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When should I take my puppy to the vet for the first time?

Puppy Labrador at the vet advice

Your puppy should go to the vet as early as possible.

© Shutterstock

You have your new puppy and it's settled into your new home, but what should you do next? A trip to your local vet should be at the top of your list. Here's why.

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS

Updated on the 11/08/2020, 13:14

Now that your puppy has joined your family, you should get them registered with a vet as early as possible, and take them to the practice for a check-up a few days after they have settled into their new home. Ask the breeder, previous owner or rehoming centre when their next vaccination is due and whether they have had any flea or worm treatments, as this might affect when they need an appointment. If in doubt, always phone your local practice.

What happens at a puppy's first vet visit?

At the puppy’s first vet visit they will have a full check-up by a vet, they might receive a vaccine or microchip, and topics such as flea and worm treatments will be discussed. This is also a great opportunity to ask the vet any questions about your puppy’s health.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

What do you need for your first vet visit?

You need to bring your puppy in a suitable carrier or on a lead. Remember to bring any documents that you were given by the breeder or rehoming centre, particularly any record of vaccinations. It is helpful to have a note of any flea or worm treatments given, and the date that these were administered. Additional information that is helpful too includes brand and quantity of puppy food, and any health signs that are causing you concern.

Do I need to register my puppy with a vet?

You need to register your puppy with a vet so that you can take them for a health check and any vaccinations they might need. It is sensible to register them with a practice as early as possible in case they need emergency veterinary care.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

What vet visits do puppies need?

Puppies need to visit the vet by the time they are eight weeks old, so that they can be microchipped and registered, which is a legal requirement. They also need two vet appointments for their course of puppy vaccinations. The first is usually given at around eight weeks of age, and this might happen at the same appointment as the microchip. They will need a second appointment two to four weeks later for their second vaccination. After this, they need a yearly check-up and booster.

Some vet practices offer socialisation sessions or ‘puppy parties’. This can be a great way to get them used to interacting with other new puppies, and to prepare for training classes. You should also consider taking your puppy to the practice for visits, to greet the reception team and have plenty of treats and fuss. This helps to make the vet practice a positive environment, rather than somewhere that they associate with being unwell.

What does a puppy vet check involve?

At a puppy check the vet will give them a good top-to-toe examination. This includes looking at their eyes, ears and nose for signs of illness, such as abnormal discharge. They will use a stethoscope to listen to the chest to make sure that the heart and lung sounds appear to be normal. They will also check the teeth, skin, joints, tummy, temperature, common congenital diseases (present at birth) and more.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

Do all puppies have worms?

Not all puppies have worms, but they are more likely to catch them than older pets. It is important for them to be treated with a suitable de-wormer. A vet can advise what products are licensed for use in each age group of puppies, how much to give and how often. If they are left untreated, worms can cause serious health problems, including malnutrition and intestinal blockage.

How often should my puppy go to the vet?

Your puppy should go to the vet for their first two vaccination appointments. After that, they should just go annually if they are fit and healthy, but more often if they get unwell.

How much does it cost to see a vet?

This depends on your practice and it is best to contact them for advice on fees. You can also enquire about whether the practice has pet health plans, which tend to offer packages for routine appointments, such as vaccinations, but which vary between clinics. Also bear in mind that pet health is unpredictable, and think about preparing for any eventuality, such as paying for specialist surgery. It is recommended that pet owners take out a pet insurance policy. Like any insurance, cover varies between policies. The vet practice should be able to advise what questions to ask prospective insurance companies.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

How much is a puppy's first vet visit?

Contact your local practice to find out how much the appointment is likely to cost. If your puppy needs any veterinary treatments, this will be an additional cost. You can speak to your practice to see whether they offer puppy packages or pet health plans.

How do I schedule a vet appointment?

You will first need to register your pet at a veterinary practice, which can be done over the phone. You will then be able to phone in to book appointments, and some practices have online booking options. In an out-of-hours emergency, you should phone your usual practice number, which will guide you on how to contact the emergency vet team.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk