by Vicki Chaney
Choose your veterinarian carefully, he/she will play an important role in your puppy's life. If you have already chosen a vet, by now, you probably have the beginnings of a good working relationship with him/her. If you still haven't chosen a vet for your puppy, now is the time to do so. Schedule a visit for a check-up. Make all visits, but especially the first one, a happy experience for your puppy.
Arrive early, so you don't feel rushed, and take time for your puppy to relax in this new place. Take some small treats for the staff to give to your puppy to help start the relationship off right. Make sure your puppy's first visits are pleasant for him, and you'll build a good relationship for life!
Your veterinarian will check your puppy's overall physical condition. The vet will probably weigh your puppy, listen to its heart, and take its temperature. Now is the time to discuss your puppy's future health care. Set up a vaccination schedule. Be sure to adhere to the schedule, missing an appointment could compromise your puppy's immunity. You may want to ask a staff member if they mail out reminder cards.
Your vet may give you a health record to keep for your puppy. If not, start one at home for your puppy.
Depending on the individual situation, your vet may want to check for internal parasites (worms), or do tests for congenital problems.
This visit is also the time to discuss your puppy's long term health care. Talk to your vet about the best time to spay or neuter your puppy. Also, discuss heartworm prevention. Depending on the size and breed of your puppy, your vet may recommend future screening tests for health issues that appear only as your puppy matures.
Each outing to the veterinarian's office is also a chance to monitor your puppy's behavior (body language). Is he fearful of the new surroundings? Is he happy to meet new people? Watch your puppy's body language for some insight to his temperament. He'll tell you a lot about himself!