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What to Expect on Your Puppy's First Vet Visit

6 min read

Get ready for your puppy's first vet check with our useful tips. We’ve made it easy for you and provided a ‘puppy first vet visit checklist’, so your first trip can be as stress-free as possible.

Your puppy’s first vet check

Before you bring your adorable new dog home, you should be planning for your puppy’s first vet check.

Ask around friends, family and local dog owners to find out which vets they recommend – and check you are happy with their location, their practice times and know what out of hours procedures they have (as for some reason, emergencies always seem to happen out of hours – and only finding you have to travel miles away if its an evening or a weekend, isn’t something you want to discover when your having a puppy health crisis! 

Once you've found the ideal vet for you, register with them long before you bring your puppy home, and once you know their homecoming date, arrange an appointment. Unless you are worried about your puppy’s health, this shouldn’t be in the first few days – as your puppy will still be settling in and trying to get used to their new life and family – but within the first week or so.

Let them know that this is a ‘puppy first check-up’ as your vet may want to allocate a bit more time than the usual 10-minute slot, just to make sure they don’t have to rush and that everything gets off on the right foot.

What happens during your puppy’s first vet check?

At their first puppy vet check, your pup will have a thorough examination to make sure they are healthy, and your vet will discuss puppy vaccinations with you. They will need to see details of any previous vaccinations and treatments which your breeder (or the rescue centre) should have supplied, so make sure you take those along.

You can have a chat about common problems such as worms and fleas, including how to treat and prevent them and you can have the chance to ask any questions you have about puppy health.

You might also talk about feeding and what you should be checking for during your regular grooming sessions, along with any breed or type health issues you should be keeping an eye on.  

During your puppy’s first consultation, the vet will go through a general wellbeing checklist which may include:

  • Looking at their skin and coat

  • Weighing them

  • Examining their teeth

  • Listening to their heartbeat through a stethoscope

  • Taking their temperature

While you are there, it is a good opportunity to also ask if the staff any details of good puppy and dog-training classes held locally, as these will help your puppy with training and socialisation.


Tips for a smooth first puppy vet check

Have a quiet stress-free journey to the vet so you both arrive relaxed

If you can, take someone with you - so one of you can stay with the puppy while the other can go and tell the receptionist you have arrived. Sometimes practice receptions can be busy and stressful - and so if you can it is best to wait in the car until they are ready for you (especially as your puppy won’t be fully vaccinated yet). Avoid long waiting times and ask the receptionist when the quietest time of the day will be.

Use treats for puppy check ups

Bring your puppy’s favourite treats to every vet visit. Whatever gets their tail wagging, make sure you’ve got it with you and as you want your puppy to associate vet visits with positive things - and by doing this, you might even find that your pup will develop a spring in their step on their way to the vet.

How much is a puppy health check (UK)?

The cost of your puppy’s check-ups will vary depending on your dog’s health and where you live. A young puppy needs a series of vaccinations which will increase the initial costs, so be ready for the first vet bill to reflect that. However, when it comes to the regular check-ups the cost will likely decrease. Unless you puppy needs special medication or in cases of an emergency most vet trips won’t be significant out-of-pocket affairs.

If your puppy is not already insured, discuss this too, as policies have different advantages and disadvantages – – some can be very cheap but will not pay out on everything you are likely to want to be covered for. Others can seem very expensive but you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that whatever happens, your dog wil be covered. Do your research – and your vet may be able to help you make a decision about what’s best for your puppy.

Insurance can be a lifesaver in the case of accidents or injury as it is surprisingly easy to run up large vet’s bills and a good insurance policy means you will never have to worry about not being able to afford to treat your puppy if the worst should happen.

Many breeders will have arrangements where you will get six week’s free insurance, and it is up to you if you want to continue this.

We answered the most frequent questions about puppy insurance in an in-depth article.


Puppy first vet visit checklist

At your puppy’s first vet check, there are a few things your vet will go through with you. We’ve listed them for you here:

What happens after your puppy’s first vet check?

Ideally, your vet should see your dog at least once a year, and possibly more frequently at the start - especially while you are working through the vaccination protocol - or if they have special medical needs or breed/type specific issues.

These regular visits play a huge part in the 'prevention is better than cure' approach, so don't hold off making the appointment just because your dog seems fit and healthy to you.

On an annual vet check, your vet will check your dog over, including listening to their heart and lungs, running their hands over their abdomen to check for any unusual signs, checking for problems with their skin, coat, eyes and ears and scanning their microchip to check it's in working order.

Another advantage of these annual check-ups is to get your dog used to visiting the vet surgery when they’re well. If they only visit when they’re hurt or ill, they can become nervous about seeing the vet, associating their trips with bad times or stressful experiences.

While your puppy is young, it’s a good idea to pop into the vet practice every so often, even if you don’t have an appointment (but do phone to ask first!). The receptionists and vet nurses will appreciate a cuddle during quiet times, be happy to give them treats, and it will create a positive memory for your furry friend.

Now that your puppy’s first trip to the vet is finished, continue reading our new puppy owner guides for more useful information on how to look after the new addition to the family.