When you have a puppy, you can't wait to celebrate all the firsts—like their first time sitting on command, their first time going potty outside, and their first time walking on a leash. There is another first that's just as important, if not more. That's your puppy's first vet appointment. This first visit to the vet will establish a baseline for your canine companion's care, and it will set them up for a lifetime of health. Here's an overview of what you can expect to happen at your puppy's first checkup.
Checking the vital signs.
Vets will often start by listening to your puppy's heart and take their temperature, pulse, and respiration rate. If there are any abnormalities, the vet will conduct further testing to determine why that might be—but in many cases, your vet will determine if the vital signs are within a normal range, and they'll make note of them so they can reference them if your puppy does ever come in sick.
Taking height and weight measurements.
The vet will weigh your puppy and measure their height. Some vets also measure around a dog's abdomen. As your puppy ages, the vet can keep track of changes in height and weight to inform whether you're feeding your puppy enough or too much.
Examining for parasites.
The vet may ask you to bring a stool sample with you. They will look at this sample under a microscope to test it for parasite eggs. They will also examine your puppy for other signs of parasites, such as a rough coat or anal itching. If parasites are detected, most can easily be treated with either an oral or topical medication, but it's important this is done quickly.
Assessing for breed-specific disorders and ailments.
Various breeds are prone to different ailments. For instance, German shepherd puppies tend to have weak hips. Your vet will assess your puppy for any breed-specific abnormalities that may affect how they age.
Finally, your vet will administer your puppy's first shots. Often at the first appointment, puppies are given parvo and distemper shots. Rabies shots will usually come when they are a little bit older.
This first vet appointment is a good opportunity for both you and your puppy to get to know the vet. Take a deep breath, relax, and pet your puppy through the experience. For many puppies, the visit is no big deal and they enjoy meeting someone new.