prevented with special medications or vaccinations. Ask your vet what they recommend based on your animal’s size and lifestyle.
- “How much food should I be feeding my pet?”
This question might be accompanied by another great question, “is my animal’s weight normal?”. Your vet will be able to recommend a serving size and even specific types of food based on your animal’s breed, age, and lifestyle, resulting in a happier, healthier pet!
- “Is _____ normal?” “Should I be doing _____?” And any other curiosities you might have! No question is a dumb question when it comes to your pet’s well-being. Now is the time to ask any question you have about how to care for your new family member – So, don’t be shy! Ask away!
What to expect at the first vet appointment
Every veterinary office is different, but generally, you can expect the same thing from your first trip to the vet:
• The vet will start to get to know you and your new animal, ask where you got your pet, whether it’s been de-wormed or had any vaccinations, etc. They will probably ask some lifestyle questions to learn more about your pet’s specific needs, too!
• When arriving, keep your puppy or kitten kenneled or on a leash and close to you. There will likely be other animals around and you’ll want to keep them as calm as possible.
• The vet will thoroughly examine your puppy or kitten. This will likely include weighing your pet and examining their ears, coat, eyes, heart, teeth, and gums.
• The first trip usually involves vaccinations, but it’s up to you as a pet parent which vaccinations and boosters your pet will get.
What will the first trip to the vet cost?
Prices will vary based on exams and procedures performed, but they will also vary from clinic to clinic. You might want to call clinics in your neighborhood to compare prices before you go. Additionally, you may want to consider investing in pet health insurance to cover pricey vet bills.
Questions to ask at the first vet visit