Getting a brand new puppy is the start of an amazing journey. It’s a time to make memories, create a bond that will last your pup’s lifetime, and adjust to your new home together.
But for new or first-time pet parents, keeping your puppy as healthy as possible might seem confusing and difficult to navigate—especially when it comes to knowing when to take your new puppy to the vet for the first time.
Luckily, veterinarian medicine is pretty tried and true these days, and vets agree that your puppy's visit should occur within the first few weeks of life.
With your vet’s guidance, it should be pretty easy to get into a routine for caring for your pet’s health and keeping your new pup as healthy and happy as possible.
Here’s everything you need to know about when to take your puppy to the vet, what to expect at the first few visits, and which vaccinations your vet will potentially administer while you’re there.
Choosing when to take your new puppy to the vet will depend on how old your puppy is.
If you're getting a puppy from their birth, you're usually able to take them home and away from their mother when the pup is around 8 weeks old. After 8 weeks, your puppy will no longer need to nurse and should be fully mobile.
Before your puppy goes to the vet to get vaccinations, they receive their immunity from the colostrum that’s found in their mother’s milk. This is the first line of defense against potential disease and other bacterial threats that may harm a puppy's chance of survival in the first few weeks of life.
Once it’s safe for your puppy to leave their mother and go to their permanent home, a visit to the vet will help keep your puppy’s health on track.
Some rescue organizations or dog breeders will even require that you take your new furry family member to the vet within 72 hours of bringing them home.
It’s imperative that you don’t ignore or push off the first vet visit, as this is a crucial time for your pet’s immunity.
Before your dog can safely go outside, play in the park with other dogs, or even travel to homes where other pets may be present, they will need to go to the vet to ensure they're fully vaccinated and healthy.
At your first visit, your vet will likely administer timely vaccinations for life-threatening diseases such as rabies, hepatitis, parvovirus, canine distemper, and more. They'll continue to receive vaccines every 3-4 weeks until they're between 4 and 6 months old.
In addition to receiving the first doses of various vaccines, your vet will test your puppy to see if they have worms, which could have been picked up in their first few weeks of life. Your vet may administer routine worm medications to keep your dog in the clear.
The vet will also check all of your dog’s body parts, including the eyes, nose, mouth, and tummy, as well as their coat and skin.
They will weigh your pup, check their heart, lungs, and teeth, and may do blood work if necessary. This can help rule out any hereditary diseases, give your vet a better understanding of your puppy’s overall health, and ensure that they're growing as they should be.
The vet will also ask you questions about your pup's behavior and what puppy food you're feeding them.
The first vet appointment is also a time for you to ask questions, especially if you’re a first-time pet parent. Remember that veterinarians have seen it all, so there’s no question that is too silly or simple to ask them.
Your vet’s goal is to help keep your puppy safe and for them to grow into a healthy and thriving dog, so they’re there to assist you in whatever you need to be a great pet parent.