The First Puppy Visit

The First Puppy Visit

Closeup shot of veterinarian hands checking dog by stethoscope

Yay!!!! You’re getting a puppy! That’s awesome! Nothing makes a veterinarian happier than a first puppy visit! Especially if the puppies come in by themselves. Oh, wait, no. I’m not allowed to say that. Sorry. I’m sure your appointment will be fantastic (mainly because you were so very thorough in selecting your puppy and have followed all the advice in my previous post about preparing for a puppy.

What I meant to say is that vets know how important the first puppy visit is. It’s so important that we assign an entire thirty-minute time slot in our schedules for them (vs. the standard fifteen). Why? Because we know that in addition to the standard questions about vaccinations and potty-training we’ll also be explaining EVERYTHING vitally important to the health of your dog.

You know, the just the basics of nutrition, heartworms, fleas, ticks, pet insurance, microchipping, dental care, spaying, neutering, and recommendations for the best groomer, trainer, doggy day care…

And of course, we need to add time for the conversations I like to call “Bullshit Alternative Information the breeder/pet store/shelter employee/internet told you”. These are the ones that we love the most (I really wish there was a sarcasm font available).

A few of my all-time favorites include

  • “Great Danes can’t have puppy food.”
  • “Puppies aren’t old enough to train until they’re six months old.”
  • “Anesthesia will kill my Teacup Chihuahua.”
  • “Having a litter of puppies will make her a better dog.”
  • “My Goldendoodle can’t be groomed until he’s at least a year old.”

Oh, and we have to actually DO the physical exam, vaccinations, deworming, nail trim, and fecal (all while giving no less than 268 treats to your puppy—starting the moment their tail clears the front door—so that they will love us forever and ever).

Yep, 30 minutes is DEFINITELY enough time for all of it.

Professional vet examination consultation with an X-ray. Top view from above. Dog and peoples hands on the desk.

Since we have to cram so much into this critical encounter, here are my top 5 tips for having a successful puppy appointment:

  1. DO make sure the puppy comes in HUNGRY. Bribery is the most effective instrument we have. We will most certainly buy their love with tasty treats. Lots and lots of treats. Get on the scale—treat! Meet the receptionist—treat! Let the tech put you on the table—treat! Sit there and be adorable when the vet comes in—treat! Heartworm preventative sample—treat! Flea and Tick preventative sample—treat! Vaccinations—treats! Nail trim—18 treats (one for each toe)! You get the idea. The perfect puppy visit is one where they didn’t even know something scary and painful happened. They should leave thinking this is the awesomest place ever, where every single person gave them something to eat
  2. DO let them play for a while before coming in. Outside. At your place. Translation: we don’t want to clean up their pee. Also, a worn-out puppy is a much better patient. You might think it’s adorable when little Snookums chews up your hands and scratches the tar out of your neck, but we don’t. No one should be bleeding at the end of a puppy visit, least of all any member of the veterinary team.
  3. DO bring your puppy’s medical record, but let us, the experts, decipher if they’ve truly “had all their shots”. But, please DON’T include the bill of sale if you purchased your puppy. You really don’t want me to know that you paid hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on your new designer dog but now you’re in my exam room complaining that veterinary care is too expensive (or worse, you get on Yelp and accuse all vets of ripping you off).
  4. DON’T be supermom. If you have toddlers, or fussy babies, leave them at home. I’m a mom too. I get it. That’s a big favor to ask. But, you won’t hear a word I say if you have to be in mommy mode the whole visit and your young kids will only get the puppy more riled-up. You will leave more stressed than you can imagine and will question why you ever decided to get a puppy (or have children) in the first place. For the sake of your sanity (and my team’s), come alone. Or leave them in the car, just be sure to crack the window a bit.
  5. DON’T ask me how much he’s going to weigh when he’s full grown. Wait, let me rephrase that, don’t get mad at me when he doesn’t weigh what the breeder told you he would (again, please see the previous post about preparing for a puppy).
puppy with teddy bear  

So, congratulations on the new addition to your family! If you haven’t done so already, be sure to stock up on paper towels and caffeinated beverages (potty training happens in the middle of the night too).

Remember, the vaccinations will need to be repeated in 3-4 weeks and be sure to take some treats with you for the ride home!

Pawfully Yours,

Lissa Lynn, DVM

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