Your Puppy's Regular Checkup

Puppy at Vet

Whether your new puppy is from a breeder or a shelter, one of the first things you need to do is arrange a veterinary checkup within a couple of days of welcoming him home. This way, if there is a pre-existing condition in the puppy, you can alert the breeder or shelter, especially if it's a contagious condition. Many breeder contracts insist on such an exam so that you both have assurance that the puppy is healthy at the time of transfer, and you'll want to know that your puppy is starting off with a clean bill of health. If you have other pets at home, keep your new puppy separated from them until your vet gives you the go-ahead to introduce him. This helps reduce the risk of spreading contagious diseases to your other pets.

Getting to the Vet

Before heading to the veterinarian, gather together any previous health records, including details of vaccinations and deworming. Write down what you're feeding in case the veterinarian asks. Also record any questions, possible signs of illness or problems you're having with your new pet — otherwise these seem to fly out of mind's reach once in the exam room. If you have pet health insurance, bring the information for it. Bring a fresh stool sample (not the whole thing; about a tablespoon is ample).

Have the puppy ride to the veterinary clinic in a carrier. It's a good idea not to feed him for at least an hour before leaving because many puppies get carsick. Bring extra towels and maybe some rinse-free puppy shampoo in case of an accident. Otherwise your vision of showing off your gorgeous new puppy may deteriorate into showing off your vomit-covered puppy.

Once at the clinic, leave the puppy in his crate or hold him on your lap. Don't let him visit with other dogs, who may not feel well. Don't let him on the floor because of the risk of communicable diseases in an unvaccinated puppy. If he's too large to crate or hold, bring a towel for him to sit on.

The Exam

It's common for a veterinary technician to obtain a health history from you and to perform the preliminary check-in, including weight, temperature, pulse and respiration rate. If you brought a stool sample, the specimen will be checked for evidence of intestinal parasites. Any abnormalities found during this preliminary check-in will be reported to the veterinarian, who will then perform a full physical examination.

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