How Often Must a Puppy See the Vet?

by Betty Lewis
Your pup's first vet visit will include a basic wellness exam.

Your pup's first vet visit will include a basic wellness exam.

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Bringing a puppy into the family means a little extra work. The baby dog will need housebreaking, and other training to learn good manners. You'll have to figure out what he'll eat. And don't forget the vet: Puppies need shots, worm treatment and general health checks. Your pup will have more than one visit to the vet his first year.

Puppy's First Vet Visit

Whether you got your new pup from a shelter, a friend or a breeder, the pooch should pay a visit to the vet. While you may think you should get Buddy to the vet right away, PetMD recommends giving him a few days before you make that introduction. It's normal for a puppy to experience some tummy upset during his first couple of days in a new environment. Change is stressful for everyone, particularly a puppy, so he could use a few days to adapt to his new life and de-stress. This time gives you a chance to observe his behavior and see how he's responding to his diet and routine. Try to introduce Buddy to the vet within his first week at home.

Pleased to Meet You, Doctor

Buddy's first vet visit should be a pretty routine affair. When you take your pup to the vet, the vet is primarily interested in ensuring no health issues exist. The vet will look for evidence of parasites, such as fleas and worms, congenital abnormalities, such as a hernia, and signs of infectious illnesses. He'll discuss vaccination and worming protocols. Depending on Buddy's history with the breeder, he may have already begun his series, or he may get his first dose on that visit.

More Visits, More Shots

The number of followup visits Buddy requires depends on whether he started receiving vaccinations or wormer before your first visit together. If your pup is under 3 weeks of age, he'll need three doses of the core vaccines -- canine distemper, canine parvo and canine adenovirus -- administered every three to four weeks. After that initial series of three shots, he'll require a booster a year later and then every three years. If he is older than 16 weeks of age when he gets his first shots, he won't need another shot for another year. He needs a rabies shot -- no boosters necessary for this first year, no matter how old he is -- and the follow- up vaccinations depend on local ordinances. Other vaccinations, such as bordatella, require multiple doses and can be administered at the vet's recommendation.

Other First-Year Vet Visits

Unless you've developed a specific plan to breed your pup, you'll want to schedule a visit to spay or neuter your new friend. Your vet will discuss when the most appropriate time is for your puppy. Generally the optimal period is before the first birthday. Spay/neuter surgery is straightforward for most dogs, however, it will require a special visit to the vet. Generally, a dog can come home the same day and doesn't have to spend the night for the procedure. If Buddy's an extra-special fellow, the vet may want to check him periodically through his first year. For example, if he's a large-breed dog and the vet wants to monitor his growth to ensure he's not growing too big, too fast, Buddy may have to check in every few months.

All Things Under Consideration

For most pups, after shots are complete and he's been neutered, they're good to go for the next year. When your dog returns to the vet for his birthday checkup, he'll get his shots updated and another wellness exam. When Buddy goes in for a wellness checkup, take a stool sample with you, to make it easy for the vet to check for parasites. As well, pay attention to his behavior, including his food and water intake, and whether he's been sick or behaving a little strangely. If it's his first vet visit, or if you've changed vets, take all his paperwork and records with you for his file. Finally, take a list of questions to ask the vet -- whether for a routine wellness exam or a booster shot.

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