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Your Pet’s First Vet Visit

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gray puppy asleep during visit to the vet

When you get a puppy or kitten, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian within their first week home with you. Scheduling the first visit as soon as the adoption date is set up is a good idea. A preventative care regimen will need to be started to protect your pet from diseases and parasites, and they should be checked to see if any are already present.

Before the First Visit

If this is the first time you are ever taking a pet to the veterinarian’s, you may be wondering how to set up a vet appointment. This process is actually quite similar to scheduling a doctor’s appointment. You can ask around for recommendations or do research online. After finding a veterinarian that appears to be a good fit for you and your pet, simply call and make an appointment.

Now that your appointment is all scheduled, you may be asking yourself what to bring to the first vet visit. You’ll want to know if your new pet was given vaccines or dewormer by their last caregiver before your first visit to the veterinarian so that they don’t repeat services unnecessarily. If you can get ahold of any medical records, take them with you to the appointment.

You’ll also want to bring in a small, fresh stool sample to be tested for worms. Plastic containers work well to seal it up. Double bagging is another option.

black and white striped kitten being examined by veterinarian

During the First Visit

Like any appointment with a new doctor, your pet’s first vet visit will begin with paperwork. The paperwork will ask for your contact information and personal information about your pet. Some questions regarding your pet may include: 

  • Where did you get your pet?
  • What type of food are they eating?
  • What kind of toys do they prefer?
  • How are they getting along with family members and other pets?

Remember that these visits aren’t just a time for the veterinarian to ask questions, but they are also a great opportunity for you, as a pet parent, to ask questions or bring up any concerns you may have.

The Exam

Your veterinarian will check various areas of your pet for abnormalities, which may include the eyes, ears, teeth, skin, abdomen, heart, lungs, and joints.

The vet might also check for conditions specific to your pet’s breed. Be sure to ask about other common health issues for their breed because the symptoms of many hereditary conditions won’t be present until your pet is an adult. Awareness is essential for the early detection of diseases.

If you’re looking for any specific tips or recommendations about care, training, and feeding, your pet’s appointment is a great time to bring up your questions.

You can also check out these articles for more tips on how to house train and crate train your puppy.

A Puppy’s First Vet Visit: Questions to Ask

Being a first-time puppy parent can be a little overwhelming at first, and you may have so many questions that you don’t know where to start. If this is the case, here are a few questions to guide your conversation with your veterinarian.

  • At what age should I switch from puppy to adult food?
  • Are there certain toys my puppy shouldn’t have?
  • What are some recommended teething toys?
  • When can my puppy begin more rigorous exercise?
  • When should I begin training my puppy?

Even if you have a question that you may think sounds silly, it never hurts to ask. Veterinarians can recommend some great resources and can help you navigate the hectic yet fun waters of adopting a puppy.


Your pet will undergo their first round of vaccinations and preventative medications for fleas, ticks, and heartworm during the visit. Pets are due for these every 3-4 weeks until they’re between 4 and 6 months old.

There are core vaccines and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are recommended for all dogs and cats. They protect against diseases that are widely spread but easily preventable with antibodies.

For dogs, the recognized core vaccines are canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis, and rabies vaccine. The core vaccines for cats are feline panleukopenia, feline calicivirus, feline rhinotracheitis (also known as feline herpesvirus), and rabies. 

Any other vaccines recommended for your cat or dog are considered non-core vaccines. If these vaccines are administered, your veterinarian may have reason to believe your pet is at greater risk of exposure to certain diseases based on geographical location and their previous living situation.

This infographic provides a comprehensive list of core and non-core vaccines, tips for before, during, and after your pet’s first vet visit, lists of the top pet insurance claims for kittens and puppies, and more.

General Services

Some other general services recommended for young pets are spaying/neutering, dental cleaning, and microchipping.


Not only can spaying or neutering prevent unwanted litters, but it has health benefits for your pet. Spaying can prevent breast tumors and uterine infections, and neutering can prevent testicular cancer and some prostate problems.

Another benefit of spaying your cat or dog is that they won’t go into heat after the procedure. Neutering may lessen undesired behaviors in your male pet, like territory marking in the house and aggression.

Healthy puppies and kittens may be spayed or neutered as young as eight weeks old. However, the traditional age for dogs to have these procedures is 6-9 months.

Dental Cleaning

By age three, most pets show evidence of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can be painful and affect other vital organs. That’s why it’s so important to start taking care of your pet’s teeth early.

A yearly professional cleaning is recommended, but you should also brush your pet’s teeth at home. It’s easier than you’d think. Learn how to brush your pet’s teeth for a healthy mouth.


Microchips help thousands of lost pets a year make it back to their families. They are no bigger than a grain of rice and can be implanted in your pet by your veterinarian. Each microchip comes with a number that can be entered into a database to bring up the contact information of the pet’s owner.

shar-pei puppy being vaccinated

After the First Visit

After you bring your new pet home from their first vet visit, make sure to follow any instructions or recommendations as given by your veterinarian. This may include flea/tick, heartworm, or dewormer medication regimens, a schedule for meals, and tips for care and training.

Remember to schedule your pet’s next visit for 3-4 weeks after the first one. Getting your kitten or puppy the proper preventative care can help them live a longer and healthier life.

Top Pet Insurance Claims for Puppies and Kittens

Young pets are more susceptible to some illnesses than adult pets because their immune systems are still developing. And, because they have such an abundance of energy, they get into all kinds of trouble that can cause accidents and injuries.

According to our data,** the top accident and injury claims for puppies are lacerations, bite wounds, lameness, and swallowed objects. The most common illness claims for puppies are ear infections, stomach issues, skin irritations, diarrhea, and allergies.*

The top accident and injury claims for kittens are bite wounds, swallowed objects, lameness, and lacerations. Meanwhile, illness claims are most commonly for vomiting, diarrhea, stomach issues, respiratory infections, and eye problems.

**Internal Claims Data, 2015-2020
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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