Vet Tips: What to expect at your puppy’s veterinary exams

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As your dog ages, his health needs change. Here’s what you can expect from veterinary exams when your dog is a puppy. Stay tuned for guides to vet visits for adult and senior dogs.

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Clipper the puppy is at Hopalong Animal Rescue in Oakland, CA.

Puppy and adolescent exams
(ages 6 weeks to 18 months):

Your dog’s early checkups can determine his attitude toward vet visits for the rest of his life, so take your time and allow both you and him to get comfortable. (Having treats on hand can go a long way!)

During the exam, your vet will take a baseline of your pet’s health so he can note changes later in life. “Things a veterinarian will look for include function of all of the pet’s major organ systems, signs of birth defects and abnormal disease, proper mental function and injury,” veterinarian Raelynn Farnsworth tells The Seattle Times.

Basic puppy and adolescent exams usually include:

  • Full physical examination
  • Stool check for parasites
  • Deworming, if necessary
  • Vaccinations
  • Possibly a heartworm test

“It’s important to clarify that the physical examination itself is the same no matter the age of the pet,” says Dr. V, veterinarian and author of the blog Pawcurious. “A thorough examination will allow the veterinarian to examine each organ system in a systematic manner that allows him or her to catch problems early.”

Questions to ask the vet:

  • What should I be feeding my puppy, and how much should I give him?
  • Do you have tips for housetraining or training in general?
  • When should my puppy be spayed or neutered?
  • How often should my puppy be vaccinated, and for what?
  • Is it safe for my puppy to go outside or to see other dogs yet?
  • Does my puppy need to be on a flea, tick or heartworm preventative?
  • When should my puppy come back for his next exam?

For more information about your puppy’s veterinary care, check out our New Puppy Health Guide.


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More Vet Tips entries:

Blog: Five ways to keep your cat calm at the vet

Blog: 10 easy steps to get your cat to like — yes like — his cat carrier

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Guide: New Puppy Health Guide